Chances are, if you’ve heard of the term ‘service economy’, you have heard it used in the context of services (versus products) being provided to the general public. The term is also used in the business context to refer to the services that are offered with a product. The entire package is more of a ‘business solution’ approach than just a product. For example, a business may rent or lease a copier or carpet rather than buy it. The vendor will then install and service this product over the life of the lease.
By purchasing these services rather than the objects themselves, the business is not responsible for the care or disposal of the rented items. As a result, the vendor has a vested interest in the maintenance of its product, and is more likely to install, service and dispose of the product by the most efficient means possible. The vendor is also more likely to create a more durable and upgradable product in the first place, since this will lower replacement costs. This, in turn, results in reduced demand for energy and raw materials, since less products need to be manfactured, thereby decreasing the negative impact on the environment.
Thus, one of the steps business owners can take to make their business more environmentally-friendly is to rent rather than purchase a material good. In the business place, items such as carpeting and copiers are perfect examples of the potential for a service-based economy. One company that has been at the forefront for many year is Interface. Others that have joined, in the copier and computer sectors, include IBM and Xerox. You can also check with local companies that may lease or rent a wider range of electronics, such as Natco in the DC area.
Regardless of who you use, make sure to ask how they dispose of the product (they should have a take-back program), and if leasing electronics, request that they be Energy Star certified.