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3 considerations when solving the “stuff conundrum”

July 21, 2016

3 considerations when solving the “stuff conundrum”

By Kevin Moss
Thursday 21 July 2016

We face a conundrum. The population is growing and expected to reach 9 billion people between 2040 and 2050. If world governments and civil society are successful in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, billions of people will rise out of poverty. And 9 billion people consuming as much stuff — food, clothing, gas and merchandise — as today’s average middle class person will simply strip the planet bare.

The answer to this conundrum is to reinvent our business models in the context of this new reality. Improving efficiency is not enough. We need to reengineer our current model of pulling material out of the earth and then tossing waste into landfills.

On July 7, 2016 I moderated a panel discussion in Washington, D.C. hosted by the Embassy of The Netherlands. The panelists represented companies embracing what we call the “circular economy,” or an economic model by which waste is not just avoided, but is completely re-envisaged. They shared three insights on how the circular economy can work for consumers, for businesses and for the planet:

1) Bake circular design into the business model.
For each of these companies, circular design was a priority at the early stages of business model development. gDiapers, a compostable diaper company based in Australia, was founded by a husband and wife after they became parents and were shocked by the amount of diaper waste they produced.

Inashco, a Dutch company, formed to make use of the metals and minerals that can be harvested from the ash of industrial incinerators. And Philips, the lighting manufacturer, is now moving toward providing lighting services rather than individual light bulbs alone. For example, the company holds a 10-year lighting maintenance contract with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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