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Resource-Productive Operations

We help companies become more efficient and cut costs by reducing energy requirements, minimizing waste, maximizing recycling and reuse, and rethinking resource ownership.

When sustainability programs achieve limited impact, it is often because they pay too little attention to the cost of energy and materials, the role of external suppliers and end users, and the integrated nature of production processes. We help clients overcome these challenges by redesigning operations from beginning to end and treating them not as a value chain but a value circle in which collecting, sorting, and reusing discarded products makes a positive contribution to resource productivity.


We advise companies on achieving maximum energy efficiency, selecting energy sources, addressing security of supply, and preparing for potential regulatory changes, such as the introduction of a carbon tax. Recently we helped a client that had already completed an energy program to triple its energy cost savings at its top site. In five recent programs we helped clients in power generation, chemicals, steel, pulp and paper, and mining capture savings in CO2 emissions amounting to over 1 million tonnes.

Product design

We offer state-of-the-art "design to value" tools that enable companies to identify and reduce a product's environmental footprint throughout its entire life cycle from raw materials to production, consumption, recycling, and reuse. We have worked with clients on redesign projects ranging from cosmetics packaging to heavy machinery, yielding materials savings of up to 30 percent.

Supply circle management

We help companies go beyond standard purchasing approaches to work in close collaboration with suppliers, where as much as 80 percent of a product's value may be created. This involves implementing lean manufacturing to improve suppliers' operations and optimizing interfaces between suppliers and manufacturing plants. Some clients pursuing this strategy have achieved savings of 10 to 20 percent in materials costs alone, as well as substantially reducing their environmental footprint. We also support clients in thinking strategically about the future of resources and how new patterns of product ownership could create competitive advantage.

Recycling and reuse

We help utilities and manufacturers understand the effects of new technologies and regulation on the waste market and optimize their operations from salesforce to waste collection. We also assist cities as they develop strategies to avoid waste, increase recycling and reuse, and reduce costs.

Most companies have scope to create value by improving supplier management and resource ownership. New patterns of resource ownership along the value circle have the potential to reshape entire industries, especially in manufacturing. Beyond that, our experience shows that the biggest opportunities for impact depend on where a company operates within the value circle:

  • Upstream companies that produce raw materials, such as steelmakers, are up to 10 times more energy-intensive than companies that turn raw materials into products, and can derive maximum benefit by saving energy in production and securing a supply of materials from recycling and reuse.
  • Downstream companies such as product manufacturers can gain most by redesigning products so that they consume less energy during production and in use, and can be recycled more easily and completely. Another efficiency opportunity lies in ownership of recycling and reuse.
  • Companies in the waste collection, recycling, and disposal industries can achieve the greatest impact by creating market conditions that encourage recycling and reuse, and turning collection and sorting into a valuable resource stream. New markets are already emerging in areas such as discarded electronics.

Featured experts

Ken Somers

Partner, Brussels

Johan Ahlberg

Senior Partner, Stockholm

Impact story

A global brewer plans to cut emissions by half—and save over $200 million

Carbon abatement measures can deliver long-term economic benefits.