Solutions&Co encourages meetings and exchanges between the leaders of innovative solutions and larger-scale companies, with the aim of creating synergies and strengthening the impact of these positive initiatives.

Claire Pinet


Claire Pinet is the Economy of functionality promoter for the ADEME Consumer and Prevention service.

Circular economy expert
Claire Pinet

Economy of functionality: fewer goods, greater effectiveness


What future is there for an economy of functionality? For over a year and a half, ADEME has been working on this new economic model with intervention research laboratory ATEMIS, in collaboration with various other players deeply committed to the matter. A grounded exploration which anticipates a bright future for 2050, and many possible avenues for thought.


Let us imagine an economy where a producer would no longer simply sell their vegetables, but offer healthy eating guidance to citizens, together with other local bodies. Where earnings would increase as consumer health improved and waste and soil pollution decreased, putting an end to the sole prevailing logic of producing and selling an ever-increasing amount of material goods. Let us consider a world where we would not abide by the principle of selling equipment for a conference, but instead of comprehensively managing the organization of the meetings involved; making the appropriate technology available for customers, and most importantly ensuring the effectivity of a collaborative effort. A world where businesses would be paid according to the value they added, their economy of natural resources, their social progress. A world where everyone would not design their offers alone, but in close cooperation with relevant parties. This is the world of the prospective study carried out by ADEME: a vision of a sustainable economic model that deploys an economy of functionality.


Solutions towards sustainable development

This economy relies on selling effectiveness and no longer on selling goods. The point is to provide businesses, individuals or localities with comprehensive packages of services and goods without personal ownership of the goods required. These packages would entail the lowest possible utilization of material and natural resources in a circular economy perspective, increase people’s well being and provide sustainable development for localities. This accounts for ADEME’s particular interest in this economy. The prospective vision it presents shows the coherence and benefits of this new economic model, which is ecological, humanist and sustainable; capable of creating employment and forging social ties. Rather than focusing solely on the lifecycle of the products, ADEME’s approach favors the creation of value based on the service value of the offer and its positive effects, either direct or indirect, on citizens and the local social fabric. As it implies a relation of reinforced service between provider and recipient, this new economy relies on mobilizing the competencies of each and strong, adapted organization in an environment of mutual trust. It also relies on the cooperation of regional players – businesses, collectivities and civil society – to generate offers and call for innovative funding and governance strategies.


Means to be put into action

To make this vision a reality, ADEME’s study has identified six major challenges to be faced: implementing sustainable development policies in which environmental, social and economic dimensions remain closely bound together; being able to evaluate what holds value for different players (an effect, a resource etc.); creating conditions for spreading social innovation; developing a dynamic of cooperation and mutual commitment between players; initiating change at once in consumption habits, citizen behaviors and modes of production; ensuring  collaboration between service provision and product lifecycle management dynamics. There may be a long way to go, but ADEME wishes to initiate change alongside other committed players, supporting their local and business ventures.


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