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04.07.2019

The four new projects in NRP 73

The new projects fill gaps in NRP 73’s research and address legal aspects of the transformation, sustainable patterns of consumption and international trade relations.

Legal framework for a resource-efficient circular economy

Global demand for goods and food has continued to rise in recent years. At the same time, the lifespans and time in service of many goods have become shorter and a large proportion of food is wasted. In response to this situation, steps need to be taken so that consumer goods and foods are used in a more sustainable manner. A suitable legal framework and changes in behaviour will be required to bring about a more resource-efficient circular economy. Sebastian Heselhaus from the University of Lucerne plans to propose a legal framework that supports existing projects to avoid food waste and encourage people to have goods repaired. In the process, incentives for industry, manufacturers and consumers will be developed.

Rebound effects of the sharing economy

Products are increasingly being shared with other people through sharing platforms. While this is expected to reduce environmental impact, the extent to which the money saved or earned by using these platforms might increase resource use is unclear. The main goal of the project led by Claudia Binder of the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) is to better understand the values and motivations of sharing platform users and to highlight ways of reducing the negative environmental impact of sharing, thereby promoting the sustainability of the sharing economy.

Extending the lifespan of mobile devices

Mobile Internet-enabled devices have their greatest negative environmental impact during production. Extending their lifespan can reduce their environmental footprint. The research project led by Yann Blumer from Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) is analysing the factors that motivate people to buy and use mobile devices, while also investigating the role of various market players such as repair businesses and online platforms. The project is evaluating the associated direct and indirect environmental impacts.

Sustainable trade relations for diversified food systems

Specialised food systems are primarily focusing on the quantity of food production, while diversified food systems are based on sustainability. Promoting the latter requires more sophisticated trade relations. Elisabeth Bürgi-Bonanomi from the University of Bern and her team want to show how the public sector can distinguish sustainably produced food from less sustainably produced food, and promote the former in a non-discriminatory way that respects constitutional objectives and complies with international obligations. The researchers are investigating the challenges presented by private-sector certification systems, asking farmers for their perceptions and analysing new approaches to product differentiation.

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Dr Barbara Dubach Head of Knowledge and Technology Transfer +41 79 322 83 43 barbara.dubach@engageability.ch