TABLE 1 Resource Efficiency and Business Strategies in the Service Economy


Implementation of Strategies


Closing Material Loops (technical strategies)

Closing Liability Loops (commercial/marketing strategies)

Resource Efficiency Strategies



Reduce the volume of the resource flow


dematerialized goods

multifunctional goods


shared utilization of goods

selling utilization instead

Reduce the speed of the source flow


long-life goods

product-life goods

cascading, cannibalizing


de-curement services

away-grading of goods and components

new products from waste

Reduce the volume and speed of the resource flow

System solutions

Krauss-Maffei plane transport system

Systemic solutions


selling results instead of goods

selling services instead of goods

and systems that reduce material use in manufacturing and in reducing the costs of operating and maintaining the goods in use.


The economies of industrialized countries are characterized by several key factors (Giarini and Stahel, 1989/1993):

  • Their populations account for only 20 percent of the world population but for 80 percent of world resource consumption.

  • Their markets for goods are saturated and the stocks of goods represent a huge storage of resources. For built infrastructures, there is also an increasing financial burden with regard to operation and maintenance costs.

  • Their economies suffer from oversupply, which indicates that the old remedy of a higher economy of scale (centralization of production to reduce manufacturing costs) can no longer solve the economic problems or the sustainability issue. The reason for this is that the cost of the services that are instrumental for production are a multiple of the pure manufacturing costs; a further optimization of production therefore does not make economic sense.

  • Incremental technical progress is faster than product development; substituting new products for existing ones will increasingly restrain technological progress compared with the alternative of a faster technological upgrading of existing goods.

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