Within its Inclusive Business strategy, our partner Stefan Koch from Covestro wanted to show the value of linking the business of material science to low-income markets. Together we explored an idea to link the global plastic waste challenge with the technology of 3D printing in a way that develops a sustainable local plastic recycling economy and which ultimately involves and benefits the informal waste sector.
We spent the next six months exploring this opportunity in Thailand and found that producing 3D filament from collected plastic is indeed technically feasible. And we set up the required value chain to market high-value 3D filament. We at Endeva are now supporting to prove the concept of a sustainable business case and show its value in cooperation with a local startup.
Global: A multi-trillion business opportunity
Including those who remain excluded from opportunity is the single biggest business opportunity around. The Business Commission on Sustainable Development found opportunities worth $12US trillion in only four sectors (food and agriculture, energy and materials, cities, health, and wellbeing). The World Bank estimates that globally, the amount of solid waste is going to grow from 2 billion tons today to 3,4 billion in 2050, with most of the growth coming from emerging economies. Managing this pile of junk is a massive opportunity for those who manage to reclaim valuable material and drive circularity. Inclusive business enables companies to detect value creation potential in line with societal goals.
Organizational: Proven, scalable models
Unlocking these opportunities requires new business models. Fortunately, we at Endeva have a decade of experience innovating for inclusive business. Proven, scalable models exist in a wide range of sectors, from food to health to energy. Integrating informal waste pickers into a formal business may seem impossible at first. Using proven setups, such as cooperatives or social enterprises, can enable inclusion and transformation at scale in the long run.
Personal: An agile mindset
It can be hard to become “agile” in established business: we trust what has worked, even though it may not work in the future. When you start to do business involving waste pickers in the value chain, being agile is the only way. We had no conception of their reality, their business, their preferences, and needs. We had to listen and discuss solutions with them. Inclusive business also demands collaboration beyond the traditional transactional relationship. To train and organize waste pickers, we would need to work with NGOs. By venturing into low-income markets, companies can build critical skills and attitudes like flexibility, entrepreneurship, and resilience among their staff in ways they find truly inspiring and meaningful
Our ambition is to find ways to create change at the systems level – transformative change: Moving from the individual waste picker project to rethinking the waste management system. Sounds big? Of course, we can only achieve it with you! With a decade of experience, we have created ii2030.com as a platform for systems change. Based on a concrete tech-based opportunity, we bring the right actors together that are eager to prototype a new system. Waste-to-3D-filament will be one of the tracks in 2019. We invite you to join us and make the most of the transformation, for you, your company, and the world!