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The Next Economy
Large-Scale Rollout of Innovative Business Models Key for Creating Value, Reducing Waste

A new series of case studies highlighting the benefits of adopting innovative business models on a large scale has been published by REBus, an **EU LIFE+-**funded partnership project.

To date, REBus has published 25 case studies from organizations in the UK and Netherlands testing a methodology that enables them to transform their strategies into profitable, resilient and more resource-efficient business models (REBMs). In total, 35 organizations have benefited from the expertise, advice and support of the business pilot project over the last two years, including organic mattress company Naturalmat, ethical shoe brand Po-zu and Samsung UK.

For Naturalmat, a manufacturer of organic mattresses, sheets and bedding made with 100 percent biodegradable materials, REBus has allowed the company to develop a range of new service offerings and products designed for circularity. During the pilot, Naturalmat redesigned its mattresses with materials that allow for easier dismantling at end of life and rolled out a take-back service to customers to ensure mattresses are appropriately recycled. The new initiatives are estimated to generate an additional £35,000 in income for the company and deliver 81 tons of material for recycling and 89 tons for reuse.

According to the UK nonprofit Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the REBus case studies make a strong business case for greater circularity and demonstrate what could be achieved if REBMs were implemented more widely. A new report, Extrapolating Resource Efficient Business Model Potential Across Europe, further shows how large-scale adoption of such business models could deliver substantial economic and environmental benefits.

“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,” said Steve Creed, Director of Business Programs at WRAP. “If you scale this kind of circular activity up across Europe, our extrapolation work suggests an additional £282 billion GVA could be generated, along with a reduction in raw material demand of up to 185 million tons and a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by up to 155 million tons by 2030.”

The REBus pilot also offered a robust business case for Po-zu, which manufactures and retails sustainably and ethically sourced shoes, as well as opportunities to reduce waste and help extend the life of its products. The company launched its own shoe repair and replacement service in Portugal this year, which has provided work to a local cobbler and will see the employment of a production agent as the repair project scales up.

“The adoption of REBMs involves using more labor 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 three million jobs in Europe whilst diverting up to 172 million tons of material from landfill,” Creed added.

Samsung Electronics has also benefited from the REBus pilot, which enabled the company to recover higher volumes of product for refurbishment that could be used to satisfy new markets. Together with REBus, Samsung identified the issues involved in creating a commercial success from circular business models. The tech company now allows customers to trade-in smartphones and has introduced an online upgrade program. The trial of the latter proved successful and received strong customer support.

“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 realize the environmental and financial opportunities,” said Kevin Considine, Sustainability Affairs Manager at Samsung Electronics.

The REBus project comes to a close at the end of 2017. The key takeaways from the pilots have been compiled into a Summary of Learnings report. The summary highlights common lessons for SMEs and larger companies and outlines the fundamental stages to implementing a resource efficient business model.