A Rubbish Future, or a Waste Free World?

“Collaboration is key” if we’re going to create a waste-free world, says co-founder and director of Rubbish Ideas, Connor Bryant.

The world is on course for a rubbish future. We’re tearing up our environment in pursuit of natural resources and decimating our wildlife. We’re choking on pollution, poisoning ourselves and the planet.

We’re drowning in our own waste. Household waste, building waste, electrical waste, food waste – it doesn’t matter which sector you look at, it’s piling up, it’s burning and it’s pouring into our rivers and oceans.

Why is this happening? In simple terms it’s because we have a linear model that drives environmental destruction and creates more and more waste. Ignoring the limits of our finite resources we have created a system of infinite consumption with no consideration of what happens at the end of life.

But it’s not just about that, it’s about all the resources that go into making products, transporting them and using them. It’s about energy, water and our precious natural resources being destroyed, along with the wildlife that depends on it.

To address these existential problems we must evolve, both our mindsets and economic systems, fundamentally changing how the human world works. The next question is how?

The interesting thing is that we already have a 4.5 billion year old guide for what this could look like. We can see it, feel it and smell it. In nature there is no waste – everything operates in a regenerative, living, working ecosystem where the resources are used and re-used in continuous cycles.

The circular economy is not only imperative for human survival, it is also an opportunity to create a world of infinite abundance, and that’s what has inspired us at Rubbish Ideas

Learning from nature so we can live in harmony with it means we need to build our own regenerative cycles. Of course this model is ‘the circular economy’. The circular economy is not only imperative for human survival, it is also an opportunity to create a world of infinite abundance, and that’s what has inspired us at Rubbish Ideas.

So our mission is to create a waste-free world where humanity has everything we need, and to help others on this journey too. Here are three things we’re doing right now.

First is lifecycle tracking. We’ve created software to track products throughout their lifecycle including mapping the recovery and recycling at end of life. This enables the measurement of carbon emissions, energy consumption, recycling rates, and more.

The data is vital because you cannot solve a problem unless you understand it and it enables you to identify and test system optimisations to get the best results at the lowest cost. Also, the recycling rates and other data can be used for marketing, employee engagement and/or meeting legislative requirements.

Secondly, designing systems. We’re advising companies on how to, make, supply, and use products in a circular way as well as how to manage waste and ultimately eliminate it. So we help design closed loop supply chains and create waste management systems that facilitate recycling of all materials.

And third, using waste. We’re designing and creating products made from waste, and enabling other businesses to do the same. We help to transform difficult to recycle waste into usable materials for new sustainable products, and ensure they are recoverable again at end of life. This includes 3D printing large objects such as furniture and sculptures, from rubbish, in the world’s largest transportable printer.

One key thing to remember is that this is not simply about recycling. It’s about whole-life thinking, we must address the issue at every point in the supply chain in order to make the required transformation. In some cases, this means replacing products with services and in others it may even mean stopping an industry or sector that we could easily do without.

The challenge is huge, but the path is clear. And we need everyone to join us – collaboration is key. We all know that If we don’t create a waste-free world, we’re going to face a rubbish future.

Connor will be speaking at this year’s Festival of Circular Economy in the Panel: Three big questions on… How to achieve a truly circular economy. Check out the full speaker line-up here.



Send this to a friend