The session ”New business models for sustainability” at the 19th BDF Summit shed light on the latest developments in the application of sustainable business models. The debate was kicked-off by
Dr. Florian Lüdeke-Freund, Senior Research Associate from University of Hamburg, who provided a definition of the concept of sustainable business model in general and green business models in particular. He pointed to the Nordic countries as front-runners and stressed that green business must be commercial and profit-driven, in order to secure interest from the business side to proceed with green investments.
Anders Lendager, Founder of Lendager Group continued the discussion by showcasing his company’s business model for sustainable architecture with measurable impact on reduction of CO2 and the creation of new jobs. Anders highlighted the need for a bigger systemic change with actions to be taken now to meet the future challenges of population growth and resource scarcity. By using a creative approach to solving problems – Mega problem or Mega Potential? – the company uses upcycling, i.e the utilization of waste materials, as a business niche with promising growth potential.
The final speker was Mari-Ann Meigo, Co-founder of Gelatex, a young start-up company from Estonia. She provided an interesting perspective on how low-value waste from meat industries can be recycled into a new organic leather-like textile as a substitute for leather.
The panel discussion addressed the challenges and opportunities in the circular economy, by referring to radical changes in society and extensive depletion of natural resources. The speakers commented on the drivers behind the new business ideas by mentioning environmental, technological, economic, and systemic drivers – in most cases in combination. It was also highlighted that a business case built around sustainability can be developed by various types of companies: small innovative start-ups, bigger companies, and SMEs that seem to have the most promising potential to succeed.
Furthermore, the panel expressed a wish to see more committed politicians with long-term strategies for securing a stable political framework for long-term investments. This is a prerequisite for a successful business when supply and demand are in balance, and policy makers should make sure to stimulate demand for sustainable products by regulatory efforts.