Tag Archives: sustainable development

Product-Service Systems for Sustainable Businesses

This is an excerpt from my latest paper: Camilleri, M. A. (2018). The circular economy’s closed loop and product service systems for sustainable development: A review and appraisal. Sustainable Development. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/sd.1909

(c) The Sustainable Business Edit

Many academic commentators claim that product-service systems (PSS) are moving society towards a resource‐efficient, circular economy (CE) (Tukker, 2015; Piscicelli et al., 2015; Yuan et al., 2006). PSSs shift the businesses’ focus from designing and selling only physical products, to selling a marketable set of products, services, supporting networks, and infrastructures, by including repair and maintenance, updates/upgrades, help desk, training and consultancy, and disposal‐services such as recycling and take‐back (Gaiardelli et al., 2014). Therefore, PSS consists of tangible products as well as intangible services that are combined so that they are jointly capable of satisfying the consumers’ demands (Hockerts & Weaver, 2002).

PSS providers are in a position to design need‐fulfilment systems with lower impacts to the environment, by either replacing an alternative product‐service mix or by influencing the customers’ activities to become more eco‐efficient. Tukker (2015) suggested that firms have an incentive to prolong the service life of their products and to make them as cost‐ and material‐efficient as possible. Moreover, PSSs would typically extend beyond purchase, affecting the use and disposal of resources. Hence, these systems could lead to the minimisation of material flows in the economy whilst maximising the businesses’ service output and their users’ satisfaction (Tukker & Tischner, 2006). There are three types of PSSs that prescribe different product service components and ownership packages:

(a) a product‐PSS that adds extra services but the ownership of the product(s) is transferred to the consumer(s);

(b) the results‐PSSs that would involve both parties agreeing to achieve target results, as they recast product(s) as utilised materials;

(c) in use‐PSSs, the provider(s) lease, share or pool their product(s); however, they retain the ownership of the product(s).

For instance, Koninklijke Philips N.V. (Royal Philips, commonly known as Philips), a diversified technology company utilises the use‐PSS approach, as it provides a lighting service to customers and is responsible for its technology risk. The Dutch company installs its lighting equipment (including street lighting), maintains it, and ensures that it runs for a very long time. Eventually, it reclaims back its equipment when it is the right time to recycle materials. This property rights are distributed amongst Philips and its clients, over the life time of the products. Philips has recognised an untapped opportunity to retain ownership of its products, as it has committed itself to dispose of the infrastructure and its constituent parts at their end of life. At the same time, customers (including the government) do not have to pay high upfront costs for their lighting equipment. Interestingly, Philips is also adopting a similar PSS within health care environments where it has established leasing relationships with clients for its medical infrastructure. Again, the company will eventually reclaim back its equipment and upgrades it when necessary. When the medical equipment is refurbished with the state‐of‐the art technology, the multinational firm will reuse it for another customer; it provides a warrantee cover and guarantees its products as new.

The idea of shared ownership is conspicuous with the results‐ and use‐PSSs. These systems have led to upstream effects (through sustainable designs) and increased throughput. As a result, they are sustainable in the long run, as there are less externalities, in terms of waste and emissions.

References

Camilleri, M. A.(2017). Corporate sustainability, social responsibility and 
environmental management: An introduction to theory and practice with 
case studies. Cham: Springer Nature.

Gaiardelli, P.,Resta, B., Martinez, V., Pinto, R., & Albores, P. (2014). A
classification model for product‐service offerings. Journal of cleaner 
production, 66,507–519.

Hockerts, K.,& Weaver, N. (2002). Are service systems worth our interest.
Assessing the eco‐efficiency of sustainable service systems. Working document, INSEADFontainebleau, France.

Piscicelli, L.,Cooper, T., & Fisher, T. (2015). The role of values in collaborative
consumption:Insights from a product service system for lending
and borrowing in the UK. Journal of Cleaner Production, 97, 21–29. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2014.07.032

Tukker, A. (2015). Product services for a resource‐efficient andcircular
economy—A review. Journal of Cleaner Production, 97, 76–91. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2013.11.049

Tukker, A., &Tischner, U. (2006). Product‐services as a research field: Past, present and future. Reflections from a decade of research. Journal of 
Cleaner Production, 14(17),1552–1556. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2006.01.02

Yuan, Z., Bi, J.,& Moriguichi, Y. (2006). The circular economy: A new development strategy in China.Journal of Industrial Ecology, 10(1), 4–8.



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The Circular Economy and the Sustainability Agenda

This is excerpt from my latest paper that was accepted by ‘Sustainable Development’ (Wiley).

How to Cite: Camilleri, M.A. (2018). The Circular Economy’s Closed Loop and Product Service Systems for Sustainable Development: A Review and Appraisal. Sustainable Development. Forthcoming.

The Brundtland Report (WCED, 1987) defined sustainable development as; “development that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (p. 43). Its underlying assumption is that the world’s physical resources are not finite, therefore, they have to be managed responsibly to sustain future generations. Subsequently, the United Nations (UN) Conference on Environment and Development has put forward Agenda 21 that dedicated a chapter that was focused on unsustainable patterns of production and consumption. This document recommended that the UN’s member states ought to intensify their efforts to reduce the use of scarce resources during production processes, whilst minimising the environmental impacts from generation of waste and pollution (Agenda 21, 1992).

In 2002, the UN Report of the World Summit on Sustainable Development also made reference to unsustainable patterns of production and consumption. The UN’s member states were urged to manage their natural resources sustainably and with lower negative environmental impacts; by promoting the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystems, whilst reducing waste (WSSD, 2002, p 13). Moreover, in another resolution, entitled; “The future we want”, the General Assembly at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development has reaffirmed its commitment to implementing green economy policies in the context of sustainable development. The Heads of State and Government or their representatives have agreed to continue promoting the integrated and sustainable management of eco-systems; whilst facilitating their conservation, regeneration and restoration of resources (UNCSD, 2012). Furthermore, during the UN’s General Assembly Resolution of 25 September 2015, entitled; “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” the world leaders have agreed to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals that replaced the previous millennium development goals that were established in the year 2000. Specifically, the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12 of the 2030 agenda, namely; “Sustainable Consumption and Production” explained that there is an opportunity for business and industry to reap economic gains through resource and energy efficiencies. It also raised awareness on the use of sustainable infrastructures and urged the UN member states to address air, water and soil pollution to minimise their environmental impact (UNDP, 2015). Moreover, the Paris Climate Agreement (COP 21) and Resolutions 1/5 and 2/7 on chemicals and waste, and 2/8 on sustainable production and consumption, as adopted by the 1st and 2nd sessions of the United Nations Environment Assembly (that was held in Nairobi, Kenya on the 27th June 2014 and the 27th May 2016), are also considered as important policy instruments for many stakeholders, as they have paved the way for the transition toward the circular economy strategy.

These intergovernmental policy recommendations on sustainable consumption and production have led to increased regulatory pressures on business and industry toward controlled operations management and environmentally-responsible practices. In 2014, the European Union (EU) Commission anticipated that, “new business models, eco-designs and industrial symbiosis can move the community toward zero-waste; reduce greenhouse emissions and environmental impacts” (EU, 2018). Eventually, in March 2017, the EU Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee organised a Circular Economy Stakeholder Conference, where it reported on the delivery and progress of some of its Action Plan. It also established a Finance Support Platform with the European Investment Bank (EIB) and issued important guidance documents to Member States on the conversion of waste to energy.

Other EU Communications on this subject, comprised: “Innovation for a sustainable future – The Eco-innovation Action Plan“; “Building the Single Market for Green Products: Facilitating better information on the environmental performance of products and organisations“; “Green Action Plan for SMEs: enabling SMEs to turn environmental challenges into business opportunities“; “Closing the loop –An EU action plan for the Circular Economy” and the report on its implementation, and “Investing in a smart, innovative and sustainable Industry – A renewed EU Industrial Policy Strategy“, among others (EU, 2017). Recently, the EU commission has adopted a set of measures, including; a “Strategy for Plastics in the Circular Economy” that specified that all plastics packaging will have to be recyclable by 2030; It released a communication on the interface between chemical, product and waste legislation, as it explains how they relate to each other. Moreover, the commission launched a Monitoring Framework that may be used to assess the progress of its member states towards the implementation of the circular economy action plan. This framework is composed of a set of ten key indicators, comprising; 1) EU self-sufficiency for raw materials; 2) Green public procurement; 3a-c) Waste generation; 4) Food waste, 5a-b) Overall recycling rates, 6a-f) Recycling rates for specific waste streams, 7a-b) Contribution of recycled materials to raw materials demand, 8) Trade in recyclable raw materials, 9a-c) Private investments, jobs and gross value added, and 10) Patents. Furthermore, (EU, 2018) published a report on the supply and demand of critical raw materials that are used in mining, landfills, electrical and electronic equipment, batteries, automotive sector, renewable energy, defence industry as well as for chemicals and fertilizers.


References

Agenda 21. 1992. United Nations Conference on Environment & Development. Rio de Janerio, Brazil, 3 to 14 June 1992. United Nations Sustainable Development. https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/Agenda21.pdf [6 July 2018].

EU 2017. Council conclusions on eco-innovation: enabling the transition towards a circulareconomy. European Council of the European Union, Brussels, Belgium. http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2017/12/18/council-conclusions-on-eco-innovation-transition-towards-a-circular-economy/#[5th July 2018].

EU 2018. Implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan. European Commission.  http://ec.europa.eu/environment/circular-economy/index_en.htm[5th July 2018].

UNCSD 2012. The Future We Want – Outcome document. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 27 July 2012. United Nations  General Assembly. http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/66/288&Lang=E [25 June 2018].

UNDP 2015. Transforming our World. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 25 September 2015. http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/migration/generalassembly/docs/globalcompact/A_RES_70_1_E.pdf [25 June 2018].

WSSD 2002. United Nations Report of the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Johannesburg, South Africa, 26 August- 4 September 2002.  http://www.un-documents.net/aconf199-20.pdf [29 June 2018].

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Closing the loop for resource efficiency, sustainable consumption and production: a critical review of the circular economy

Abstract: The circular economy proposition is not a novel concept. However, it has recently stimulated sustainable consumption and production ideas on remanufacturing, refurbishing and recycling of materials. A thorough literature review suggests that the circular economys regenerative systems are intended to minimise industrial waste, emissions, and energy leakages through the creation of long-lasting designs that improve resource efficiencies. In this light, this research critically analyses the circular economys closed loop systems. The findings suggest that this sustainable development model could unleash a new wave of operational improvements and enhanced productivity levels through waste management and the responsible use and reuse of materials in business and industry. In conclusion, this research implies that closed loop and product service systems could result in significant efficiencies in sustainable consumption and production of resources

How to Cite: Camilleri, M.A. (2018). Closing the Loop for Resource Efficiency, Sustainable Consumption and Production: A Critical Review of the Circular Economy. International Journal of Sustainable Development (forthcoming). DOI: 10.1504/IJSD.2018.10012310

Keywords: circular economy; resource efficiency; corporate sustainability; creating shared value; corporate social responsibility; strategic CSR; stakeholder engagement; social responsibility; recycling resources; reusing resources; restoring resources; reducing resources.

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Quality Education for Smart, Inclusive and Sustainable Growth

imagesThe promotion of quality education has re-emerged as an important policy objective across many countries during the past decade. For instance, the aims of Europe 2020 strategy (that was launched in 2010) were to improve the EU’s competitiveness and productivity that underpin a sustainable social market economy (EU, 2010 a,b). The strategy identified three priorities as the main pillars of this strategy:

  • Smart growth—developing an economy based on knowledge and innovation;
  • Sustainable growth—promoting a more resource efficient, greener and more competitive economy; and
  • Inclusive growth—fostering a high-employment economy delivering economic, social and territorial cohesion (Pasimeni & Pasimeni, 2015).

Significant investments have already been made across the globe to raise relevant competencies that help to improve social outcomes (e.g. social inclusion, social equity and social capital) since these are known to affect educational and labour market success.

In a similar vein, the fourth United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4) and its 10 targets represent an ambitious and universal agenda to develop better skills for better lives. Five of its 10 targets are concerned with improving the quality of education for individual children, young people and adults, and to give them better and more relevant knowledge and skills. During the last few decades; major progress has been made towards increasing access to education at all levels; from school readiness among young children through achieving literacy and numeracy at primary school, increasing enrolment rates in schools particularly for women and girls to equipping young adults with knowledge and skills for decent work and global citizenship (UNSDG4, 2015). In this light, the SDG4’s targets are the following (UNSDG4, 2015):

Quality education

By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and Goal-4 effective learning outcomes;

By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education;

By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university;

By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship;

By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations;

By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy;

By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development;

Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, nonviolent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all;

By 2020, substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States and African countries, for enrolment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programmes, in developed countries and other developing countries. By 2030, substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing states (UNSDG4, 2015).

However, The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) the world’s most widely used global metric to measure the quality of learning outcomes, as well as its adult version, the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), underlined that although many countries may have  their children in school; only a proportion of them achieve adequate levels of proficiency by the end of lower secondary education (PISA, 2012). This finding does not augur well for economic, social and sustainable development.

Bolder efforts are required to make even greater strides to achieve the sustainable development goal of quality education for all. A centralised educational policy may help to achieve the desired outcomes. Well-laid out curricula are capable of successfully developing the full potential of lifelong learners. In addition, the government’s policies of taxation and redistribution of income may also help to counteract inequalities in some segments of society.

The provision of quality education introduces certain mechanisms that equip people with relevant knowledge and skills that they need for today’s labour market. Active employment policies are required to help unemployed people find work. The overall objective of the employability programmes is the reintegration of jobseekers and the inactive individuals into the labour market as well as the provision of assistance to employed persons to secure and advance in their job prospects.

 

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