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Maximum Life: Getting the most out of the products we use

Lisa Jackson discusses Apple’s recycling and renewable energy initiatives

September’s Apple event saw the usual array of new products and software updates, but it wasn’t all business as usual. The world’s largest consumer goods company announced it wants its products to have a longer working life. That means it wants you to upgrade your phone less often.

Lisa Jackson discusses Apple’s recycling and renewable energy initiatives

Squaring the business case with environmental necessity

As well as sourcing more responsibly, using more recycled materials, and developing more comprehensive post-life recycling infrastructure, the central plank in Apple’s environmental strategy is for its products to have a longer use life.

Of course, a product’s working life can be spread across several users.

If this keynote is telltale of things to come, expect a business strategy where the average revenue per customer is maintained (or grows) because the higher gross profit per unit (plus any services sales) offsets the decline in revenue from upgrades.

In product terms, this means more incremental technological upgrades to new products, more durable builds and greater continuity of software. One can only assume Apple has run the numbers and sees this strategy as making business sense, as well as being environmentally responsible.

But you can run the numbers for your own business…

Lessons for the coffee industry

There’s parallels for coffee equipment, especially products such as espresso machines and grinders, which have high levels of embedded energy and the rate of technological innovate is comparatively low.

Firstly, manufacturers can and should do more to develop products that have lower embedded energy, operate on less energy, and have a long working life.

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Second, as a community we need to derive as much good as possible from each manufactured product. In practical terms this means maintaining equipment in working condition to maximise its productive life. And, of course, a product’s working life may extend across several owners in the coffee industry.

Thirdly, we need to see better post-life solutions. A variety of companies strip machines for parts and metals but it seems time for the manufacturers to develop comprehensive programmes for the recycling of machines, components and materials once their working life has been exhausted.

The coffee community cares deeply about environmental issues, and here’s some challenges that are central to our industry that we alone can tackle. We think it’s time to think a little different.

Use United Baristas services to both better equip your business and lower the industry’s environmental impacts.

• Use Marketplace to buy and sell used coffee equipment

• You’ll be able to use the new Workshop to better source coffee equipment, parts and services to extend its working life


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