Resources, Materials and Sustainability

Lecture Week 1 given by Candace Landsman (CEO, Circular Economy, Australia)

Circular Economy

Ultra recycling, ultra reuse. The concept of curcular economy vs a linear economy differs at the “end” of a product, whereby it is reused in some form, rather than discarded so its lifetime is longer and more efficient.

Current economic model: take (resources); make (products); dispose. This in an unsustainable way of life, particularly with science and technology moving as fast as it does, where objects such as mobile phones are being replaced yearly, when the software is old rather than when the hardware is old creating mass waste that takes longer to break down than it does to replace.

Therefore, where is the opportunity? We believe it lies in resources.

The link between resource scarcity and consumering: just look at the false numbers currently surrounding the milk industry in Australia! Milk is $2 for 2L which in undeniably unsustainable.

We then look at accountability, or lack thereof, in this “quick economy” style. The level of toxicity in products in able to happen becuase people believe they don’t have to be accountable for a product than can cause problems 50 years into the future. Don’t believe me? Check out this case.

Now we look at scacity vs abundance. Resources should be continually resused, we should be able to produce so much energy in so many different “green” ways that we can just hand it out. Every waste product from one activity should be an input for another system. Therefore, how do we go beyond sustainable? How  do we create an abundance? We look to design.

Our goal is a delightfully diverse, safe, healthy and just world — with clean air, water, soil and power — economically, equitably, ecologically and elegantly enjoyed.”

William McDonough “Cradle to Cradle” (I recommend that you check out some of his buildings too!)

Cicular Economy in Motion

Use of the biological cycle and technical cycle:


Aim of the game: keep loops as closed as possible.

Business Models

Uber and AirB&B – collaborative consumption; its not necisarily about owning anymore, but about access and having the best experience possible. e.g. Peer to peer sharing of assets for experience

Product as a service – e.g. whitegoods. You don’t want a fridge or a washing machine, you just want cold food and clean clothes. Therefore you can “loan” items, and pay per use. This can result in companies wanting to produce goods or products that last longer and are better quality so they can last longer and reach more customers. This reduces waste, as the consumer would no longer buy new whitegoods everytime it breaks, but there would be more emphasis on maintenance and refurbishment. e.g. Desso

Product Transformation – Producing products that can be dissasembled and reassembled to create new products. e.g. Herman Miller

Product 2.0 – What about products that have to reduce waste? e.g. coffe grounds. Why not use these grounds to grow mushrooms, to use as packaging. This is a great example of a closed loop system. Advantages: non toxic, completely biodegrdable, cheaper, more sustainable. Ikea is also starting to produce goods that are wrapped in mushroom, rather than styrofoam etc.

Clean Technologies – The fasted powered solar car across 5,000km on a single charge is the SolarSwift, which is a solar powered car produced by UNSW and is named “Eve”.

Black Mirror

Important factors when considering circular economics is to use these tools:

  • Technology
  • Resources
  • Collaboration

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

-Buckminster Fuller

The world is changing. Take advantage for the better and solve a uniqe problem.

“Building diversity through resilience”


Further References


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