Act Local to Close the Loop
According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), $80 billion – $120 billion of plastic packaging material value is lost annually. And if business continues as usual, WEF estimates by 2050 oceans could contain more plastics than fish (by weight).
Got your attention, right?
There are several angles to look at this – goal setting, sustainable procurement, waste vendor due diligence, design-for-recycling/-composting/-reuse, etc. However, today, let’s talk about data sharing.
Think about it from the end – the end market that is. They rely on data that depicts the quantities and qualities of commodity materials in a wasteshed. Those factors dictate the price they pay and the product they can produce.
“If a data gap exists, as seen in our current federal, local, and proprietary systems, it creates a barrier to grow business models,” states Susan Graff, RRS vice president. “Overcoming that data gap will require greater transparency and platform sharing. That means looking and sharing outside of your organization to understand how you could better fit in a mutually beneficial system.”
Graff continued, “If the collective information exists on a common suite of materials, end markets can identify stable, sustainable sources of material for manufacturing.”
Imagine the closed loop system whereby the community collects and processes their recyclables; the end market, located near the community, transforms the recyclables into manufactured feedstock; the manufacturer, also located near the community, produces a product sold to the consumers; and consumers recycle the material after its use, thereby closing the loop.
Graff stated numerous benefits to engaging locally and sharing data including:
- Increased quantity and quality of recycling.
- Reduced time and costs due to close proximity of the wasteshed, processor and manufacturer.
- Less dependence on virgin resources/materials.
- Recycled feedstock could prove to be more stable source of supply.
- Job creation.
“Chief sustainability officers at global corporations are trying to figure out how they can provide products to satisfy global demand by utilizing sustainable operations, all while remaining profitable,” stated Graff.
Maybe it’s time they look at the data and act local to close the loop.