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Innventia imagines a cellulose-based society

June 8, 2016  By Cindy Macdonald

The Swedish research institute Innventia has published the third in its series of forward-looking reports that have gained a lot of international attention in recent years. With this report, A Cellulose-Based Society, Innventia focuses on the conditions for a vital social transformation – from a fossil-based and linear society where products are produced, used and then thrown away, to a biobased and circular society where “waste” as we think of it today will not exist and where all material will find a new use once it has served its initial purpose.

A Cellulose-Based Society highlights the conditions for any such transformation through the results of a comprehensive international survey, trends affecting development in key areas, and future scenarios that describe various outcomes based on an analysis of crucial uncertainties.

The report touches on the understanding that we live in a world where the ability to demonstrate ideas and concepts in reality is the route to sustainable social transformation.

“The consumer survey and trends show overall that the really successful brands and organisations will be those with the ability to actually demonstrate ground-breaking ideas and concepts in reality for consumers. The attitude to what is possible and desirable will then change. We call this the Demonstration Economy and understanding this is the key to social transformation,” says Marco Lucisano, Innventia.


The international consumer study in the report was carried out by Kairos Future during 2016, and includes 2,500 responses from consumers in five countries (U.S., China, Germany, Brazil and Sweden).

Eight trends moving forward
The trends in the report highlight changes in the world that are already shaping the future of mankind and that will have huge significance on the transition to a more sustainable society.

Here are the trends in brief, as presented by Innventia:

“The City Norm” puts the focus on how the speed and scope at which humanity is now crowding into cities is going to reshape and redefine our future. The cities contain the reasons for, and the solutions to, our most important challenges.

“The Need of Nature” shows how natural values do not reduce but rather increase as people become increasingly urbanised. Here you find examples of how emotional, health and practical qualities suggest that natural values will become increasingly important, and that the view of nature will change.

“No Waste” describes how increasing resource constraints and increased costs of waste management strengthen the impetuses for development towards an increase in reuse and recycling – with huge public support and ever stronger financial incentives.

“Econsumers – Econscious and Ecofused” points to how a growing number of consumers are committed to environmental and sustainability issues – and would be glad to pay a little extra for these values. At the same time, it is increasingly difficult to determine what “the right choices” are in a world where more and more goods are produced as “sustainable”.

“No More Plain Janes and Average Joes” portrays a development in which an increasingly heterogeneous mass market splits into a myriad of fast-moving niches, and where the “average consumer” as the target group is irrelevant. This means that the need for specialisation and branding will be increasingly important to achieve success.

“Shift Happens” describes how entry barriers and economies of scale are becoming less important in a globally competitive landscape where new technological and business opportunities are creating entirely new industries and players, while others quickly perish.

“Business Activism” illustrates a trend in which companies, on both business and ethical grounds, start to take an increasingly active role in the pursuit of a sustainable world. This has a particularly large impact at a time when both politicians and consumers are perplexed and disagree about the challenge of leading development in a positive direction.

“Innovation by Collaboration” highlights how organisations innovate their way of innovating – mainly by opening up their development departments and allowing in the ingenuity and insights that are outside the organisation. Customers, suppliers and even competitors have now been allowed into their own innovation workshops – and with good results!

Read more about the report here, on Innventia’s site.

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