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Title: Product service systems for household waste prevention
Author: Gottberg, Annika
Awarding Body: Cranfield University
Current Institution: Cranfield University
Date of Award: 2012
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Waste prevention is the prioritized waste management option within EU waste policy. There is however a scarcity of research on and policy measures for waste prevention. Improved resource productivity in consumption practices may prevent waste. Literature suggests that Product Service Systems (PSS, ‘a marketable set of products and services capable of jointly fulfilling a user’s needs’ (Goedkoop et al. 1999)) have potential for increased resource productivity compared with self-servicing (households owning material artefacts and using them to perform household tasks themselves), and therefore potential for waste prevention. However, the potential of PSS is uncertain due to a lack of well-reported quantitative assessments. Moreover, the potential is predicated on particular behaviours of self-servicing households and PSS providers concerning their choice and management of material artefacts. This research, therefore, aims to assess the utility of the PSS concept for achieving household waste prevention in the UK with a view to informing policy-makers. Three objectives address the aim, namely to: identify attitudes towards PSS adoption and behaviours concerning choice and management of material artefacts which influence the waste prevention and wider environmental performance of PSS; the waste prevention potential of experimental PSS; identify the environmental potential of experimental PSS. An exploratory mixed-methods research design was used to address the objectives, comprising focus groups, interviews, a survey, document studies, development of a model for waste prevention assessment and a simplified life cycle approach using life cycle indicators. The context was a national property development firm and households on new housing developments built by the firm. Experimental PSS, for potential provision by the property development firm were developed for four household tasks to enable the assessments, namely garden maintenance, home improvement, house cleaning and laundry. The households, the property development firm and its supply chain expressed reluctance towards adopting PSS. Reported behaviours concerning choice and management of material artefacts partly confirmed and partly diverged from the propositions in the PSS literature. For almost all propositions, there were diverging behaviours. PSS for all household tasks except house cleaning had some although modest waste prevention potential. PSS led to increases in some types of emissions in most of the assessed scenarios. Increased emissions mainly arose from the transport for the delivery of PSS. Due to the increase in some emissions, it is uncertain whether PSS qualifies as waste prevention according to the legal definition. The waste prevention and environmental potential depend on the organisation of PSS. Moreover, the behaviours of service providers in particular are uncertain. Despite the modest potential for household waste prevention PSS could have a role as one in a suite of waste prevention measures. However, due to the uncertainty of the potential it might be inappropriate for policy-makers to promote adoption of PSS currently. Adoption of household services provided by local service providers may however increase. Policy-makers should consider promoting the environmental sustainability of both self-servicing households and of commercial household services. Policy-measures are proposed. The PSS concept is critiqued and the term PSS rejected. It is suggested PSS are services.
Supervisor: Morris, Joe; Cook, Matthew Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available