Handbook of Sustainable Innovation
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Handbook of Sustainable Innovation

Edited by Frank Boons and Andrew McMeekin

The Handbook of Sustainable Innovation maps the multiple lineages of research and understanding that constitute academic work on how technological change relates to sustainable practices of production and consumption. Leading academics contribute by mapping the general evolution of this academic field, our understanding of sustainable innovation at the firm, user, and systems level, the governance of sustainable innovation, and the methodological approaches used. The Handbook explores the distinctiveness of sustainable innovation and concludes with suggestions for generating future research avenues that exploit the current diversity of work while seeking increased systemic insight.
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Chapter 3: Innovation in the circular and the performance economy

Walter R. Stahel


The circular industrial economy is about maintaining the value of manufactured assets at their highest level over the longest possible time. It manages stocks of objects and molecules through the era of ‘R’ – reusing, repairing and remanufacturing objects at highest use quality; and the era of ‘D’ – recovering atoms and molecules of highest purity. The circular industrial economy is a regional economy that substitutes labour for energy, prevents waste and emissions, and provides high resource security on a corporate and national level. The circular industrial economy is sustainable because it is economically competitive with manufacturing, creates a broad variety of jobs of all skill levels, and minimizes resource consumption and the need for transport and packaging. Economic actors that manage fleets of objects and sell their performance – by retaining ownership and renting or leasing them – in addition, internalize costs of risks and liability over the full life-cycle of objects.

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