We round up themes from the last nine episodes, exploring how data is the key to solving problems of waste and underused assets, and why aligning values with your customers is important. Plus, Catherine is celebrating publication of the new edition of her award-winning A Circular Economy Handbook, and shares a code so you can save 20 percent on the print or e-book, worldwide.
Rob Thompson, of Odyssey Innovation in the UK, is an Multi-award winning Innovator, a Marine Conservationist, and a Social Entrepreneur. Rob started Odyssey Innovation to find a way to create value out of beach litter and marine plastics, and is now recycling those plastics into kayaks and other useful products. Rob also supports the Paddle for Plastic campaign.
Across Africa, and much of the world, end-of-use plastic is not collected for proper recycling. Instead, it is burnt; ends up in drains, sewers, fields and rivers; or in unprotected landfill, allowing toxins and microplastics to leak out. This is one of the hidden costs of our modern ‘linear’ economy – take, make and waste. Four entrepreneurs are turning that plastic waste into value – creating jobs for both disadvantaged and skilled people, improving local environments, and helping people find a purpose. We dig into their business models and hear their top tips for circular startups
Eco Brixs | lessons from social entrepreneurs in Africa | 30 under 30 | Don’t try to fix the problem
EcoBrixs Mission is “To create green, environmentally friendly, sustainable solutions to lift people out of abject poverty in Uganda”, and it does that by giving trash – waste plastic – a value. That means anyone in the community can recycle.
Eco Brixs started out in 2017. Frustrated with the lack of waste management systems in Masaka, Andy Bownds and his team started collecting plastic in his back garden, and after collecting 2 tonnes, decided to start a simple plastic collection facility called ‘Masaka Recycling Initiative’.
They went further, creating a circular economy solution to recycle plastic which would help support the local communities and economy. They developed an innovative plastic-sand composite paver which has been proven to be stronger, lighter and more durable than concrete. Fast-forward to 2019, and Masaka Recycling Initiative has now evolved into ‘Eco Brixs’, one of the largest recycling facilities outside of Kampala.
We talk to entrepreneur and designer Bassam Huneidi, about his Argeileh Project. Bassam is a circular economy designer and strategist, and a graduate of the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London. We hear how Bassam plans to disrupt one of the biggest traditions in the Arab world with a zero waste alternative that is better for the environment, cheaper for suppliers and better for public health, while providing the same experience for the user.
The Argeileh Project (or TAP for short) is a subscription based service that argeileh cafes sign up to. In return, Bassam’s team take the café’s current stock of argeilehs and melt them down into TAP vapes. These vapes are designed on cradle to cradle principles, so they are easy to maintain, easy to upgrade and in the case where neither is possible, infinitely recyclable.
In Episode 13 we talk to Beth Massa, founder of Ozarka. Beth and her husband Michael have created a collection of food-to-go containers, called ARK Reusables, so people can replace single-use plastics with reusable, returnable containers.
David Bassetti is co-founder of 3D Seed. When David moved to Spain around 10 years ago, he noticed how much plastic was being wasted, and was frustrated that it became litter, instead of being recycled into new materials.
David developed a simple way of grinding up plastic to recycle it into a feedstock for 3D Printing. 3D Seed sets up small-scale projects to grind up everyday plastic waste, such as PET soft-drinks and water bottles, and then to 3D Print it into small objects, as a way to engage people in seeing waste plastic as a valuable resource. The kit uses very little energy and can run on solar power.
Elaine Kerr, Deputy Director of International Synergies Northern Ireland talks about industrial symbiosis and how it ‘oils the wheels’ of the circular economy. Elaine explains what industrial symbiosis is, and how International Synergies provides research and facilitation for ‘resource matching’, helping organisations of all types and sizes.
We discuss the multiple benefits of industrial symbiosis: reducing waste and pollution (and associated costs); creating valuable new by-products, jobs, and social value; together with securing access to future resources by setting up local ‘ecosystems’ for materials.
Creating new, local feedstocks from redundant resources can also bring widespread benefits for the local economy, helping improve economic prosperity and resilience. We talk about changing attitudes and the ways young entrepreneurs and social enterprises are creating value from what we used to think of as ‘waste’.
Back from Helsinki, Peter shares his thoughts on the World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF 2019). There were plenty of links to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and lots of discussion (though no solutions) to the challenge of measuring circularity. Peter includes some circular economy examples from Europe and Africa, and tells us about the highlights of session focussed on bioeconomy solutions for plastics.