Thursday, April 30, 2020

Unique Circular Economy Projects

3 Companies with Unique Circular Economy Projects

31 MARCH 2019

The circular economy is all about generating zero waste while keeping our valuable limited resources within the economy for as long as possible. While that sounds like a lot of technical work that involves complicated blueprints and diagrams, there are actually many unique and creative ways that a company can contribute to the circular economy. Here are three of these unique circular economy projects.

Suroboyo Bus Line: Turning plastic into currency
‘That’ll be five plastic bottles, please.’

Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, has taken an original approach to tackling their plastic pollution problem. Their solution: you can now pay your bus fare in plastic bottles.

A two-hour bus ride will cost you approximately five plastic bottles, or ten plastic cups. Starting in April, this initiative is an attempt to reach the city’s goal of being plastic waste free by 2020. As Indonesia is estimated to be the second largest contributor to ocean plastic, and as Surabaya generates 155,400 tonnes of plastic waste per day, this is no doubt an ambitious target.

Nonetheless, these steps are sure to help. By giving people an incentive to collect their plastic waste, the city can simultaneously teach their citizens responsible waste management and ensure that their plastics are routed out of the oceans and back into the economy.

The bottles that are collected as payment for the bus fares are auctioned off to recycling companies, where they will be processed and turned into new plastic products. Furthermore, after helping towards the bus line’s operating costs, the surplus money earned at the auction is put towards funding of green spaces around the city. A creative three-in-one, this program keeps the city green and clean, keeps the plastics out of the ocean and within the economy.

Children wait in line to trade their plastic bottles for a bus ticket in Surabaya, Indonesia. Source: Reuters

DGTL Festival: Turning glasses into art
DGTL Festival is an artsy techno music festival in Amsterdam whose mission is to become the world’s first circular festival. They are working towards this goal in various ways, like their Circular Foodcourt, where they base their menu not around what festival goers want to eat but around what leftover ingredients are available from local stores.

This year, they are taking this circularity to their art scene. Together with Ace & Tate, an eyewear company, the two circular-driven organizations are turning 15,000 surplus optics lenses into a magnificent art installation that will be on display at the festival from the 19th to the 21st of April.

‘Instead of a take-make-waste process, we try to make it circular and make new products out of waste streams,’ says Marlot Kiveron, Sustainability Manager of Ace & Tate. Rather than disposing of these 15,000 unwanted lenses, why not use them to give the festival a little bling?

Timberland: Turning tires into shoes
‘When the tread wears out the tire lives on, recycled into Timberland shoes.’

Timberland, creator of the world-famous ‘Timbs’ boots, has recently expanded into the tire market. The purpose: making their boots circular.

Partnering with Omni United, a tire manufacturer, they are set to produce their new line of Timberland Tires, which are specifically created with the intention that they will one day be recycled into a brand new pair of Timberland shoes.

Once the tread on the Timberland Tires has worn out, the customer can replace them with new ones at authorized dealers. The retired tires are then recycled into crumb rubber, which is turned into outsoles for a pair of Timberland boots.

Timberland is penetrating the circular economy at an earlier stage than most, by producing tires that are specifically destined to re-enter the economy at their end-of-life. Instead of finding themselves in a landfill, which is where 27 million scrap tires end up, Timberland Tires are given a new life in the form of a pair of trendy Timberland boots.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Doughnut Economic Model

Meet the doughnut: the new economic model that could help end inequality

Image: Kate Raworth and Christian Guthier/The Lancet Planetary Health

28 Apr 2017

Kate Raworth
Senior Visiting Research Associate, Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University

They say a picture speaks a thousand words, so here’s the state of humanity in a single image. It’s the “Doughnut” of social and planetary boundaries and it could just turn out to be the compass we need for creating a safe and just 21st century.

The hole at the Doughnut’s centre reveals the proportion of people worldwide falling short on life’s essentials, such as food, water, healthcare and political freedom of expression – and a big part of humanity’s challenge is to get everyone out of that hole. At the same time, however, we cannot afford to be overshooting the Doughnut’s outer crust if we are to safeguard Earth’s life-giving systems, such as a stable climate, healthy oceans and a protective ozone layer, on which all our wellbeing fundamentally depends.

Safe and just space

If getting into the Doughnut’s safe and just space between these social and planetary boundaries is humanity’s 21st century goal, then – it comes as no surprise – we have a big job ahead. Many millions of people still lack life’s essentials, living daily with hunger, illiteracy, insecurity and voicelessness. At the same time, humanity’s collective pressure on the planet has already overshot at least four planetary boundaries: for climate change, land conversion, fertilizer use, and biodiversity loss.

In other words, today’s global economy is deeply divisive – riven with extreme inequalities – and it is degenerative too, running down the living world on which everything depends.

What economic mindset can give us even half a chance of turning this situation around? This is the question at the heart of my book, Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist, and here I’ll focus on just one of those seven ways: a revolution in economic thinking about inequality.

Progress for everyone

Inequality seems to have become the topic of our times, even though barely a decade ago it was politely kept off the agenda. Thanks to the past 10 years of ground-breaking analysis – including Wilkinson and Pickett’s The Spirit Level, Oxfam’s annual billionaire calculations and Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century – combined with the extraordinary rise of the 1%, the promise to tackle inequality now appears high on every policymaker’s list. We are daily offered “inclusive growth” and “an economy that works for everyone”. So what kind of economic mindset can help bring it about?

Certainly not 20th-century thinking on inequality, which was ruled by a spurious economic law of motion. And that law’s accidental creator, Simon Kuznets, would be the first to debunk the political narrative that has been built on the back of it, used to justify trickle-down economics and austerity politics ever since.

In 1955, Kuznets gathered together patchy historical data on income distribution in the US, UK and Germany, and he thought he saw a pattern: that as economies grew, income inequality rose at first and then fell. Plotted on the page, it looked like an upside-down U.

Kuznets was the first to acknowledge that this finding went against his intuition: given the dynamics of capital accumulation, he expected the rich to get richer, not the poor to catch up. So he proffered a tentative explanation based on the process of rural-to-urban migration – a hypothesis for which he later admitted he had “no evidence whatsoever”. He even openly acknowledged that his conclusion was based on “5 per cent empirical information and 95 per cent speculation, some of it possibly tainted by wishful thinking’, later adding that it should not be used for making “unwarranted dogmatic generalisations.”

So much for Kuznets’ caveats. The underlying message – that rising inequality is an inevitable stage on the journey towards economic success for all – was too good a story to doubt and the Kuznets Curve was taught to every student for at least the next 50 years. That matters because it wordlessly whispers a powerful message: if you want progress, inequality is inevitable. It’s got to get worse before it can get better and growth will (eventually) make it better.

So what new paradigm can replace this outdated myth and its accompanying intellectual graffiti? An old picture is best dislodged by a new one, so let’s start with a 21st-century image fit for tackling inequality: a network of flows.

A network of flows: structuring an economy as a distributed network can more equitably distribute income and wealth amongst all those who help to generate it.

Distributive by design
To transform today’s divisive economies, we need to create economies that are distributive by design – ones that share value far more equitably amongst all those who help to generate it. And thanks to the emergence of network technologies – particularly in digital communications and renewable energy generation – we have a far greater chance of making this happen than any generation before us.

As we do so, we should also deepen the ambition of the redistribution agenda. In the 20th century, policies promoting redistribution were largely focused on redistributing income – by raising taxes, increasing transfers, and implementing minimum wages – along with investing in key public services such as health and education. All are essential, but they still don’t get to the root of economic inequalities because they focus on income, not the sources of wealth that generate it.

Instead of focusing foremost on income, 21st-century economists will seek to redistribute the sources of wealth too – especially the wealth that lies in controlling land and resources, in controlling money creation, and in owning enterprise, technology and knowledge. And instead of turning solely to the market and state for solutions, they will harness the power of the commons to make it happen. Here are some questions that 21st century economists have already taken on to help create an economy that is distributive by design:

Land and resources: how can the value of Earth’s natural commonwealth be more equitably distributed: through land reform, land-value taxes, or by reclaiming land as a commons? And how could understanding our planet’s atmosphere and oceans as global commons far better distribute the global returns to their sustainable use?

Money creation: why endow commercial banks with the right to create money as interest-based debt, and leave them to reap the rents that flow from it? Money could alternatively be created by the state, or indeed by communities as complementary currencies: it’s time to create a monetary ecosystem that can fulfill this distributive potential.

Enterprise: what business design models – such as cooperatives and employee-owed companies – can best ensure that committed workers, not fickle shareholders, reap a far greater share of the value that they help to generate?

Knowledge: how can the potential of the creative commons be unleashed internationally, through free open-source hardware and software, and the rise of creative commons licensing?

Technology: who will own the robots, and why should it be that way? Given that much basic research underlying automation and digitization has been publicly funded, should a share of the rewards not return to the public purse?

By taking on such questions of distributive design, we’ll give ourselves a far greater chance of tackling inequality and of thriving in the Doughnut’s safe and just space this century. And that is nothing less than our generational challenge.

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Sunday, April 5, 2020

What is a circular economy?

Looking beyond the current take-make-waste extractive industrial model, a circular economy aims to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits. It entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources, and designing waste out of the system. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital. It is based on three principles:

Design out waste and pollution
Keep products and materials in use
Regenerate natural systems

Re-thinking Progress: The Circular Economy
There's a world of opportunity to rethink and redesign the way we make stuff. 'Re-Thinking Progress' explores how through a change in perspective we can re-design the way our economy works - designing products that can be 'made to be made again' and powering the system with renewable energy. It questions whether with creativity and innovation we can build a restorative economy.

The concept of a circular economy
In a circular economy, economic activity builds and rebuilds overall system health. The concept recognises the importance of the economy needing to work effectively at all scales – for large and small businesses, for organisations and individuals, globally and locally.

Transitioning to a circular economy does not only amount to adjustments aimed at reducing the negative impacts of the linear economy. Rather, it represents a systemic shift that builds long-term resilience, generates business and economic opportunities, and provides environmental and societal benefits.

Technical and biological cycles

The model distinguishes between technical and biological cycles. Consumption happens only in biological cycles, where food and biologically-based materials (such as cotton or wood) are designed to feed back into the system through processes like composting and anaerobic digestion. These cycles regenerate living systems, such as soil, which provide renewable resources for the economy. Technical cycles recover and restore products, components, and materials through strategies like reuse, repair, remanufacture or (in the last resort) recycling.

Origins of the circular economy concept

The notion of circularity has deep historical and philosophical origins. The idea of feedback, of cycles in real-world systems, is ancient and has echoes in various schools of philosophy. It enjoyed a revival in industrialised countries after World War II when the advent of computer-based studies of non-linear systems unambiguously revealed the complex, interrelated, and therefore unpredictable nature of the world we live in – more akin to a metabolism than a machine. With current advances, digital technology has the power to support the transition to a circular economy by radically increasing virtualisation, de-materialisation, transparency, and feedback-driven intelligence.

Circular economy schools of thought

The circular economy model synthesises several major schools of thought. They include the functional service economy (performance economy) of Walter Stahel; the Cradle to Cradle design philosophy of William McDonough and Michael Braungart; biomimicry as articulated by Janine Benyus; the industrial ecology of Reid Lifset and Thomas Graedel; natural capitalism by Amory and Hunter Lovins and Paul Hawken; and the blue economy systems approach described by Gunter Pauli.

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Friday, April 3, 2020

Peluang Di Circular Economy

Dua abad terakhir perekonomian dunia tumbuh sangat pesat, namun juga diiringi oleh pengurasan sumber daya alam dengan laju yang kurang lebih sama. Dampaknya dunia bukan hanya akan kehabisan resources untuk generasi mendatang, yang seharusnya renewable seperti udara dan air-pun ikut rusak. Linear economy yang mendominasi dunia saat ini harus segera diakhiri karena membahayakan sustainability dunia itu sendiri, lantas apa penggantinya ?

Linear economy adalah ekonomi yang mengambil sumber daya alam baik tambang maupun hasil tanaman, kemudian diolah menjadi produk, dikonsumsi/digunakan kemudian sebagiannya menjadi sampah dan pemborosan. Secara ringkas, segala proses ‘take-make-consume or use and dispose’ adalah linear economy.

Proses satu arah inilah yang harus segera diakhiri, dan sudah sejak beberapa dasawarsa terakhir sejumlah inisiatif di berbagai bidang orang ingin mengganti yang linear tersebut dengan konsep yang berputar. Maka dari linear economy, muncullah penggantinya yang lebih baik yang disebut circular economy.

Dalam circular economy, sumber daya alam baik yang dari tambang maupun yang dari tanaman digunakan berulang-ulang sehingga dapat menghindari timbulnya sampah ataupun pemborosan – yang keduanya dalam bahasa Inggris disebut ‘waste’. Ketika kita makan dan membuang sisanya – dia disebut waste, demikian pula kita punya mobil tetapi 90% waktunya nganggur di garasi juga disebut waste.

Jadi dalam circular economy, tidak ada lagi waste dalam bentuk apapun. Wasted resources berupa material dan energy, wasted lifecyclewasted capabilitywasted value dan berbagai bentuk waste lainnya ditiadakan atau setidaknya diminimize. Setiap bentuk ‘waste’ harus bisa diubah menjadi ‘food’ atau makanan/input bagi proses produksi berikutnya.

Bagaimana caranya untuk mengeliminisai atau setidaknya meminimize waste ini ?, ilustrasi dibawah adalah beberapa cara yang sudah dan sedang kami rintis di lingkungan kami – sehingga bukan lagi wacana, tetapi sesuatu yang harus kita mulai dan tentu saja sambil terus disempurnakan.

Circular Economy

Cara yang pertama adalah re-use atau penggunaan berulang dari sumberdaya yang sama. Ini sudah beberapa tahun kita coba di salah satu kebun yang kami kelola, yaitu kebun cengkeh. Daun-daun cengkeh kering yang berguguran sepanjang malam, dia bisa dimanfaatkan untuk tiga proses sekaligus.

Proses pertama dia disuling, hasilnya berupa minyak daun cengkeh (Clove Leaf Oil – CLO) yang sekitar ¾ bagiannya adalah Eugenol – bahan dasar untuk sejumlah besar bio-based industrial chemical.

Proses kedua, setelah disuling – daun-daun tersebut sedikit dikeringkan untuk kemudian menjadi bahan bakar bagi penyulingan berikutnya. Jadi unit penyulingan daun cengkeh kami tidak perlu membeli bahan bakar. Proses ketiga adalah ketika pembakaran tersebut menyisakan abu, maka abu ini dikembalikan ke lahan cengkeh untuk menjadi pupuk atau sumber mineral baru.

Cara yang kedua adalah dengan share atau berbagi manfaat. Kalau ini yang paling mudah dipahami adalah apa yang dilakukan Go-Jek, Uber dlsb. Orang tidak lagi perlu membeli motor dan mobil karena dia bisa kemanapun dengan mudah dan murah kini.

Hal yang sama dapat kita lakukan di dunia pertanian. Traktor, mesin tanam, mesin panen dlsb. adalah barang mahal yang sangat sedikit petani yang mampu membelinya. Yang mampu membelinya-pun kebanyakan waktunya idle karena tidak mencapai skala ekonomisnya.

Maka dengan sharing economy di dunia pertanian, harusnya pertanian kita bisa menjadi sangat maju karena akan selalu ada resources yang bisa dishare penggunaannya. Tinggal masalah waktu saja untuk lahirnya startup-startup yang dapat menangkap peluang ini – dan bila Anda yang menggarapnya, insyaAllah bisa bermitra dengan iGrow yang telah merintisnya di sisi yang lain.

Cara yang ketiga adalah  produk-produk yang semula dijual, digunakan kemudian ketika  habis pakai menjadi sampah – diubah menjadi Product as A Services (PaAS). Ini yang kemudian disebut Output Economy, orang bukan butuh memiliki mobil – tetapi dia butuh mobilitas.

Di dunia pertanian ini yang sedang kami rintis dengan teknologi Growy- Agriculture Dashboard. Teknologi IoT yang kami kembangkan lengkap dengan system cloud server-nya untuk memonitor parameter-parameter ladang pertanian dari suhu, kelembaban, cahaya, kadar air tanah sampau nutrisi total – terlalu njlimet apabila dijual sebagai produk kepada para petani kita yang rata-rata sangat kecil dan wawasan teknologynya lemah.

Tetapi bukannya mereka tidak butuh, yang mereka butuhnan hanya saja bukan teknologinya – yang dibutuhkan adalah manfaatnya untuk bisa bertani dengan optimal mengikuti karakteristik dari lahan pertaniannya. Maka mereka tidak perlu nantinya membeli teknologi ini, mereka cukup menikmati layanan informasinya saja – sehingga bisa berbayar dengan murah atau bahkan bisa juga gratis tergantung dari bisnis model yang nantinya berkembang dan beradaptasi.

Setelah dengan tiga cara – ‘re-use’, ‘share’ dan ‘PaAS’  tersebut di atas masih juga muncul waste , maka waste ini-pun harus diolah. Yang dia berupa organic material dia di-decomposed menjadi organic nutrient yang kembali ke lahan, sedangkan yang berupa non-organic material dia bisa di recycle menjadi technical nutrient sebagai bahan baku untuk membuat mesin dan alat-alat berikutnya.

Bila dunia baru mengenal circular economy dalam beberapa dasawarsa terakhir, umat Islam harusnya bisa menjadi contoh karena dasar ekonomi kita memang harus berputar. Dasar ekonomi kita ada di surat Al-Hasyr ayat 7 : “…Agar harta itu tidak hanya berputar di golongan yang kaya diantara kamu…”.

Harta sudah berputar tetapi putarannya masih hanya di golongan yang kaya saja – itu tidak boleh, apalagi bila harta itu tidak berputar – dia menjadi waste, tidak berguna bagi yang memilikinya apalagi orang lain.

Bahkan ada kabar dariNya juga tentang dengan siapa kita bersaudara bila masih melakukan pemborosan : “ Sesungguhnya pemboros-pemboros itu adalah saudara-saudara syaitan dan syaiton itu sangat ingkar kepada Tuhannya” (QS Al-Israa 27).

Poin yang terakhir ini bisa digunakan para orang tua untuk menyiapkan anak-anak yang ready untuk memasuki era circular economy. Salah satu cara kami melihat apakah murid-murid sekolah kami di Kuttab Al-Fatih sudah mulai menyerap apa yang diajarkan ustad-ustadnya adalah dengan melihat piringnya ketika mereka selesai makan.

Bila piring itu begitu bersih – nyaris seperti piring yang belum dipakai makan – maka si murid telah mulai paham tentang apa yang dipelajarinya. Dan ini juga bisa dilakukan untuk kita semua, bersihkah piring kita ketika selesai makan ? Bila piring kita bersih, insyaAllah kita ready untuk bersaing di era circular economy – dan menjauhkan syaitan dari keluarga kita. InsyaAllah.

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