Product Service Systems for Office Furniture Barriers and Opportunities on the European Market
Abstract: The frequent replacement of office furniture contributes to the increasing production of solid waste that leads to the use of more landfill space. Germany only produces approximately 700000 t of office furniture waste per year whereas most of this waste goes to landfill or incin-eration (Nolte, 2001). In addition, there are concerns about the use of hazardous chemicals in office furniture production. These environmental problems call for a more efficient use of of-fice furniture in order to decrease emissions and waste amounts. Literature (for example Witte, 2000) has identified product life extension and remanufacturing strategies for used of-fice furniture as a promising option to close material loops in the office furniture industry. One obstacle with regard to product life extension strategies such as repair and maintenance services was that they diminish the producer's business opportunity to sell more furniture. Some authors (for example Manzini, 2001) have proposed the idea of Product Service Systems (PSS) as a business model that can decouple the business success of companies from the amount of sold products. PSSs are concepts that try to complete or substitute traditional busi-ness models with a service offer, which ideally leads to reduced environmental impacts. The purpose of this Master Thesis is to examine the opportunities and barriers for the implementa-tion of a PSS for office furniture and to identify possibilities to overcome these obstacles. The research involved the development of a PSS scenario for office furniture, which served as a discussion basis for interviews with manufacturers, customers and experts. The study has identified several barriers for the practical application of the PSS scenario for office furniture: financial risk for the service provider, difficult market conditions, no legisla-tive pressure for and no interest in environmental improvements, adversarial characteristics of office furniture, organisation's resistance to change and the importance of fashion and design. The Master's thesis concludes that the practical implementation of the developed PSS scenario will probably not lead to much success under the current market conditions and suggests how the scenario can be adjusted to offer environmental benefits and provide alternative business ideas to producers. Further research should conduct an in depth profitability analysis for the adjusted PSS scenario and evaluate customer needs in more detail.
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