Monday, December 6, 2010

Earth, Inc. By Gregory Unruh

My first post is about a book I just finished reading: Earth, Inc.  Using Nature's Rules to Build Sustainable  Profits by Gregory Unruh.
The book presents how it is possible to take the usual  value chain and to put in its biospheric concept, which means starting with natural capital and considering the post consumer waste. In order to be able to adapt the value chain to the biosphere, it is important to know the five biosphere rules. Unruh lists them as :

  1. Material Parsimony: Minimize the types of materials used in products with a focus of materials that are life-friendly and economically recyclable.
  2. Power Autonomy: Maximize the power autonomy of products and processes so they can function on renewable energy
  3. Value Cycles:  Recover and reincarnate materials from end-of-use goods into the new value-added products.
  4. Sustainable Product Platforms: Leverage your value cycle as a product platform for profitable scale, scope and knowledge economies
  5. Function Over Form: Fulfill customers' functional needs in ways that sustain the value cycle.
My favorite part of the book explains how some companies were really successful in recovering their end-of-use goods and using them again to create new value-added products.  This turns the waste into valuable goods and gets companies to use them as an input.
The Fuji Xerox example highlights how it is possible for sustainability benefits to also be economic benefits. The company was not profitable in Australia until they started remanufacturing used laser printers.

I recommend reading this book if you are interested in how companies can achieve sustainability.

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