Clean Production and a Lean Wasteline

It is more than two decades since we started re-imagining global and local production. By the early 1990’s, it was abundantly clear that we should not, nor could not, attempt to create a sustainable society by simply treating and collecting waste.

There are many inspiring examples of change since the 90’s. From Natural Capitalism, which shows how we should produce our goods and services, to Factor 4. The most recent demonstrates an 80% reduction of environmental impact per unit of economic output is achievable and available to us today – it’s here: Factor 5. Factor 5 covers everything from our homes and cities through to steel and cement, agriculture and transport.

But our overall society now has an even greater impact, by any of the common metrics, on the environment than it did in the 90’s. If resource use and waste avoidance makes such economic sense, as the examples demonstrate, we’re entitled to ask what’s gone wrong. Why are we 20 years down the track with so many easy wins still waiting to be implemented? And what can we learn from some of the standout examples of change?

This is the first in a series of short blog posts. We’ve set the scene, so what are some of the barriers – beyond technology – in society, mindsets and worldviews. Next blog is on valuing the future over the present.

One thought on “Clean Production and a Lean Wasteline

  1. There's also a good speech covering rebound – spending saved money on carbon intensive practices and other economic impacts here.

    Ex liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull calls for carbon trading or tax as an essential policy element.

    As Nick Stern highlights there are three essential elements to address carbon emissions. A price on carbon; incentives for clean technology – e.g. the bill in part and the opposition’s support for it; and, often left out – behaviour change.

    The last is important – information is necessary but not sufficient for change. There’s a great deal of available assistance for energy efficiency and it’s hard to explain the slow uptake of such profitable change from just a lack of information.

    An obvious example is the compact fluorescent light bulb. Available in supermarkets for years with a lot of information about money saved from its use. But, for many years, not used at anything like the rate you’d expect.

    So more information and incentives – yes! And sophisticated policy is welcome as well.

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