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EARTH, INC. Using nature’s rules to build sustainable profits. Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything bett er . - Albert Einstein . Gregory Unruh Harvard University Press 2010. Value Chain (Unruh, 2010). Supporting Activities (HR, R&D, Infrastructure) . Margin.

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earth inc using nature s rules to build sustainable profits

EARTH, INC.Using nature’s rules to build sustainable profits

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everythingbetter.

- Albert Einstein

Gregory Unruh

Harvard University Press


value chain unruh 2010
Value Chain (Unruh, 2010)

Supporting Activities (HR, R&D, Infrastructure)


Inbound Logistics


Outbound Logistics

Sales & Marketing


Value-adding steps

the value chain in its biospheric context
The Value Chain in its Biospheric Context

Natural Capital






biosphere rules
Biosphere Rules
  • Materials Parsimony
  • Power Autonomy
  • Value Cycles
  • Sustainable Product Platforms
  • Function over Form
1 materials parsimony
1. Materials Parsimony

Minimize the types of materials used in products with a focus on materials that are life-friendly and economically recyclable.

Business benefits of materials parsimony

Biosphere rule Business benefit

Materials parsimony Reduced supplier complexity

Reduced production complexity

Reduced toxics risk

Volume purchase discounts

Improved health and safety

Improved worker productivity

Improved product attributes

Improved environmental performance`

1 materials parsimony1
1. Materials Parsimony

Parsimonious materials palette

Negative Screen


Positive Screen


2 power autonomy
2. Power Autonomy

Maximize the power autonomy of products and processes so they can function on renewable energy

Business benefits of power autonomy

Biosphere rule Business benefit

Power autonomy Reduced energy costs

Reduced compliance costs

Reduced processing costs

Improved environmental performance

Improved customer performance

Optimized for renewable energy

2 power autonomy1
2. Power Autonomy

Renewable power generation

Total power demand

Power autonomy convergence point

100% fossil fuels

The ‘Joe Ling’ efficiency curve*


Renewable generation curve




Power autonomy factor= (X/X+Y)

*Joe Ling, VP of 3M, initiator of eco-efficiency programs (3P: Pollution Prevention Pays - 1975)

3 value cycles
3. Value Cycles

Business benefits of value cycles

Biosphere rule Business benefit

Value cycles Input cost savings

Reduced processing costs

Reduced supplier risk

Increased control over brand reputation

Improved asset management

Improved customer information

Recover and reincarnate materials from end-of-use goods into new value-added products.

3 value cycles1
3. Value Cycles


Product level

Shallow-loop recycling

Components level

Deep-loop recycling

Materials level

Product manufacturing hierarchy

4 sustainable product platforms
4. Sustainable Product Platforms

Business benefits of sustainable product platforms

Biosphere rule Business benefit

Increasing product Compound above benefits through scale platforms Compound above benefits through scope

Foundation to accumulate learning by doing

Build robust cross-industry platform demand

Leverage your value cycle as a product platform for scale, scope, and knowledge economies.

platform governance spectrum
Platform Governance Spectrum

Vertical integration



Self-organizing coordination through market forces and open standards

Example: Commodities (steel)

Sole control of all platform elements

Example: Shaw Industries (carpeting)

Collaborative coordination of platform tasks

Example: Coca-Cola, Patagonia

5 function over form
5. Function over Form

Business benefits of function over form

Biosphere rule Business benefit

Function over form Generate ongoing revenue stream Greater customer knowledge

Increased control over asset base

Convergence into expanded offerings

Fulfill customers’ needs in ways that sustain the value cycle


Accumulating knowledge economies

Reverse logistics

Process technologies

Convert & Cool Blue

Reentry 2.0


PVC and


Company side

Customer side

Tac-Tiles & Entropy

Evergreen lease

Installed base



Functional value provision

The Interface value cycle