Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Natural capitalism and eco-effectiveness

I’ve been Cradle to Cradle groovin for the past few weeks, contemporaneously enthralled with the business possibilities presented by the author’s thinking. As I relayed, it’s that good. Here’s a follow-on thought:

In situations where the away (when you discard something) is scarce or problematic, why not create and sell (in essence, lease) upcyclable and replaceable products?

Obvious suspects: Mid- to high-ticket items that, currently, are difficult or ecologically impractical to dispose of. Top-of-noggin examples include PCs, monitors, televisions, washers and driers, cars, lawn mowers, carpet and stereos.

The model: Instead of purchasing – outright – the product, consumers ink a two-to-three-times the life of the product lease (e.g., 10-to-15 years). Once its utility wanes, the product is returned to the manufacturer (who recycles and reuses the components) and replaced with a new version. It’s an annuity and perpetuated sale for the business, and a quasi feel good, rent-to-own purchase – with a guarantee to have the latest and greatest product every few years, sans disposal migraine and at a pre-determined price – for consumers, with a marginal additional cost.

Compelling suds for thought (from Cradle to Cradle):

… manufacturers could reconceive soap as a product of service, and design washing machines to recover detergent and use it again and again. A washing machine could be preloaded with two thousand loads’ worth of internally recycling detergent – not nearly as big a design challenge as it sounds, since only 5 percent of a standard measure of detergent is actually consumed in a typical laundry cycle.

No comments: