Resource-efficient business models in times of pandemics
Catulli, Dr. Maurizio
Research in sustainable production and consumption focuses on sustainable business models, which describe how a firm provides value to customers, connects to suppliers and acquires resources in a profitable and environmentally sustainable manner. Business models configured for the circular economy receive particular attention, because of their potential to reduce resources consumption, generation of exhaust materials and plastic pollution. Examples of such business models are known as Product Service Systems (PSS), systems of products, services, networks of actors and supporting infrastructure developed to be more resource efficient that traditional business models. PSS types include car-sharing services such as car clubs and bicycle sharing offerings where customers use cars and bicycles sequentially. PSS feature tangible and intangible (service) elements, and often involve shared use of products by multiple users, who do not purchase them outright, which helps deliver resource efficiency. However, nascent sustainable business models such as PSS, which help mitigate environmental problems that lead to pandemics, are vulnerable to shocks to social systems caused by the same environmental issues. Whist various stakeholders research and even advocate sharing business models, researchers and policy makers have begun to question the safety of these sustainable business models because of the coronavirus pandemic that broke out in 2020.