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Product longevity and shared ownership: Sustainable routes to satisfying the world’s growing demand for goods 

1 University of Bath, Bath, UK;
2 University of Cambridge, Cambridge UK;
3 Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Special Issues: Advances in Energy and Sustainable Development

It has been estimated that by 2030 the number of people who are wealthy enough to be significant consumers will have tripled. This will have a dramatic impact on the demands for primary materials and energy. It has been estimated that with improvements in design and manufacturing it is possible to maintain the current level of production using 70% of the current primary material consumed. Even with these improvements on the production side, there will still be a doubling of primary material requirements by the end of the century, with accompanying rises in industrial energy demand, if the rise in demand for goods and services is to be met. It is therefore clear that the consumption of products must also be explored. Product longevity and using goods more intensively are two strategies which could reduce the demand for new goods. If products last longer, then manufacturing output can concentrate on emerging markets rather than the market for replacement goods. There are many goods which are infrequently used, these seldom wear out. The total demand for such could be drastically reduced if they were shared with other people. Sharing of goods has traditionally been conducted between friends or by hiring equipment, but modern communication systems and social media could increase the opportunities to share goods. Sharing goods also increases access to a range of goods for those on low incomes. From a series of workshops it has been found that the principal challenges are sociological rather than technological. This paper contains a discussion of these challenges and explores possible futures where these two strategies have been adopted. In addition, the barriers and opportunities that these strategies offer for consumers and businesses are identified, and areas where government policy could be instigated to bring about change are highlighted.
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Copyright Info: © 2015, John G. Rogers, et al., licensee AIMS Press. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licese (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)

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