The business of the circular economy

David Fitzsimons was at the recent workshop at which CIE-MAP Circular Economy Research was discussed, arguing the case for remanufactured products.

Managing Director David Fitzsimons contributed to a London-based workshop led by Green Alliance and researchers from Leeds, Cardiff, Bath and Nottingham Universities during May 2017.

How can the embedded and used energy in consumer products be significantly lowered? is the challenge taken on by the CIE-MAP centre. Business was well represented with Sarah Jones from Siemens, Sinead Conway from Kingfisher, Andy Clifton from Rolls Royce and Arlette Anderson from Vodaphone, amongst others.

This workshop focused on lifestyles and aimed to identify the type of questions to include in a n=1,000 survey later this year. David Fitzsimons argued for the merits of remanufacturable products. For the most part consumers are unaware they are using remanufactured components and products. Occasionally, they are reminded and some respond negatively. David highlighted a recent court case in the Netherlands in which Apple was sued by a customer because they had provided her with a replacement iPad when her new one ceased working after 4 months. The replacement was remanufactured, carried an equivalent guarantee and continued to work well. Nevertheless, the court held that Apple should replace a failed new product with another new one.

The embedded energy saving from using remanufactured products is large, yet there are multiple barriers to the adoption of products in the consumer arena. In business, remanufactured components and equipment represent €30 billion in sales across Europe (figures from ERN study 2016).

Chris Radway from Amec Foster Wheeler highlighted a survey of millennials by the Westfield Shopping Centre Group. Millennials reported they were more interested in renting/leasing products and not owning them.

We have concluded that there are many new opportunities for business in this arena.

For further information on the work please see the CIE-MAP website. If you'd like to know more about the context and how it links with recently published work on energy use in products in the USA, please get in touch with David Fitzsimons.

Simon Strick