First loop

In 1976 Walter Stahel and Genevieve Reday sketched the vision of an Economy in loops – a Circular Economy and its impact on job creation, economic competitiveness, resource savings and waste prevention. It was in the form of a research report to the European Commission in Brussels, called ‘The Potential for Substituting Manpower for Energy’. The report was later published in 1982 as a book “Jobs for Tomorrow, the Potential for Substituting Manpower for Energy”. And still today the factors from this report are commonly referred to as – the three pillars of sustainable development: ecologic, economic and social compatibility.

In 1982 the Product-Life Institute was formed as a not-for-profit, independent and virtual organisation domiciled in Geneva, Switzerland. It is the oldest consulting organisation on sustainable strategies and policies in Europe. With a main objective that is to open new frontiers of economic development towards a Performance Economy, which focuses on selling services / performance instead of goods in a circular economy, internalising all costs. To achieve this, it combines technical, system design and commercial innovation primarily within a regional economy and develops business models of remarketing goods (reuse), product-life extension of goods and components (e,g. remanufacturing and technological upgrading) in order to create local jobs, increase resource husbandry and prevent waste.

In a 1989 report to the Ministry of the Environment of Baden-Württemberg, Stuttgart, entitled Long-life goods and material recycling, Stahel demonstrated the competitive advantages of longer product-life strategies in a loop economy, compared to recycling, and the impact of appropriate industrial design. The three case studies of this report are still shown on the website and have achieved the highest numbers of hits in the past.

Please visit the homepage of the ‘Godfather’ of the Circular Economy’ – at the Product Life Institut and see Stahels exciting work most of it from before the real rise and spread of the internet – and maybe therefore unknown to many?

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