During the week in our Green Supply Chain Management class, we got the lovely opportunity to hear from the Office of Sustainability and the US Embassy. Both talks were fascinating and allowed me to learn more about some of the topics we’ve been studying in different ways.
The first person was a woman from the college we’ve been affiliated with, ACG and she talked a lot about sustainability and more specifically, what the college is doing to be more sustainable. She talked about the importance of reusable products and was even kind enough to give everyone their own set of reusable silverware and straws. It was interesting to hear what their school does in Greece and compare it to the sustainability practices I’ve seen around campus in Charleston.
The second talk that we got to hear was from the US Embassy. I hadn’t heard much about what they do specifically and the different jobs you can hold within it. I really enjoyed hearing about all the different things they do there from helping out with lost passports, proofing certain logos for different countries, and consulting with government officials regarding cultural issues. The speakers were very engaging and made sure to keep all of us very interested which they definitely succeeded at. One of the women talked about her experience within the embassy and how much she has to move. She remains in one country for about four years and then has the opportunity to explore another one. The Embassy helps a lot by covering children’s schooling, family housing, and many other expenses. It sounded like a great way to travel while doing meaningful work, they are able to fully immerse themselves in another culture while bridging an important gap between the relations of that country and the United States. After studying abroad in a country I had never been to and learning about the culture for three weeks it is definitely an alluring idea to have the option to travel for work. I had no idea all the work that the Embassy does and what the roles of the Embassy officials entail and it was so great to hear all about it from the speakers. Both the US Embassy and the ACG Office of Sustainability speakers gave very insightful talks and allowed me to learn more about their specific fields, it also helped me to gain more perspective on the classes and concepts taken during the trip.
This reading made me think of Industrial Symbiosis as a relationship between two or more firms that exchange their waste, as feedstock for the production process. The definition of Industrial Symbiosis is that his process “resues, recycles, and reprocesses by products and intermediates within the system of organizations whereas conventional supply chains reduce waste within manufacturing processes and reuse end of life products.” Industrial symbiosis could be considered cradle to cradle. Cradle to cradle is almost a reference to “one man’s waste is another man’s treasure,” there is always a way to give a material a new life. Waste including materials, energy and water. Elements of industrial waste typically practice recycling and reuse and “end of life cycle” products. Companies play a big role in the industrial ecosystem. The industrial ecosystem is broken down into two categories, those include Eco-Industrial Parks and Eco-Industrial Networks.
Firms have power over how much waste is produced throughout the supply chain, waste is constantly produced. Firms can control their pollution through end of pipe remediation and environmental management systems. Systems like IOS 14001 – I remember learning about these systems or codes in Dr. Mueller’s lectures. Industrial Symbiosis is these firms and supply chains working together to communicate ways to produce less waste.
Thinking about these concepts in terms of Greece, I think that Greece does little things to contribute to a greener future but not nearly enough. The few efforts you will see is solar panels on houses, and businesses using paper straws. However, due to the quality of water in the cities almost every establishment as well as resident is drinking bottled water. As a manufacturer or distributers of these water companies they should be looking at what they can do to make their packaging more eco-friendly. If such large quantities of water bottles are being thrown out each day, manufacturers should be making more of an effort to use biodegradable or sustainable materials. The same could be said about water companies in the United States. This is just one of the many examples of how supply chains could alter just one step to make a big dent on pollution created. Another idea that crosses my mind when it comes to Industrial Symbiosis and the relationship between supply chains is that in Greece most cars are outdated. Older cars tend to produce more emissions. When manufacturers, wholesalers, etc. look to send out their products if they used eco-efficient vehicles it would cut down on pollution caused by transport. It is hard to say if these are the true changes needed to be made in Greece reflecting Industrial Symbiosis, however that is what I noticed when visiting.
The concept of an economy that not only reduces, but entirely minimizes waste is presented in the article discussing the concept, circular economy. The idea of a circular economy is now acknowledged globally and is our most promising solution to our planet’s sustainability issues.
The idea of a circular economy first came from a linear economy. The linear economy was a great idea, but it had much room for improvement. The linear economy’s main goal was to minimize waste, where they did accomplish that, but they were missing the part where materials get recycled back into the process. there was a clear beginning and a clear ending, so much was being wasted. There needed to be another solution to a sustainable lifestyle that reduced waste and even reused it. This is where the idea of a circular economy was born.
The idea of a circular economy is a bigger idea than just simply reduce- reuse- recycle. A circular economy works differently. It closes the loop and moves away from the idea “take- make- consume- throw away.” Waste is reduced to a minimum with this idea because everything produced is transferred and used somewhere else continuously. Different than a linear economy, waste in a circular economy is almost diminished entirely, not just reduced.
“Recycling alone will not save us,” – Andrew Morlet
A circular economy works in three steps: 1. It designs out waste. 2. It keeps products and materials in use. 3. It regenerates living systems.
A circular economy was not created by one person, but my groups and many people over the years and being redefined each time to make for the most beneficial process. Some people and/ or groups that have helped define a circular economy are the following: Walter Stahel and Genevieve Reday – “The Potential for Sustaining Manpower for Energy”, Janing Benyus – “Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature”, Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins – “Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, Kenneth Boulding – “The Economics of Coming Spaceship Earth”, Gunter Paul – “The Blue Economy”. These groups of people worked together to define what a circular economy is known to be today. Each person and/ or group was changed or effected this idea to make it the most sustainable as possible.
“Nothing is lost, everything is transformed,” This is the motto of a circular economy. It explains how circular economy is not aimed to end growth, rather to bend industry back into harmony with nature so we can continue to prosper.