As the SPREE
project heads into its third and final year, the international project team has been reviewing its activities and aims at several meetings around Europe. SPREE's major event this year was the “Services for Sustainability” conference, held in Brussels, attended by some 70 participants from diverse backgrounds, including representatives from industry, the business sector, civic organizations and academia. The conference generated fruitful discussions and contributed to the ongoing discussion on servicizing, which is currently “hot” on the agenda of the European Union, the organizers said. That event was followed by a workshop entitled "Servicizing: From Vision to Practice." Participants were divided into four groups, three of which were asked to focus on one of the SPREE sectors, water, mobility and agri-food. The fourth group was asked to take a more general perspective. “The questions, comments and feedback collected there have now been incorporated into the SPREE study,” says JIIS researcher Yael Marom
, SPREE project manager.
SPREE – an acronym for Servicizing Policy for Resource Efficient Economy – holds as one of its main aims “to bring the European community closer to achieving a truly sustainable economy characterized by decoupling of economic growth and social prosperity from inefficient use of resources.” To achieve this, it has been focusing on three sectors: water, mobility and agri-food. The EU-funded project (Framework Programme 7) is run by a consortium of 10 partners from seven different countries. In Israel the partners are JIIS, which is managing the project, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Tel Aviv University.
At present, there are nine case studies underway in six countries: Sweden, UK, Finland, Spain, Lithuania and Israel. The team is collecting field data from a variety of sources, including business people and consumer surveys. The analyzed data, which will be processed through advanced agent-based modeling, will enable them to draft the key outcome of SPREE: “Servicizing Policy Packages".,” Within SPREE, “Servicizing” is defined as a transaction whereby value is provided through a combination of products and services and where satisfaction of customer needs is achieved by selling a function of the product rather than product per se and/or by increasing the service component of the product. Examples include car-sharing services, carpet leasing programs, printing services, and even Rolls Royce’s “power by the hour” engine maintenance management.
The challenge is to “decouple” economic growth and social prosperity from inefficient use of resources, and in so doing improve environmental impact and boost societal objectives such as raising quality of life.
The team states that “economically, the provision of services, in parallel to or instead of selling products, can reduce production and provision costs, enhance competitive advantages and expand business opportunities. For customers, it may also lead to higher utility, as the need for investment in the material product could be entirely eliminated. Environmental benefits of servicizing arise from economic incentives for extending the life span of products, reusing the product’s components and remanufacturing.”
Following the conference in Brussels, SPREE was chosen as a representative project of the European Commission in the area of systematic eco-innovation and circular economy.