Innovative Pilot Shows The Way For Circular Business Future

A pioneering business pilot project has shown that innovative business models are the way forward if we are to achieve a sustainable circular economy.

REBus, an EU Life+ funded partnership project, is testing a methodology that enables organisations to transform their strategies to profitable, resilient and more resource efficient business models (REBMs). Over the last couple of years, 30 different organisations in the UK and Netherlands have been piloting new REBMs with the support and expertise of REBus

Why? Because the rate at which we consume raw materials is unsustainable and is costing both the planet and organisations. European manufacturing firms already spend around 40% of their total costs on raw materials. Unless business models change, growing scarcity and volatility will have a substantial effect on business profitability and resilience.

From Argos’s UK wide Gadget Trade-in Service, to ProRail’s circular procurement of office furniture for the company’s new office in Utrecht in the Netherlands; from Globechain’s online re-use platform, to IT4Kids re-use collections in the community, the innovative pilot projects are wide-ranging but all designed to benefit the organisation, consumers, and the environment.

Pilot Projects

The 30 pilot project case studies are being published on, and by sharing the successes and lessons learned it is hoped that businesses and organisations will be inspired to take action by adopting innovative business models and contributing to a more circular economy.

Steve Creed, Director of Business Programmes at WRAP, the lead partner on the REBus project, says:  “We consume three planets worth of raw materials, which cannot continue.  With increased demand and diminishing resources, poorly designed products wasted in landfill, a lack of information in the supply chain and among consumers, it is now critical that collective action is taken globally.

“We need to become more resource efficient and find innovative solutions to combat the global resource crisis.  This is what REBus is all about, and the successful pilot projects show how this can work in practice.”

UniGreenScheme was assisted by REBus with their pilot project – collecting, storing and selling surplus equipment from UK universities, saving them disposal fees and returning them a share of the profit. This also keeps the products in play for longer – a critical part of the circular economy – and diverts waste from landfill.

A Strong Circular Economy

Over the duration of the pilot, the opportunity to establish a strong circular economy in the resale and re-use of equipment between universities and other sectors became apparent.  To date, the service has prevented 36 tonnes of waste, returned over £30,000 to universities, sold over 1,000 scientific instruments and generated £100,000 in revenue.

Michael McLeod, Founder and Managing Director of UniGreenScheme says:  “I wanted to reduce equipment waste in universities.  I knew what I wanted to achieve but understood that there was so much to do and that I needed help.  REBus seemed like a fantastic place to get that support.

“If we are to combat the global resource crisis – and we must – what we really need is for innovative business models to become ‘business as usual’.”

“The customer validation is so strong. We get phone calls almost every day from a new university wanting more information or asking to trial our services.  We have been making consistent steady growth and the financials look good; it seems the right time to scale up.”

Thanks to the pilot projects, a wealth of resources are now available on the REBus website for businesses considering setting up their own innovative business model – big or small.

Steve Creed from WRAP continues: “The pilot projects have used a range of different business model types, there are so many different and exciting possibilities, but it is about selecting the right one for your business. Whilst the pilot companies continue their great work into the next year, we hope other businesses are inspired by their successes to really think about making a step-change of their own.

“If we are to combat the global resource crisis – and we must – what we really need is for innovative business models to become ‘business as usual’.”

The REBus website includes a range of tried and tested resources to help organisations start or continue their innovative business model journey which includes step-by-step guides to implementing your REBM.  You can also learn from all the REBus pilot case studies as they are published to help inform your own REBM.

Get ahead of the game, get inspired, and join the pioneering innovative business model movement at



Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *