Environmental assessment of a product-service system for renting electric-powered tools

To address increasing environmental sustainability concerns among consumers, many companies have developed approaches to provide functions, rather than products through product-service systems (PSS). This study evaluates a use-oriented tool rental service from Husqvarna, called ‘Tools for you,’ with the aim to identify critical processes to improve the sustainability of the offering. The environmental implications of the system are assessed using life cycle assessment for the annual service of one electric chainsaw and compared with a conventional sales alternative. The results suggest that rental service is influenced extensively by the location of the rental depot. Furthermore, while the impacts of the product and accessories, infrastructure, waste management, and use are reduced compared to the sales alternative, their contribution is only minor compared to environmental impacts from transportation. The results are also sensitive to the methodological choices, where the lifetime of the products, data choices, transportation assumptions, maintenance intervals, and other user-related variables for the use of the products have a significant influence on the results. The conclusions confirm and extend previous assertions on the challenges of applying LCA to PSS and add to the emerging literature on sustainable business models through empirical evidence from a case study. The findings also point to the holistic insights required to optimize the potential environmental sustainability of the services for Husqvarna and other retailers interested in adopting use-oriented business models. Future research could focus on the geographical differences of the rental lockers worldwide, models for optimizing their location, in addition to further input on user behavior, and the role of refurbishment and remanufacturing for more robust analyses of the sustainability of PSS offerings.

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