Sustainable business model archetypes

Sustainable business models include a triple bottom line approach and consider a wide range of stakeholder interests – including environment and society – into the way business is done. They are important in driving corporate innovation for sustainability, can help embed sustainability into business purpose and processes, and serve as a key driver of competitive advantage.

Many innovative concepts and approaches may contribute to delivering sustainability through business models, such as dematerialisation and choice editing, but these have not been collated under the theme of business model innovation. Through literature and business practice review, a wide range of examples, mechanisms and solutions that contribute to business model innovation for sustainability were identified. These were collated and analysed to develop a categorisation of sustainable business model archetypes.

Sustainable business model archetypes are groupings of mechanisms and solutions that contribute to building up the business model for sustainability. The aim is to develop a common language that can be used to accelerate the development of sustainable business models in research and practice.

The sustainable business model archetypes are:

  • Maximise material and energy efficiency;
  • Create value from ‘waste’;
  • Substitute with renewables and natural processes;
  • Deliver functionality rather than ownership;
  • Adopt a stewardship role;
  • Encourage sufficiency;
  • Re-purpose the business for society/environment;
  • Develop scale-up solutions.


Each of these archetypes will be discussed in greater detail in subsequent blog posts.



This blog is based on the following article:


Bocken, N.M.P., Short, S.W., Rana, P., Evans, S. A literature and practice review to develop Sustainable Business Model Archetypes. Journal of Cleaner Production (in press/ Open Access)




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