REBus Pilots Make Case For Resource Efficient Business Models

The potential of adopting resource efficient, innovative business models on a large-scale has been highlighted by the latest series of case studies from REBus.

To date, REBus, an EU Life+ funded partnership project, has published 25 case studies from organisations in the UK and Netherlands testing a methodology that enables them to transform their strategies to profitable, resilient and more resource efficient business models (REBMs).

In total 35 different organisations have been benefiting from the expertise, advice and support of the pioneering business pilot project over the last two years – including Naturalmat, Po-zu, and Samsung UK whose case studies have now been added to the REBus website.

For Naturalmat, the economic and environmental benefits of their REBus pilot are clear to see. Naturalmat utilises local, 100% biodegradable materials wherever possible to manufacture natural, chemical-free mattresses by hand. Helped by REBus, the company developed a range of new service offerings and product design for circularity.

For example, the mattresses have been re-designed to incorporate material that make them easier to dismantle at the end of life, and customers are offered a take-back service that allows mattresses to be safely recycled.

“What we are seeing from the REBus pilot projects like Naturalmat is a clear business case for resource efficient business models as well as huge environmental benefits.”

The new initiatives are estimated to generate additional income of £35,000 whilst delivering 81 tonnes of material for recycling and 89 tonnes for re-use.

Such encouraging results from REBus are indicative of what could be achieved if REBMs were implemented more widely, according to WRAP.

The recent Extrapolating resource efficient business model potential across Europe report outlines how large-scale adoption of the sort of business models, which have been piloted throughout the course of the REBus project, could deliver substantial economic and environmental benefits.

Steve Creed, director of business programmes at WRAP, the lead partner on the REBus project, said: “What we are seeing from the REBus pilot projects like Naturalmat is a clear business case for resource efficient business models as well as huge environmental benefits.

“If you scale this kind of circular activity up across Europe, our extrapolation work suggests an additional £282bn GVA could be generated, along with a reduction in raw material demand of up to 185m tonnes, and a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by up to 155m tonnes by 2030.”

For Po-Zu, which manufacture and retail sustainably and ethically-sourced shoes, the REBus pilot offered a robust business case, whilst reducing waste and helping to extend the life of their products. The launch of its very own shoe repair service in Portugal this year, along with a shoe replacement service, has given work to a local cobbler, and will also see the employment of a production agent as the repair project scales up.

Creed continued: “The adoption of REBMs involves using more labour and fewer resources to increase the efficiency of production and broader economic activity.  Extrapolating what we have learnt from the REBus project suggests that by 2030 the expansion of such resource productivity could create up to 3m jobs in Europe whilst diverting up to 172m tonnes of material from landfill.”

The REBus pilot has enabled Samsung Electronics to recover high volumes of product for refurbishment which could be used to satisfy new markets. Samsung worked with the REBus team to recognise the issues involved in creating a commercial success from circular business models, allowing customers to trade-in smartphones and an online upgrade programme.  Samsung’s upgrade programme trial was successful and saw strong uptake from customers.

Kevin Considine, Sustainability Affairs Manager at Samsung Electronics, says: “REBus gave us the opportunity to test how we can recover high-value used products to be refurbished and offer access to our latest products to the consumer. The REBus team helped us to understand and realise the environmental and financial opportunities.”

You can read the Summary of Learning report and the pilot case studies on the REBus website, which also includes a range of tried and tested resources to help organisations start or continue their own REBM.

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