“The functional economy favours use over possession and tends towards services linked to products rather than the products themselves.”  ADEME



Following studies relating to the rarefaction of natural resources, to global warming due to too high a consumption of fossil energy, to the exponential consumption of convenience goods, to their quick changes and the flow of resulting waste, the “repairing instead of throwing away” and “renting instead of buying” approaches, guzzling fewer resources and energy, are more topical than ever.

Falling within this logic, the functional economy is an emerging approach that aims at replacing the sale of products by selling the use.

The producer of the good remains the owner in a contractual way and invoices the client for the use of the product.

The economic value of the product no longer relies on its exchange value, but on its use value.

In this way, the producer does everything to build a robust easy to repair product, which considerably increases the lifespan.

The longer the product is used the more money it makes for the producer.

For the consumer, the value of a product resides in the function, in other words the benefits that he gets out of its use in response to his need, and not in the possession of the product in question.

In this context, the product is used in much more of a well-thought out way generating financial, energy and material savings.


This principle has many advantages on an environmental and economic level.

  • Reducing energy and raw material consumption
  • Increasing products’ lifespan
  • Optimised waste management


In the framework of the functional economy, given that the producer remains owners of its product, it must design it so that its lifespan is as long as possible (ecodesign).

This leads to a decrease in the quantities produced and therefore a reduction in resource and energy needs.

Furthermore, as repairs are the producer’s responsibility, the latter will specially see to making repairing its product and replacing its components easier.

This new paradigm shall have a substantial impact on the quantity of waste produced and will facilitate the re-use.

With regard the consumers, the equation is very simple: the more you consume the more you pay.

The time has come to rethink our way of consuming goods and services, with no fundamental sacrifice but by increasing our level of awareness.


The icing on the cake, this approach that will transform our consumption society into a functionality society, also guarantees household savings …


A concrete example: the car


No longer buy a car but pay per kilometre travelled.

Rather than systematically taking your car with a thermal engine for a little trip, the consumer could favour an alternative transport solution (shared trip, electric vehicle, bike, public transport …)

No more long journeys alone in your car to go to work, car sharing would be favoured to make the costs by the kilometre cost-effective…and also relieve traffic congestion.

The sharing of a car among several people could also become a new economic and social model.

This new approach would obviously be beneficial for the environment:

  • Less fuel consumption – reduction in greenhouse gas
  • Lifespan of vehicles prolonged (resource savings)
  • Reduction in waste production (re-use, repair…)


In practice, it’s clear that this requires a huge change in mentality.

Producers and consumers must be aware that the current economic model no longer corresponds to the reality of the era in which we live.

Wilmet Namur