volume) advocates a shift to an economy that sells the functionality of products rather than the products themselves to decelerate materials flow. This concept implies, for example, offering pesticide control instead of pesticides, communication services instead of phones, computing power instead of computers, refrigeration instead of refrigerators, and transportation instead of automobiles. It suggests valuing products not by the cost of their production but by the value the customer derives from using the products. An economy based on providing "functionality" would encourage reuse of products over recycling of products.

This idea in fact reflects both a past practice and a growing trend. For instance, it was not long ago that the Bell Telephone System in the United States owned the phones its customers used and then recycled or reused the phones as customers turned them back in. There is also evidence of some companies experimenting with providing functionality of products in their marketing efforts. For example, a new business group at Dow Chemical, Advanced Cleaning Systems, intends to maintain and increase the sales and profitability of the company's chlorinated solvents business, which is threatened by increased regulation of ozone-depleting chemicals and federal and state programs to control toxic air emissions (Dillon, in this volume). The group is developing not only alternative chemicals and processes but a range of customer services as well—improved process controls and the recycling of spent chemical solvents. It offers delivery of new chemicals to its customers in conjunction with "take-back" of the used chemical in reusable containers (Dillon, in this volume). The spent chemical can then be cleaned or reprocessed and be either returned to service or disposed of appropriately. This practice is an example of asserting control over the product life cycle while providing the customer with the functions of the product.

In the longer term, the possibility of a "functionality economy" raises truly revolutionary implications, not just for manufacturing firms and their customers but for society and regulators as well. One obvious implication is that products would be built to last long. Yet, because older, less efficient products such as automobiles may pollute more, manufacturers may have to design them to be easily upgradable. The more difficult issues of a functionality economy involve figuring out how to handle the impact of extended manufacturer liability for products and how to evaluate the costs of providing the service as well as the associated value Of the service provided.


Universities have a unique role to play in influencing the evolution of industrial ecosystems. In education, there is a need to base concepts such as pollution prevention, waste minimization and reuse, as well as product and material recycling and reuse considerations on broad engineering science principles, and to introduce them into engineering education. This can be accomplished by showing how environmental considerations of key design features can be balanced with

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