Costs associated with service, maintenance and asset recovery include the design and development of collection schemes and encouragement of consumer participation. Since product return/recycle requirements are likely to become much more widespread, green game strategies should include arrangements for addressing asset recovery, and requirements for recovering costs should be addressed in each product line.
Concerns about environmental quality are commonly viewed in terms of the hardware associated with the production of the product. The product may be a consumer good (like an automobile, a personal computer, or refrigerator), or a service (such us construction of roads, airports, pipelines, power stations, telephone cables, or other infrastructure). Turning this view on its head, the green game views the design of systems according to the "software," or functionality, derived from the product. The product becomes the service derived from the hardware: pest control as opposed to pesticides; temperature control, heat, and light instead of electricity; refrigeration instead of refrigerators; computing and telecommunication instead of computers, satellites, and cellular phones.
Stahel (this volume) suggests an economy based on functionality to decelerate the flow of materials within the economy. The idea allows manufacturers and others to exert control over the product life cycle by encouraging the customer to buy the function the product provides instead of the product itself. This is not a new idea but one that expands on past practices such as the leasing of phones. The trick for business is to build in the ability to upgrade to better and more efficient products as advances in technology provide greater energy efficiency and pollute less. Stahel points to Xerox, which advertises itself as a document company, and the design innovations the company has adopted to manage, upgrade, and maintain its inventory of photocopying machines that are used in high-volume sectors of the economy. In this instance, the company is selling documentation, not its machines.
The green game strategy of providing functionality instead of hardware is not applicable to all products nor is it one that will meet the needs of all customers. One outcome of the economy's growing service sector may be increased demand for leased products, better maintenance, and better protection against liability in operating longer-lasting products. The service sector, which currently accounts for 75 percent of jobs and 75 percent of GDP in the United States, includes operations such as hospitals, hotels, restaurants, photocopying services, real estate management, transportation and distribution companies, retail outlets, entertainment parks, cinemas, rental car agencies, and airlines. These types of businesses use many different products, and the decisions they make about environmental quality are related to functionality. Such businesses are more likely to lease these products, and when they purchase equipment, they value good maintenance