Product Use Efficiency

Decarbonization Avenue : Product Use Efficiency

Similar to energy efficiency, resource use efficiency could significantly impact decarbonization. While recycling has emerged as a prominent pathway to recover value from waste, a more valuable approach is to derive the most value out of a product before disposal for the longest possible time, through proper maintenance, repairing or refurbishing it.

Estimates suggest that consumers in developed countries throw away 60% of their clothing within the first year, and fast fashion creates waste worth almost $500 billion a year. This is shocking, given that most items of clothing can be used for many years. 

Throwing away perfectly good-to-use products goes far beyond fashion - consumer electronics, furniture, vehicles and more. And it’s not just consumers alone, but many other players in the ecosystem are to blame for this - the OEMs themselves, the retail sector and more recently, the e-commerce portals, all of which want their customers to purchase many more of their goods than necessary.

Every good produced has a carbon footprint. While recycling does reduce the overall carbon footprint of a product, it is thus obvious that the best way to reduce CO2 emissions is not to produce something that is not needed. The good news is that many consumer product firms have started orienting their corporate philosophy and actions towards educating their consumers on more sustainable product use.

For the 2020-2030 period, expect innovations in this domain in clothing rentals, reusable sanitary products, apparel  & gadget repair, furniture remanufacturing, reusable packaging for FMCG goods, markets for second hand, refurbished & resale.

Industries impacted

  • Consumer durables
  • Fast moving consumer goods
  • Electrical
  • Electronics & semiconductors
  • Packaging & plastics
  • Printing & publishing
  • Paper & forest products
  • Textile & apparel
  • Waste management

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Themes & Topics

  • Products

    • Apparel & accessories

    • Paper & plastic

    • Furniture

    • Automobiles

    • Electronics & electrical goods

    • Batteries

    • Industrial equipment

  • Life extension through:

    • Repair

    • Better maintenance

    • Knowledge & awareness

  • Technologies available for life extension & reuse

  • Approaches

    • Community based approaches

    • Behavioural sciences

    • Better product design

    • Local support for success of repair and reuse

    • Modularity & reuse

  • Enabling policies

  • Use of IT & digital tools

  • Knowledge & capacity building

    • Use of online resources for awareness & training