08.08.2016. Earth Overshoot Day 2016. On this day, we have consumed all natural resources available to humanity for this year. After that, we live and eat and travel on account of the future. If this date continues to move forward, at some point in the future, we will have exhausted the ability of our planet to provide us with primary resources and a place to dump our waste.
And still, even though global warming is progressing, even though 30% of all food is wasted, we believe there is still hope! Hope that it’s not too late for us to change.
To change, we must find out what got us into this miserable position in the first place. As so often, it is a matter of paradigm. In the last century, humanity has become incredibly good at optimising the efficiency of every single economic actor, every node that makes up the network of our economy. This is where we lost focus, in optimising nodes rather than the whole system of value chains that create outcome and impact alike.
But who is to blame? After all, everybody simply does what the market demands. Our existing, grown markets are really good at doing what was important 100 years ago. As globalization has changed the circumstances, existing markets cannot keep up with emerging challenges. The markets dictate the rules of the game, and the optimisation of entire value chains is not a part of it. Markets have become a master of change, rather than a servant. How can we return to systems thinking? How can we optimise our resource economy as a whole?
We need to change the game. We need a market that allows us to transform from our current take-make-waste business model towards one where value chains are interconnected, where waste is not dumped, but reused as a secondary resource. Thus: removing the current inefficiencies from our economy. This is exactly where Rethink Resource steps in. They believe, that it’s not too late to solve the sustainability problem of our current economy.
Rethink Resource takes a systemic approach that appeals to manufacturing and processing companies’ will to transform their business, through collaborative and sustainable innovations. Over and over, we see that the will and commitment to sustainability is strong, but the tool is missing. So we set out on our mission to provide the producing economy a platform to collaborate by trading side and waste streams and exchanging knowhow to allow them to autonomously transit to a circular economy. This way, with our partners, we want to start building more sustainable and resilient value chains. Sustainable, because more circular, less dependent on primary resources, less landfill and incineration. Resilient, because we remove rigidity from the resource economy and allow it to quickly adapt to whatever change may be coming.
Sustainable access to natural resources is essential to all of our lives. Opening up a platform for the industry to engage in a circular economy will strengthen the recycling and reuse opportunities and support sustainability innovations. Rethink Resource will facilitate the implementation of a circular economy. A functioning circular economy will put limits on incineration and significantly reduce landfilling but also reduce the excavation of primary resources and thus cut down carbon emissions.
To give a few examples, the Ellen McArthur Foundation estimates that a circular economy will create over 100’000 new jobs within the next 5 years and circularity in manufacturing could yield net materials cost savings of up to US$ 630 billion per year in the EU alone.