POSTED: March 10, 2016
Economy

More profit from less stuff?

Report on a roundtable for businesses
May 2016

CC BY 2.0 :: David Castagneto / Flickr

Dematerialisation of the economy—more value created for each unit of ‘stuff’—is a well-established trend in developed countries. This year there have been newspaper articles reporting ‘peak stuff’ quoting remarks from Ikea, declining sales at Apple and consumption patterns detected by Visa. However sustainable prosperity will almost certainly require an acceleration of the trend, involving consumer choices as well as production efficiencies, to the point where absolute quantities of both stuff and waste in the economy fall substantially. An ever greater share of total value will need to be created by human skill and an ever smaller share by raw materials, including fuel. Housing, travel and tourism are likely to be important sectors; the choice and preparation of food, including in the home, will also important. In short, consumers in the developed world need to redefine prosperity if we are to avoid environmental disaster.

Business can lead this trend, but only if they can profit from it—and profit from it as becomes the new normal, not a niche. Hence this roundtable on what added value business can offer customers. Our starting point is that efficiency savings on will reduce costs but will not in themselves add value, that customers will not reward techniques that reduce stuff unless they also benefit, but that there are some potential customer benefits relevant to many sectors. We will conclude with some provisional answers to the question about the kinds of added value business can offer, and some questions about the ‘how’, the barriers to delivering these benefits.

On 23 May 2016, CUSP held a roundtable with a variety of industry professionals to discuss opportunities.

Contact

For enquiries about the report, please email charles.seaford@worldfuturecouncil.org.

Download

A report from this Roundtable can be downloaded in pdf.

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