- A new U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center report, "Trash to Treasure: Changing Waste Streams to Profit Streams," examines waste’s impact on the private sector, as well as how businesses can capitalize on the circular economy. The report’s authors looked at data and analysis regarding the volume, types, and flows of waste that companies generate as well as strategies to capture value from trash. It also highlights what specific businesses are doing to pump their profit and efficiency by embracing a circular economy.
- Some key report findings are:
- 342 million metric tons of waste that were generated by 5,589 of the largest publicly traded companies was landfilled or incinerated in 2014.
- Companies produce about 7.81 metric tons of waste for every million dollars of their revenue.
- The 5,589 companies in the study could save almost $1 billion by cutting paper waste by 1%, with paper constituting 37% of their waste.
- Many companies are increasing their profits by reducing waste, educating staff, and encouraging consumers to recover, reuse, or recycle.
- A major takeaway from the report was that businesses can achieve sustainable results by incorporating more closed-loop manufacturing methods to limit waste, or by completely revamping their protocol and shifting to a circular economy in which they completely eliminate their waste streams.
A circular economy model is the most far reaching and comprehensive approach to achieve zero waste, especially among businesses whose continual influx of products and services can be refurbished for reuse. Such a model can especially have impact in the case of industries like plastics and battery manufacturing that not only produce waste, but often is hazardous waste.
Meanwhile, about $4.5 trillion in economic growth could be realized by 2030 if companies and consumers switched to a circular economy, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation as reported in Environmental Leader.
One organization that realizes the potential of a greener more efficient way of doing business launched The Closed Loop Fund, which will be leveraged to invest $100M in U.S. recycling infrastructure by 2020.
"The circular economy offers a wealth of opportunity for the American business community," said Jennifer Gerholdt, director of environmental initiatives for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center in a statement. "As companies confront the realities of today’s economic environment, it’s easy to overlook the value and the potential for growth that lies in ordinary, everyday waste. Our 'Trash to Treasure' research illustrates the business case for the circular economy, encouraging all enterprises to follow the lead of several businesses already putting this regenerative, restorative way of thinking to work."