The S-Curve Indicator: Week of February 11, 2013

This week’s indicator is $700 billion, which is the annual potential savings in global consumer goods from material reduction and reuse. The study by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation points to tactics such as textile collection, reusable packaging, and food waste recovery as ways to capture this value.

The numbers are compelling but, given historical inertia, is it really possible for companies to make the shift towards a so-called “circular economy?” The study’s authors argue that not only is it possible, it is critical that companies evolve their thinking. A convergence of factors, from new business models such as collaborative consumption to the growth of IT capabilities such as RFID chips, are making the previous approaches to efficient manufacturing obsolete. Companies that incorporate systems-level thinking into their value chain will be positioned to capture the long-term value critical for growth.

This is an entry in our series, The S-Curve Indicator, where we highlight a number that’s impacting the world of sustainability.