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July 23rd, 2013

While there is no literal “continent-sized garbage dump” of discarded plastic bags floating in the middle of the ocean, no thinking person would say there are no waste issues in the All this junk could have been valuablemodern world. The Ocean Recovery Alliance is one of many groups working to influence both business and government to practice better stewardship of the world’s oceans, which some call the “new global dumpsites.”

And get this: Even waste is being wasted! There is vast untapped value in the ocean waste, and the rest of it, too. And it’s not just plastics anymore. The sheer number (billions) of technological devices—from computers and smartphones to LCD TVs and more—makes a coordinated global waste management strategy quite challenging. And as 3D printing proliferates, every semi-tech-head becomes a manufacturer, with waste product(s) to consider.

The Ocean Recovery Alliance’s Plasticity Forum brings together representatives of manufacturers, tech firms, “green brand” leaders, think tanks, and government agencies to focus on “solution-driven thinking about plastic waste.”

On a roll

The inaugural Plasticity Forum took place in 2012 at the Rio+20 Earth Summit, where a range of innovative, sustainable plastics strategies (and alternative ingredients) were considered. The Forum organizers included activists, interest groups, leadership training group Applied Brilliance, and the Australian organization Republic of Everyone. With over 130 industry representatives, government leaders, innovators, and educators from over 15 nations, the first Forum was a success. Discussions continued this year in Hong Kong on every step in plastic’s life-cycle, affecting everything from car interiors to our Mac Pro rental: formulas and materials, designs and packaging, research and innovation, and—at the end of a particular device’s life-cycle—waste capture and re-use for a “cradle to cradle” approach.

Plasticity Forum

After last year’s inaugural event, the founder of MBA Polymers, Mike Biddle, spoke of the “many sustainable ways” there were to use and re-use plastics. He lamented the prevalence of today’s “one-way use” and described how his firm’s advanced “sorting technologies” can recover nearly any type of plastic and recycle it back into “a pure feedstock stream.” All the old iMac cases and PC towers have a treasure trove of recyclables beyond plastic, too (an upcoming blog will discuss recapturing all the value from high-tech discards). Companies that can reclaim value from the detritus of our tech-happy culture, like this new one in Canada, are likely to receive both high revenue and the appreciation of thoughtful consumers.

The way forward

Event organizer and co-founder of the Ocean Recovery Alliance, Doug Woodring, sums it up well: “The brands that will win are the ones that admit the communities they serve have a problem with plastic waste; that take the lead in making improvements; and are part of that solution.” Harnessing plastic waste streams has already led to substantial savings for some firms, and the message is spreading that good environmental policy can be good for business, too. In the 1980s, with books like Winning Through Intimidation topping the business best-seller lists, companies were advised to “be lean and mean.” Now that we’ve grown up enough at least to considesavr the waste problems we face, the replacement for that unfortunate advice is simple and profound: Be lean and green.

CRE, always your smart source for high-tech rentals, decided long ago to “go green,” so count on us to steer you to solutions that are “high” in terms of tech and power, but “low” on energy consumption. Whether you need to find trade show convention rentals for that upcoming conference or laptops for your field sales reps, you will get first-rate advice from an experienced CRE Account Executive. Call (877) 266-7725, send a message, or visit the Quick Rental Quote page.

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