Waste as a bad
How do you change the narrative of waste? It makes me come over all TED thinking about this – I believe this is an idea worth spreading 🙂 Waste is the ugly sister of the industrial sector, the word has only negative (and smelly) connotations. We need to get from that kind of mental imagery to waste as a good – an opportunity rather than something that goes in the bin.
The ancient story of waste goes way back to the Romans and the modern story starts in the 60s when manufacturing started to become cheap. The two eras can be roughly divided into a time when resources were scarce (pre 60s) and then abundant (60s onwards).
The global volume of waste produced in the last 50 years is closely linked to cheap energy and short-term manufacturing obsolescence – we witnessed a de-coupling of price between commodities and everyday goods. Since 2000 prices began to rises which were passed on to the consumer – the relationship between the cost of natural resource extraction and making everyday goods has started to equilibrate. At the same time we’re about to live through the quickest and biggest expansion of the middle-class the planet will ever observe with a massive uplift in consumption of ‘stuff’.
The thread between ancient Rome and today is we don’t value what we buy because it’s cheap. And it’s cheaper to buy something new rather than getting it fixed.
How does that change? Unfortunately, it happens at the last possible moment when macro-economic and environmental drivers create a petri-dish of opportunity which businesses can’t hold back from:
- Natural resources become more expensive with an associated rise in cost of goods for the consumer
- Legislation acts as a driver, see for example food waste policy in Scotland
- Businesses take note of new opportunities – like Bio-Bean
Not long from now we may also see the word waste disappear from common vocabulary, replaced with ‘resource’.