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Build business model around consumer, says expert

Companies can reduce waste and promote recycling and reuse by building their business model around the consumer, according to a technical specialist at WRAP.

Companies can reduce waste and promote recycling and reuse by building their business model around the consumer, according to a technical specialist at WRAP.

Speaking to environmental news website, edie, Greg Lucas said that any business model built around minimising waste would first need to develop an understanding of consumer attitudes towards recyclability and reusability.

“Understanding the consumer demand for second hand or refurbished products across each sector, and being able to make that information available across the supply chain, will drive demand”, he said.

“It will highlight the type of activities and models that businesses should be working on. It will involve some research about what the customers demand, such as what issues can be solved, and will result in companies providing a new service to the customer.”

Trialling new model

WRAP is helping companies across a variety of sectors to benefit from resource efficient business models through its EU-funded REBus project.

Trials from the project, conducted across the UK and the Netherlands, tested a range of different business models which shift consumers from the end of the product line to an integral part of a ‘circular’ process.

The opportunity is particular pertinent for the manufacturing sector, which spends around 40 per cent of total costs on raw materials, much of which could be reused or recycled into new products, depending on consumer preferences.

‘Balanced business case’

According to research from the project, resource efficient business models could be worth nearly £80 billion to the UK economy.

However, Lucas added that business model innovation was about more than just economic opportunity.

“Business cases are very rarely just financial, and there are some good social and resource implications in these models as well”, he said. 

“These types of business models bring in a sustainable revenue. It’s not just a cost to the organisation; it’s a much more balanced business case.”

REBus project case studies include leading companies such as IKEA, Argos, Rolls-Royce and Dyson. For more information, click here.