Thursday, December 14, 2017

Circular Economy, Chinese style

In nature, the waste of one organism is food for another. Waste = Food. Decades ago, the concept of Industrial Ecology emerged, where industrial parks were designed such that the waste from one factory was input to another. 

Now China is adopting this form of industrial symbiosis. Here's an example:

A fertilizer factory is fed with vinasse, a byproduct of sugar, from a nearby beer brewery. A paper and pulp plant receives scrap wood from a nearby wood factory as input, while providing sludge for fertilizer, green mud for building materials, white sludge for a citric acid factory and a cement plant, wood chips for a charcoal factory, fly ash for a cement plant, and waste hot water for an aquaculture mill.
At the Sustainability Alliance, we believe there are missed opportunities here to develop small businesses that take our hard-to-recycle waste streams and make value-added products. Imagine a business, for example, that cuts wine and beer bottles to make glasses so that visitors can buy as a memento of their favorite local brew. Imagine engaging residents at senior centers to make sturdy and colorful shopping bags out of dog food bags, birdseed bags, and horse feed bags. We offer a Sustainable Entrepreneurship Microloan for Schools to encourage kids to experiment with potential business models. Talk to us if you have an idea.

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