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
Social benefits from circular approaches, including regeneration of local resources, creating jobs for disadvantaged or excluded groups, social enterprises, and so on.
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.
Close the Loop | Linear risk & circularity gaps | Circularity for human development | Happy Hustle giveaway | Hot Air
Inclusive capitalism | Circular economy behaviour change | Circularity Gap Widens | Circular Bricks | Peter’s blog, Podcast 19, Davos and more
The circular economy is an essential tool in mitigating the negative impacts of the climate and ecological crisis. We in the Global North need to do more than anyone, given that we created the problem in the first place. By taking on board the principles of a circular economy, engage in conversation with those around us, lobby people in power and take circular actions in our businesses and homes. This will mean we can move away from our current linear economy as well as reducing carbon emissions which will improve prosperity, enhance the reputation of business, and create healthier lifestyles to the benefit of ourselves and our planet.
ApparelXchange is a Scottish social enterprise aiming to make it easy to reuse school uniforms, instead of wasting them.
ApparelXchange works with schools across Glasgow (age groups 7-18) to gather uniforms, and process them so they can be reused. There is an online shop, a store in Glasgow plus pop-up shops in schools.
We discuss how to make reuse and pre-loved clothing cool, how to persuade people to opt-out of fast fashion, and some of the subscription models popping up for clothing.
Episode 10 is our first circular economy highlights compilation! Perfect listening to spark your ideas for building a better business in 2020. This would be a GREAT episode to share with someone new to the podcast, or new to the circular economy.
We explore the food circular economy, with Lucy Antal of food campaigning charity Feedback Global. Lucy explains Feedback’s aim to regenerate nature by transforming our food system. Feedback promotes a circular economy approach to food surplus – using it to feed people, animals and the soil. We talk about farm gate waste, overproduction and ‘gleaning’, supermarket labelling and Feedback’s work with community groups and children. We discuss the importance of food citizenship and connecting food, people and our environment.
We chat about some of Lucy’s projects, including a new social enterprise, Alchemic Kitchen, and Regional Food Networks.
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’.