Share the commitment to circularity
Effective waste-to-value strategies, also known as waste valorisation, is a business imperative. Successful waste valorisation goes far beyond the remit and resources of a single company.
The complexity of shifting entire waste streams and resource management models requires cross-industry knowledge. Organisations need to collaborate and drive action across traditional industry and sector boundaries.
This can be done in a number of ways, including joining consortiums and networks such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to share knowledge, and investing in start-ups, partnerships and acquisitions.
The key here is industry collaboration to take the leap, trust technology and back the investment. Technology will not solve everything at once, but it will help to gradually replace current open loop systems.
For example, PA partnered with a sustainable clothing resale platform to build systems that linked to the APIs of leading clothing brands, enabling the platform to bring unwanted clothes back into circulation, generate rewards for platform users and turn potentially wasted materials into something of value.
We need to think about the future of waste and how its composition will change over the next few decades. Given the pace of change and lead-times for new technology to reach readiness, the time to think about new forms of waste is now.
Future waste streams must be processed differently, either closing into a circular loop or reaching end-of-life in a more sustainable way. This starts with looking at sustainability trends within design and manufacturing.
The use of biomaterials such as seaweed as a plastic alternative is scaling rapidly. Notpla, for example, makes edible drinks containers out of seaweed-derived materials.
More waste will be generated by clean energy alternatives such as wind turbines and solar panels. By 2030, it is estimated that materials recovered from solar could be worth $450m (£361.6m), rising to $15bn by 2050.
The technology is there and so is the willingness. We now need a shared commitment to make things happen and to trial technology-backed solutions.
By creating closed-loop systems, organisations can wrap their arms around waste and move one step closer towards the perfect circle.