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Building the Business case for Sufficiency

The mainstream of environmental policies and standards for businesses traditionally focus on the efficiency strategy. This approach, acting on factor T of the IPAT equation, aims at reducing the energy, resource or emission intensity of products and production processes. Within this framework, sustainable consumption is intended as the consumption and production of eco-friendly products, whose promotion have given rise to a new wake of ‘green’ consumerism.
Despite efficiency improvements, evidence from an increasing number of studies suggest that environmental gains are more than offset by the unsustainability of our consumption patterns. Experts and scholars are therefore directing their attention toward the sufficiency strategy, which focuses on factor A of the IPAT equation and aims at reducing the total amount of output produced, or consumers’ final demand. For businesses, this strategy entails ‘selling the performance’ or function of the product, combining together products and services within the same offer. These innovative business models are known as Product Service Systems (PSSs) and in this study drivers and barriers to their implementation are investigated and tested. These systems are estimated to be potentially profitable and potentially effective in bringing social and environmental benefits. However, they are not without weaknesses: they are subject to ethical issues and the rebound effect.
This study highlights that efficiency and sufficiency entail two different types of economy: one based on consuming, the other based on saving. The two strategies can be seen as part of the same continuum and to a certain extent efficiency is the pre-condition for sufficiency. In order to trigger change and the cultural shift among businesses and consumers, EU institutions will first have to decide which type of economy is to be fostered and then put in motion a systemic change supported by the proper infrastructures, incentives and coercive measures.

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Abstract The mainstream of environmental policies and standards for businesses traditionally focus on the efficiency strategy. This approach, acting on factor T of the IPAT equation, aims at reducing the energy, resource or emission intensity of products and production processes. Within this framework, sustainable consumption is intended as the consumption and production of eco-friendly products, whose promotion have given rise to a new wake of ‘green’ consumerism. Despite efficiency improvements, evidence from an increasing number of studies suggest that environmental gains are more than offset by the unsustainability of our consumption patterns. Experts and scholars are therefore directing their attention toward the sufficiency strategy, which focuses on factor A of the IPAT equation and aims at reducing the total amount of output produced, or consumers’ final demand. For businesses, this strategy entails ‘selling the performance’ or function of the product, combining together products and services within the same offer. These innovative business models are known as Product Service Systems (PSSs) and in this study drivers and barriers to their implementation are investigated and tested. These systems are estimated to be potentially profitable and potentially effective in bringing social and environmental benefits. However, they are not without weaknesses: they are subject to ethical issues and the rebound effect. This study highlights that efficiency and sufficiency entail two different types of economy: one based on consuming, the other based on saving. The two strategies can be seen as part of the same continuum and to a certain extent efficiency is the pre-condition for sufficiency. In order to trigger change and the cultural shift among businesses and consumers, EU institutions will first have to decide which type of economy is to be fostered and then put in motion a systemic change supported by the proper infrastructures, incentives and coercive measures. 7

Tesi di Master

Autore: Laura Arlotti Contatta »

Composta da 75 pagine.

 

Questa tesi ha raggiunto 31 click dal 20/09/2012.

Disponibile in PDF, la consultazione è esclusivamente in formato digitale.