Ben Jeffreys, co-founder of ATEC, is a multi award-winning social entrepreneur making better things happen. Right now, he’s focused on decarbonising cooking 🍳, which is a leading cause of illness and death for women and children,
The WHO says around a third of the global population cook using open fires or inefficient stoves fuelled by kerosene, biomass (wood, animal dung and crop waste) and coal. That generates harmful household air pollution 🤒, and inhaling those toxic fumes kills more people than malaria, and creates emissions, in the form of black carbon. The IPCC says that replacing these with clean stoves could save between 0.6 and 2.4 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent each year.
Ben and the ATEC team first got clear on the root cause of the key problems with existing biodigesters, in particular for regions like Cambodia, that are prone to annual floods. ATEC looked at how nature🌱 already solves this, and used that to create a ground-breaking biodigester design. Ben explains how ATEC has come up with other innovations, including using the IoT, to make the solution more affordable and circular, with potential for carbon credits.
We’ll hear about the many benefits for farmers and local households, how to design for unintended uses of manure, the role of methane in the environment, and some of the challenges of social media and social enterprise.
Before ATEC, Ben Jeffreys held leadership positions in strategy and growth with the likes of Oxfam, School for Social Entrepreneurs, and Westfield.
Ben describes his approach as unashamedly impatient and bold, and he believes that modern, decarbonised cooking can be a reality for a further 4 billion people by 2030. To Ben, this is not pipe-dream, but a technically solvable problem through disruptive technology, financial innovation, carbon markets and eCommerce. As well as being a trailblazer in his field, Ben is a family man, and puts purpose first, taking a big leap in 2015 when moving his young family to Cambodia to found the business.
Podcast host Catherine Weetman is a circular economy business advisor, workshop facilitator, speaker and writer. Her award-winning book: A Circular Economy Handbook: How to Build a More Resilient, Competitive and Sustainable Business includes lots of practical examples and tips on getting started. Catherine founded Rethink Global in 2013, to help businesses use circular, sustainable approaches to build a better business (and a better world).
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Read on for a summary of the podcast and links to the people, organisations and other resources we mention.
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Links we mention in the episode:
- A Circular Economy Handbook: How to Build a More Resilient, Competitive and Sustainable Business – buy from any good bookseller, or direct from the publisher Kogan Page, which ships worldwide (free shipping to UK and US) and you can use discount code CIRCL20 to get 20% off. It’s available in paperback, ebook and Kindle. If you buy it from online sources, make sure you choose the new edition with an orange cover!
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- ATEC website https://www.atecglobal.io/
- ATEC on Twitter https://twitter.com/atecglobal1
- ATEC on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/atecglobal1
- Ben Jeffreys on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/btjeffreys/
- Engineers without Borders https://ewb.org.au/
- World Health Organisation article on rural cooking and air pollution https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/household-air-pollution-and-health
- World Economic Forum article on the impacts of air pollution from cooking https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/10/polluting-cooking-fuels-deaths-women-climate/
About Ben Jeffreys
Ben Jeffreys is a multi-award winning social entrepreneur driven to make better things happen. Right now, his focus is on decarbonising cooking globally, a leading cause of death for women which also generates 2% of global emissions.
Having previously held leadership positions in strategy and growth with the likes of Oxfam, School for Social Entrepreneurs, and Westfield, Ben is the CEO and co-founder of clean cooking and climate change startup, ATEC.
Unashamedly impatient and bold in his approach, Ben believes that modern, decarbonised cooking can be a reality for a further 4 billion people by 2030. To Ben, this is not pipe-dream, but a technically solvable problem through disruptive technology, financial innovation, carbon markets and eCommerce.
Ben is not only a trailblazer in his field, he’s a proudly present family man, big-hearted, and puts purpose before traditional notions of security. Like the leap he and his young family took in 2015 when moving to Cambodia to found ATEC.
Ben leads with questions, not statements – and it’s this insatiable curiosity that allows the ATEC team to learn, work at pace, and grow.
Want to find out more about the circular economy?
To go deeper, you could buy Catherine’s book, A Circular Economy Handbook: How to Build a More Resilient, Competitive and Sustainable Business. This comprehensive guide uses a bottom-up, practical approach, and includes hundreds of real examples from around the world, to help you really ‘get’ the circular economy. Even better, you’ll be inspired with ideas to make your own business more competitive, resilient and sustainable.
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Thanks to Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow, otherwise known as the brilliant, inventive and generous folk duo, O’Hooley & Tidow for allowing me to use the instrumentals from the live version of Summat’s Brewin’ as music for the podcast. You can find the whole track (inspired by the Copper Family song “Oh Good Ale”) on their album, also called Summat’s Brewin’. Or, follow them on Twitter.