Paul Ekins and Nick Hughes
A new policy that companies only sell the lifetime services of their products but retain ownership of the materials.
There are 3 key resource management problems today: 1. Companies put products on the market and do not think about how the materials in them will be managed at their end of life; 2. Consumers have responsibility for disposing of these products but they know nothing about how they are constructed, what materials they contain or how these materials can or should be recovered; 3. No one has the financial incentive to recover these materials and re-purpose them at least cost.
The innovation is a policy proposal that companies only sell the lifetime services of their products but retain ownership of the materials. This is a radical extension of the approach that is known as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). The core idea is that materials should retain their value in the economy for as long as possible, being repaired, remanufactured, recycled; and that this requires a shift in the role and responsibilities of consumers and manufacturers in designing, manufacturing, owning and recycling products and the materials they contain.
In order to accelerate the transition to a more Circular Economy public policy must also push in the same direction. This policy has the potential to pave the way for more circular business models and sustainable consumer behaviour. But first, they have set a goal to form a committee or coalition that explores how to take this idea to the next stage, envisage how to implement it and determine the long term impacts of it.