The regional circular economy begins at the point of sale, where the globalised linear industrial economy ends with a firework of marketing and publicity activities; the objectives of the two economies are worlds apart. Distributors and salesmen rule the point of sale, acting as matchmakers between supply and demand, fighting for the attention of potential buyers.
At the initial point of sale, ownership of, and liability for, objects change from the industrial producer to the individual buyer-owner or professional fleet manager. These two buyer groups differ fundamentally with regard to access to tools and knowledge of repair and maintenance, and their relationship to objects as ‘tools’ or ‘toys’.
At any subsequent point of sale for reuse, ownership and liability are passed to the next owner of the object. Trust is central; think of banknotes as the most bought and sold second-hand objects. For remanufactured objects, liability at the point of sale may have to be revisited; for objects connected to the Internet of Things, liability and ownership are fuzzy, shared between producers of hardware and software and owner-users.
Food is a special case, due to its perishable nature, the fact that retailers are often key players and that waste prevention is the only solution to maintain value. Several European countries have recently passed a zero food waste legislation for retailers at the point of sale; surplus stocks of food should be donated to social institutions or people in need before the sell-by date is reached.