The Green Corridor: To Realise the Circular Economy Dream – Reach Out to Your Community

The Green Corridor: To Realise the Circular Economy Dream – Reach Out to Your Community

by Timothy Foote, Founder of Susymbio

Buy, use, and toss. That is the experience a consumer has when they are well … consuming! When we dispose of something though, is that really the end?

In the case of fruit and vegetable peelings for instance, I actually use them as material for composting, for my garden. This is a case where I can say I am creating a “circular” experience. I bought some apples, which require nutrients in soil to grow. After enjoying my apple, which gives me energy to keep my personal engine running, I am left with the peels.
Instead of throwing them away, I use the peels to make compost, which when added to the ground, can enrich the soil with nutrients that in turn nourish new plants to grow. The process goes on and on and hence it’s circular!

So what if I live in a place with no garden or soil to enrich? What do I do with my apple peelings then? This is the challenge that industries face all around the world. Ideally one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, but that takes coordination of people in different industries.

In one example, Crust Group in Singapore provides a Southeast Asian example of a cross industry “circular economy” partnership. Everyday there is stale bread thrown out by bakeries all over Singapore. But even stale bread contains the basic building blocks needed to make beer: wheat, water and yeast. Travin Singh (creator behind Crust Brewing) realised that if he could find bakery partners, he basically had access to a cheap local source of beer making raw materials. Where usually all beer manufactured in Singapore is made using imported raw materials, this model of brewing would completely eliminate that need for beer making imports. The benefits to society are several. Local food wastage is reduced, importing raw materials for beer from overseas is eliminated and emissions all around are done away with.

The circular economic model is a green one. It provides for a sustainable future because the raw materials are not taken from finite natural resources. It is instead a byproduct of other industrial activity. The circular economy is a cost saver and generally has less carbon emissions, because raw materials are sourced locally and therefore with less transportation. In my compost example, I save on buying fertilizer (along with all the processing, packaging and transportation associated with it). In the example of Crust Group, they do not have to buy raw materials from overseas.

So how does one get connected with different industries and get some new perspectives and possibly sustainable raw materials locally?

Say Hello to Your Neighbor

Linking manufacturers and other industries together into a circular economy ecosystem is still a struggle in this digitally connected time. Community organisations can help though.

Metropolitan areas still provide a perfect setting for building connections. If you google “circular economy examples” then you will quickly see case studies centered on cities like Amsterdam, Berlin, Toronto, Glasgow. The metropolitan area does not need to be large either. For many reasons small communities are even better than large cities for building diverse industry connections.

Engaging with the LogiSYM community affords one way to get connected. Traditional community organisations like the Lions’ club or even religious communities and social clubs provides opportunities to build links as well.

Is there room for technology to improve networking capabilities? Sure there is. Crowd sourced transportation platforms currently connect many real time transportation networks into ecosystems which reduces down time and increases overall vehicle utilisation. So the potential to combine the services of scrap waste management and raw material procurement could be something that marketplace designers can work on.

That said, the human touch is still very much needed and vital for making the goals of the circular economy come true. So don’t be shy. Enrich your life with new connections to people.

About the Author:

Tim Foote runs Susymbio, a boutique consulting firm. He advises clients on green logistical solutions and provides sustainability program management services. Tim has worked in management positions at multiple MNCs for more than 25 years, gaining expansive expertise in logistical operations. Tim has crafted delivery solutions for many e-commerce and freight forwarding clients. He has also managed the supply chains for both bulk and consumer chemical companies.

As DHL eCommerce’s first Asia Pacific Head of Go Green, he put in place various programs, including carbon footprint management, sustainability training and illegal wildlife smuggling monitoring.

Tim volunteers his free time with the Singapore Wildcat Action Group, a not-for-profit organisation that raises awareness and funds for wildlife conservation.