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Roland Van Der Meer

Waste is the Next Oil

In nature, we rarely – if ever – see anything wasted.  Every living thing eventually dies, and is repurposed to another living system.  This is exactly how it should be.  Indigenous people knew this, naturally recycling everything back into the biological systems of life.   

It is astounding to me that we overlook this issue all around the world.  We deal with our waste as a useless byproduct of life that requires external disposal.  This article in the Washington Post is an incredible exploration of how we treat waste today.  However, it can be argued that waste is a resource, and in fact our future.  I will further assert that waste is the next frontier for investors. 

As we have developed as a race, we forgot this critical law of nature.  Now is the time to reclaim it!  One place to start is with books like “Cradle to Cradle”, in which Bill McDonough says change starts with design: Design for repurposing everything. That will emulate nature making our society integral with the living systems all around us. 

We’re not there yet, but we are slowly moving, and in some cases accelerating, toward this direction.  We can expect that in 50 years everything will be recycled.  It will have to be.  We have depleted most of our natural reserves.  Costs to extract will rise, and costs to recycle will fall.  Once they pass equilibrium, the recycling accelerates.  Not necessarily for the sake of cleaning things up, but for profit – and that is how the world economy works.  Profit from waste will drive the results of the environmental goals we seek! 

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