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19th European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production – Circular Europe for Sustainability: Design, Production and Consumption

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Creating values by reusing major household appliances - a case of public-private-partnership for achieving a triple bottom

Many writers on Sustainable Business Models tend to focus mainly on two dimensions of sustainability: economic and environmental aspects. The same tendency is seen lately in the Circular Economy literature. Including also the social dimension enables the creation of business models that involve partnerships (SDG17) of multiple actors in a combined effort to create more sustainable consumption patterns (SDG 12), reduced climate impact (SDG 13) and more responsible, inclusive employment and growth (SDG 8) in economic balance. In Denmark, the legislation implementing the EU directives on Eco-design and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) introduced an Extended Producer Responsibility program that have frozen into closing strategies where the materials, or at least most of the metal parts, are just recovered and recycled. Environmentally, these strategies are second choice to slowing strategies such as repairing and reusing products as products and modular components as components and thereby extending their lifetime. Both the waste hierarchies and the Circular Economy strategies emphasize these priorities. This research summarizes the background for the current situation and the circularity of WEEE – and more specifically of the largest category of WEEE: the large household appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, tumble driers, ovens and stoves. It develops and describes a practical, full scale experiment where a partnership model is used. It elaborates how environmental performance criteria are established and enforced; and how the repair and reuse can create more local employment and social meaning than the current recycling. The experiment is done in extreme settings for a Danish context allowing nationwide generalizations. The main result of the experiment is that no single actor alone – be it private for-profit or non-profit actors could have succeeded in securing both the environmental, the social and the economic dimensions of sustainable business models as each actor contributed with supplementary knowledge, access, competences, resources and power. Without the actor combination, the repair and reuse would not have been possible to the same degree. It documents the reuse potential to be at least 15 % of discarded appliances. It tests and proves the usefulness of repair standards. It graphically illustrates the components value propositions, value delivery, value (re)creation and value (re)capture using triple-layered business models and color-coding of the three sustainability dimensions in line with research contributions to boundary-spanning value transfers. It highlights four new challenges encountered during the experiment; (a) a challenge of gentle, reverse logistics; (b) of developing contracts and lasting cooperation that will make the partners remain in the partnership; (c) of creating efficient resell platforms; and (d) of creating legislative framework conditions that promote repair and reuse partnerships.

Henrik Riisgaard
Aalborg University

Kristina Overgaard Zacho


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