We have been recently talking about Capitalism 2.0, sustainability, ESG and the emerging Circular Economy. Today we will examine the problem of plastic pollution and see how some recent ideas have the potential to not only change our world, but also create opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors.
The problem of plastic pollution in our oceans, rivers and foreshores is now acute. The breakdown of plastics into Nanoplastics and its seeping into food chains is even more problematic.
I believe the flipside to all problems is opportunity- if we see it.
Australia and other countries now must deal with its own previously exported waste. This is as it should be. We all must take responsibility. Therein lies the opportunity. In a pure Circular Economy there is no waste. All supply chain inputs can be re-used in some way. All raw materials, including plastics have the potential for extended lifespans, and extended value.
It’s the value part of the equation we need to get right before we see massive change. Traditional economics is linear. Value is lost from waste. In a Circular Economy model value can be made perpetual.
In a recent TED Talk between Andrew Forrest of Fortescue Metals and Chair, Chris Anderson, A Radical Plan To End Plastic Waste (see Reference list below), Andrew discussed how he has been studying the science and business opportunities of plastic recycling. He has come up with the innovative idea that if we can raise the price of new plastic, then recycled plastic as a raw material can be cheaper. Manufacturers are then likely to switch to it. This will also kick off a recycling economy, particularly in developing countries.
This idea can create multiple layers of financial and environmental value. Each may be perpetual. For example, less manufactured new plastic in the world will positively impact climate change. Further information, including a petition can be found at the dedicated website: https://noplasticwaste.org/ .
Perhaps the purer innovation is to replace plastic with a completely natural raw material. Perhaps something that can also be emissions negative in its initial and subsequent life cycles. Plastic is derived from oil. As we transition away from oil and find new raw materials, perhaps natural, recyclable raw materials will be our guiding principle to build perpetual value creation.
I have studied natural and financial systems for many years now. It never ceases to amaze me how similar such systems can be. Seasonality in nature and global markets is a prime example. Fibonacci mathematics and patterns in nature and market movements is another. Closed Loop systems and the Circular Economy also have features similar to natural systems.
This brings us to an important idea- when we model our systems on nature, we find there is no waste, we find the potential for infinite, perpetual value.
Today, we now have the vision and the need. The will, the technology and the economy can soon follow if we make important choices soon. It is as if tectonic plates are aligning.
“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” – Henry David Thoreau.
By Lee Spano, Creatness International www.creatness.com
No Plastic Waste 2019, No Plastic Waste, viewed 23 October 2019, < https://noplasticwaste.org/ >.
TED Talk 2019, A Radical Plan To End Plastic Waste, viewed 23 October 2019, < https://www.ted.com/talks/andrew_forrest_a_radical_plan_to_end_plastic_waste?trk=organization-update-content_share-video-embed_share-article_title >