Environmental Challenges, Resource Scarcity and the Circular Economy

Saturday, 15 February 2014
Toronto (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Walter Stahel , The Geneva Association, Geneva, Switzerland
1       Societal wealth resides in STOCK.

Wealth can be increased by intelligently managing quality and quantity (Q&Q) of stock (capital, heritage) including

  • Natural capital and environment,
    • Cultural capital (physical and immaterial),
    • Human capital including education and health over the full life-span,
    • Acquired human working capital,
    • Manufactured capital,
    • Financial capital.

2     CARING is the management principle of stock optimization.

Caring is labour intensive and decentralised; it has to be done where the clients are (health services, repair services, organic food).

Today, there is little caring and no intelligent stock management for manufactured capital and human capital—synergies between activity and mental health/dementia are wasted.

3       A CIRCULAR ECONOMY is a proven strategy for an intelligent management of manufactured capital.

A circular economy is regional, labour intensive, consumes little material and energy resources (compared to manufacturing), makes best use of human capital of all skill and technology levels and links a better stock management of manufactured and human capital.

The Circular Economy

  • is competitive; it does not need subsidies,
  • of manufactured capital is social and sustainable; it substitutes manpower for energy,
  • is ecologic; it greatly reduces resource consumption as it pre­serves to a large extent the embodied water, energy and materials, prevents waste and CO2/ GHG emis­sions.

4     Align currant POLITICAL OBJECTIVES:

  • decouple resource consumption from wealth,
    • create more jobs in order to overcome underemployment,
    • turn end-of-life waste into new products (the EU Waste directive 2008 specifies reuse and service-life extension of goods as priority),
    • reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

with framework conditions such as a SUSTAINABLE TAXATION:

  • do not tax renewable resources, including work, human labour,  
    • tax only non-renewable resources,
    • do not levy VAT on value preserving (stock management) activities.

Sustainable taxation will promote all stock management / caring activities by reducing the economic cost of labour and increasing the cost of non-renewable resources.


is the most profitable strategy of the Circular Economy. Selling performance, such as selling goods as services:

  • retains the ownership of goods and the embodied resources, thus providing future resource security for companies and nations,
  • internalises all costs of risk and of waste over the entire product-life of goods, incentivizing risk management and loss prevention,
  • gives a life-long quality and performance guarantee to its customers.