Innovative companies that have discovered the benefits of resource efficiency are leading the way towards a sustainable society.
Caroline Ankarcrona is Project Manager for the IVA project “Resource Efficient Business Models” in which 45 companies are participating. Some of them presented their models for reducing resource use at an IVA seminar in Almedalen.
“Material flows are not easy to map. But there are large amounts of waste in all of the flows we studied,” says Caroline Ankarcrona who would like to see cooperation between different industries to minimise waste.
Sunfleet is a car rental company that is committed to the community. Peter Algurén is the company’s CEO. He sees major advantages in car pools.
“One of our cars replaces two or three privately-owned ones. Car pools offer an opportunity for a new approach to urban planning,” he said.
In concrete terms, the car pool concept means that contractors and city planners need to build fewer places for parking at the same time as residents still have access to a car when they want one.
Anna Denell of property company Vasakronan pointed out that most offices stand empty many of the hours in a year. At the same time, modern technology is enabling employees to work from anywhere. This is prompting more and more companies to look for smaller premises.
“We are helping our customers do this. And the empty office space can often be converted into homes,” she said.
There are also large quantities of used construction materials that could be given new life. Unfortunately it is, for example, more expensive to repaint a used door that to install a new one.
Packaging is also a contributing factor in unnecessary material consumption. Åsa Domeij of Axfood therefore believes that the system of money back on recycled items should include more than beverage cans and bottles.
“Many different food packages could be included in the system. Another issue is that there are no requirements for packaging quality. That’s why plastic recycling is not very efficient,” she said.
Products made from wood bind carbon. Good for the climate. Per Lyrvall of Stora Enso stressed the fact that the forest industries are largely fossil-free.
“And these days we can even make implants from biomass,” he said.
H&M has been investing in textile recycling for a number of years. There is huge garment waste and cotton is hardly an environmentally sound textile.
“Our vision is a holistic perspective – a circular approach. We’re moving away from materials that are not sustainable,” said Cecilia Strömblad Brännsten.
H&M’s garment recycling programme has so far resulted in the collection of 33,000 tonnes of clothing.
Government policy has an important role to play in making society more sustainable.
Matilda Ernkrans (S) is Chairman of the parliament’s Environmental and Agricultural Committee. She emphasised that it is not just Swedish regulations and systems that need to be changed; EU regulations also need to be reviewed if we are to have a bio-driven economy.
Jesper Skalberg Karlsson (M) is a deputy member of the Environmental and Agricultural Committee. He pointed out that there is a business model revolution going on.
“We are, for example, not customers of Facebook; we are users,” he said.
Caroline Ankarcrona, IVA
Peter Algurén, Sunfleet
Per Lyrvall, Stora Enso
Cecilia Strömblad Brännsten, H&M.
Anna Denell, Vasakronan.
Matilda Ernkrans (S) and Jesper Skalberg Karlsson (M).