Perspectives on Rights as a Standard in Balancing Interests from a Survey of Business Models

Federico Morando
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September 2017

The paper at hand is part of a research project about the Internet of Things (IoT) and its role in supporting the development of a Circular Economy (CE). The IoT may have mixed impacts on environmental sustainability – e.g., in traditional economic settings, it may adversely impact the environment, increasing the technological obsolescence of durable goods. At the same time, some IoT (and/or cloud robotics or otherwise connected) components are a prerequisite of a full-fledged circular economy, where reuse, repair, remanufacture and recycling become part of the products themselves and/or of the business models used to deliver services to the end-users. This is the case – as this paper will discuss in describing CE business models – because the collection of an increasing amount of information and the existence of durable links between manufacturers and their products is an enabler of the predictive maintenance and reverse logistics (e.g., take-back management, incentivized return and reuse, collection of used products) enabling the Circular Economy.
The research question on which we focus is not whether the IoT may have a positive environmental impact. This would amount to asking whether a CE may actually be implemented (and, for the sake of discussion, we assume that this is the case). The question is, instead, whether it is possible that this happens in such a way that simultaneously meets the interests of society, citizens and companies.