Businesses including Samsung UK that have been involved in a project to pioneer and test more resource-efficient business models have shown the potential of what could be achieved if adopted more widely.
The pilot projects were part of REBus, an EU Life+ funded partnership project, which runs until the end of 2017. WRAP has been the lead partner on the delivery of the UK pilots, while Rijkswaterstaat has been the lead on the delivery of the Dutch pilots. Also involved were the Knowledge Transfer Network, the Aldersgate Group and the University of Northampton.
According to WRAP, large-scale adoption of the sort of business models piloted during the REBus project could deliver substantial economic and environmental benefits.
Steve Creed, director of business programmes at WRAP, says: “What we are seeing from the REBus pilot projects like Naturalmat is a clear business case for resource-efficient business models as well as huge environmental benefits. If you scale this kind of circular activity up across Europe, our extrapolation work suggests that an additional £282bn gross value added could be generated, along with a reduction in raw material demand of up to 185 million tonnes and a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by up to 155 million tonnes by 2030.”
In total 35 organisations have been on the receiving end of expertise, advice and support from the project during the past two years. For Po-Zu, which manufactures and retails sustainably and ethically-sourced shoes, the REBus pilot offered a robust business case, while reducing waste and helping to extend the life of products.
The launch of its own shoe repair service in Portugal this year, along with a shoe replacement service, has given work to a local cobbler and will also see the employment of a production agent as the repair project is scaled up.
Creed adds: “The adoption of resource-efficient business models involves using more labour and fewer resources to increase the efficiency of production and broader economic activity. Extrapolating what we have learnt suggests that, by 2030, the expansion of such resource productivity could create up to three million jobs in Europe while diverting up to 172 million tonnes of material from landfill.”
Case study: Samsung UK
Through the REBus pilot, Samsung Electronics was able to recover high volumes of product for refurbishment which could be used to satisfy new markets. The electronics manufacturer worked with the REBus team to recognise the issues involved in creating a commercial success from circular business models.
Samsung’s online upgrade programme, which saw strong uptake, allowed its customers to get the latest smartphone each year with a two-year manufacturer warranty and Samsung service. It allowed Samsung to recover a better residual value for its used products and process them through its service network for reuse, using genuine replacement parts where needed and ensuring data was forensically eradicated.
These premium pre-owned products can be sold to new customers, offering good value as well as the confidence that the product meets manufacturer’s condition. Since the original launch with its premium smartphones, it has extended the programme to premium QLED Ultra HD televisions.
Kevin Considine, sustainability affairs manager at Samsung Electronics, says: “REBus gave us the opportunity to test how we can recover high-value used products to be refurbished and offer access to our latest products to the consumer. The REBus team helped us to understand and realise the environmental and financial opportunities.”
The main learnings from the project can be found in the recently published Summary of Learnings report, which outlines the key stages to implementing a resource efficient business model.