The Product-Life Institute is a virtual not-for-profit consulting organization devoted to developing sustainable strategies and policies. Since the mid-1970s, Stahel has been an accomplished circular economy pioneer and an active proponent of circular thinking since the publication of his 1976 report on the Potential for Substituting Manpower for Energy to the European Commission. His point of view is that a circular economy is about economics, and that waste managers have to become wealth preservation managers, moving up the value preservation chain.
Stahel organised the International Design Forum 1992 on the topic of “common utilisation instead of singular consumption”. He has written numerous papers, spoken at conferences, lectured on design for sustainability, and worked as consultant to industry and policymakers on developing and designing sustainable solutions. He founded the Geneva-based Product-Life Institute in 1983. Recent publications: in 2010, The Performance Economy; in 2013, a paper for the Royal Society on Policy for material efficiency—sustainable taxation as a departure from the throwaway society; in 2015, a book chapter with Roland Clift on stocks and flows in the performance economy.