The US Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center has issued a new report detailing the value businesses can find in viewing waste as a resource and engaging in the circular economy.
The report, titled Trash to Treasure: Changing Waste Streams to Profit Streams, examines the weight and impact of waste on American business. It features business case studies that illustrate the power of the circular economy to increase efficiency and profitability. Businesses that understand, measure, and manage their waste and take action to eliminate, reduce, or reuse that waste can open up new revenue streams, increase efficiency, and unleash innovation, the report concludes.
Trucost, experts in the environmental data and natural capital valuation, contributed data and analysis on the amounts, types, and flows of the waste produced by companies. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation contributed insights with broader strategies about how to capture that value and thematic support.
Waste production is a serious problem for all American companies and industries. The largest 5,589 publically traded businesses in the United States sent 342 million metric tons of waste to landfills and incinerators in 2014. That is equivalent to sending almost three Empire State Buildings to the landfill every day.
Removing unwanted resources to landfills or incinerators is a costly proposition in the price of removal, in the value of the resources being destroyed, and in the social impacts of more waste. By not accurately estimating, measuring, and managing their waste streams, American companies of all sizes and types are throwing away significant opportunities for profit and increased efficiency.
By understanding the size and value of that waste, and how to monetize it, companies can reduce waste going to landfills. Long-term solutions include incorporating more sustainable closed-loop manufacturing processes to limit waste or rethinking the system entirely, shifting to a circular economy in which waste is designed out entirely.
Many have suggested “waste is a resource in the wrong place.” Trash to Treasure quantifies that statement and offers actionable ways to put waste in the right place.
James Richens, +44 (0)20 7160 9804, firstname.lastname@example.org