Mindhive Activity

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Jacob Hampson is now contributing to a Challenge Brisbane Innovate: social isolation

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Robert Hale is now contributing to a Challenge Australian Soft Power

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Sarah Davies is now contributing to a Challenge Private

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Jacob Hampson is now contributing to a Challenge Private

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Ben Sullivan is now contributing to a Challenge Private

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Jacob Hampson is now contributing to a Challenge Private

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Sarah Davies is now contributing to a Challenge Brisbane Innovate: Waste Economy

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Julie Petersen is now contributing to a Challenge Private

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Tim Keenan is now contributing to a Challenge Private

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Miranda Buck is now contributing to a Challenge Private

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A new Solution was published Private

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Hannah Churton is now contributing to a Challenge Brisbane Innovate: Waste Economy

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Rob Silva commented on the Challenge Brisbane Innovate: Waste Economy

Perhaps Jenny Cottle, the first step is to just not use straws unless there really is no alternative. Once upon a time, there was a huge problem with ring-pulls from drink cans being discarded everywhere. Today we still have the equivalent opening mechanism for cans but it is integral to the can.

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Rob Silva commented on the Challenge Brisbane Innovate: Waste Economy

Perhaps Jenny Cottle, the first step is to just not use straws unless there really is no alternative (eg for a person with a disability or in a hospital environment). Once upon a time, there was a huge problem with ring-pulls from drink cans being discarded everywhere. Today we still have the equivalent opening mechanism for cans but it is integral to the can.

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Cat Matson commented on the Solution To collect organic waste en masse and process entirely within the city limits

I agree with you Michael - pilot a few programs in already engaged communities.

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Cat Matson is now contributing to a Challenge Brisbane Innovate: Waste Economy

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Cat Matson commented on the Challenge Brisbane Innovate: Waste Economy

Jenny Cottle , you raise an excellent point. What are the 'seeds' that we need to plant or strike to enable the start of a new industry / new supply chain?

I would be very interested to hear, from anyone who knows, what are the capability and resource requirements to create alternatives to non-sustainable materials?

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Dale Cook is now contributing to a Challenge Private

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Rob Silva commented on the Challenge Brisbane Innovate: Waste Economy

I think @david-kearns is on the right track here. A perverse outcome of creating a successful waste economy is that, in and of itself, it does nothing to discourage the production of waste. Indeed it has the potential to encourage it.

Already we see in supermarkets the prevalence of over-packaged products but people are generally sanguine about this as long as they perceive the packaging to be recyclable. Most are not aware that, frequently, recycling is extremely inefficient, both from an energy and economic perspective and it has value only in terms of resource recovery (eg recycling paper is better than felling more trees but that's about it).

It is important to analyse each item or class of items to determine what the appropriate approach is.

To take one example - its now common in supermarkets to see 'food service' type items (eg single-serve pre-prepared salad leaf mix). These are very convenient for single-person households and may contribute to a reduction in food wastage. But they come at the price of being packaged in a plastic bag, are often refrigerated and of course are transported along with huge volumes of air (ie inefficiently). So what is better, wasting food, or wasting other resources?

To take another example, the banning of single-use plastic bags. Bjorn Lomberg's consensus centre, if I recall correctly, demonstrated that if one looks at the bigger environmental picture, this is an unequivocally bad 'solution', although at an intuitive level it has a certain appeal.

It is the case in any complex system that you cannot optimise the whole by optimising the parts - one must always take a systemic view. To create a waste economy is to accept the waste as unavoidable - "since we've got it, we should make the most of it". Instead of seeing recycling as an economic opportunity, it should instead be seen as a measure of our failure to reduce and reuse. 

This is not to say that there is no place for recycling but it should be our enduring objective to put recyclers of our own waste out of business, not to build economies around them. Yes we are producing waste now, and we should recycle the waste we produce - but we should see this as a transitional path to a zero-waste future.

 

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Rob Silva commented on the Challenge Brisbane Innovate: Waste Economy

I think @david-kearns is on the right track here. A perverse outcome of creating a successful waste economy is that, in and of itself, it does nothing to discourage the production of waste. Indeed it has the potential to encourage it.

Already we see in supermarkets to prevalence of over-packaged products but people are generally sanguine about this as long as they perceive the packaging to be recyclable. Most are not aware that, frequently, recycling is extremely inefficient, both from an energy and economic perspective and it have value only in terms of resource recovery (eg recycling paper is better than felling more trees but that's about it).

It is important to analyse each item or class of items to determine what the appropriate approach is.

To take one example - its now common in supermarkets to see 'food service' type items (eg single-serve pre-prepared salad leaf mix). These are very convenient for single-person households and may contribute to a reduction in food wastage. But they come at the price of being packaged in a plastic bag, are often refrigerated and of course are transported along with huge volumes of air (ie inefficiently). So what is better, wasting food, or wasting other resources?

To take another example, the banning of single-use plastic bags. Bjorn Lomberg's consensus centre, if I recall correctly, demonstrated that if one looks at the bigger environmental picture, this is an unequivocally bad 'solution', although at an intuitive level it has a certain appeal.

It is the case in any complex system that you cannot optimise the whole by optimising the parts - one must always take a systemic view. To create a waste economy is to accept the waste as unavoidable - "since we've got it, we should make the most of it". Instead of seeing recycling as an economic opportunity, it should instead be seen as a measure of our failure to reduce and reuse. 

This is not to say that there is no place for recycling but it should be our enduring objective to put recyclers of our own waste out of business, not to build economies around them. Yes we are producing waste now, and we should recycle the waste we produce - but we should only ever see this as a transitional path to a zero-waste future.

 

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Michael Derwin commented on the Solution To collect organic waste en masse and process entirely within the city limits

I think we should pilot a few programs where people seem to care. That way we can contrast and compare results. We'll also need as many organisational psychologists involved in this as we will process engineers. 

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Michael Derwin commented on the Challenge Brisbane Innovate: Waste Economy

Given there are plenty of smart people out there to solve the technical challenges, I'll focus on the people side of the change. In particular, I'll draw on some of my experiences from a recent trip to Sweden.

1. Easy to use. I recently visited a transfer station in Uppsalla, and the most notable feature was ease of access. There are a number of these small depot stations around their cities and towns that make it super easy for people to drop off / dispose / recycyle. People even drop by on their bikes with a bike trailer attached with stuff to recycle. The site was no bigger then 2 basketball courts - very well though through and managed.

2. Education. Again, using Sweden as an example, it is part of their culture to recycle. They know what goes where and why.

3. On demand services. there are plenty of mobile services - for example, an apartment block has 1 big battery bin that everyone uses. They call on the pick up service only as required.

4. Scaled benefits / punishments. If behaviours are rewarded, change is not that hard. Equally, we also need to consider the 'true cost' of waste and pass that on if people don't do the right thing. 

5. Gamify use.Jason Blake makes a good point to gamify via a frequent flyer type model. In line with my point 4, nothing drives behaviour more then partial positive reinforcement.

I understand that Australia is big and not all things scale as in Sweden, but when I talk to people and tell them that about 50% of their weekly waste is organic, they are initially surprised but then quickly accept it as 'about right'. I think we just don't talk about it enough. Therefore, people aren't aware. A levy will sure get their attention but if people don't clearly understand what is in it for them (family, community, society, etc), then they wont change. * I hope the levy does not end up being used as a political platform.

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Michael Derwin is now contributing to a Challenge Brisbane Innovate: Waste Economy

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Jenny Cottle is now contributing to a Challenge Brisbane Innovate: Waste Economy

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Jenny Cottle commented on the Challenge Brisbane Innovate: Waste Economy

This may not exactly be the forum for this, but don't know how else to start. How do we connect people with the technology for starting small local businesses to make alternative plastic products from waste. Eg. saw a video recently that used coffee grounds, sugar and bamboo to make drinking straws. There could be some many opportunities to use waste and bi-products of agriculture to reduce plastic production and create employment in small communities.

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Jacob Hampson is now contributing to a Challenge Brisbane Innovate: Waste Economy

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David Kearns commented on the Challenge Brisbane Innovate: Waste Economy

A quick review of the waste management hierarchy can help focus attention and resources appropriately:

1. Reduce

2. Reuse

3. Recycle

4. (Energy) Recovery

5. Disposal

Not enough attention is placed on 1. Reduce and 2. Reuse, but it offers the biggest bang for our buck. A huge fraction of the waste we need to handle is from packaging of goods and the use of paper. Incentives can be provided to encourage companies to reduce these waste sources, including:

- Reusable bulk packaging made from robust materials, to be returned to the supplier for refilling/reuse. 

- Dematerialisation efforts to eliminate all extraneous material from packaging (especially non-recyclable components). This can include ridiculous new developments like wrapping vegetables and fruits in plastic at the supermarket.

- Elimination of physical goods where digital counterparts exist (such as incentives to reduce or eliminate physical junk mail and newspapers).

The key here is incentives - we use these materials because they are cheap and convenient, but the waste means the costs of disposal are being borne by those not producing the goods or receiving the profit. Incentives could be carrots and/or sticks - some trials of different models would be worthwhile to see which achieve better outcomes

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Terry Flanders commented on the Challenge Brisbane Innovate: Waste Economy

 "One man's trash, is another man's treasure"

(source unknown)

This well accepted axiom contains the solutions to questions about waste. 'Waste' is a word that is not normally associated with 'treasure'

We all have something in our lives 'we' value.  A value that may not be reflected in how others value the same 'thing'.   Questions of 'value' infer an actual real world value usually ranked by a dollar value.  Inferred values systems are reflected by social values.  Finally there is the abstract value the individual can assign to a concept and/or object.

By deconstructing the referenced quote the following blue print emerges:

1.Change the language to reflect value.

We communicate value by the language we use to describe our treasure.  The words waste, rubbish, trash, garbage all reflect a negative value even though 'treasure' may be buried in a tip.

2. Research.

Do we really know the true value of waste.  Invest in research to identify waste value.  Once true value is assigned, a return on investment argument can be made to attract commercial interests, as opposed to coercive penalties that promote forced change.  For example the link below shows that waste plastic is being turned into roadways to reduce bitumen oil consumption  .  The end product lasts longer than traditional bitumen, making it more economical and sustainable.

https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2018/09/13/road-makers-turn-to-recycled-plastic-for-tougher-surfaces

Who knows (at this time) what other forgotten treasures there are?

3.Social Perception

Having identified the 'forgotten treasures'.  Develop a communication/marketing program.  One that identifies those treasures and includes a plan to harvest, locate, recover valuable commodities.  Wet waste, recyclables can be separated at the source of generation.  These commodities have an obvious and immediate commercial value.  Rare earth minerals concealed in technology are other obvious materials with a real value...so the list goes on.

A deeper deconstruction of the 'source of generation' may also put more emphasis on designers and manufacturers to apply a greener shade to products by taking into account the recycling system.  This approach would redefine the view of traditional end-user making companies more socially responsible with their products.  What we buy informs what is produced.

4. Carrot or Stick

I prefer carrots, so a reward system that promotes positive behaviour and/or positive change.  Naturally, people being people, there will also be a need for regulation and penalties. 

Waste is a by-product of all living systems and like the individuals who work for companies, an organisation is a living system.  Generating research to inform positive value programs will create positive energy directed at identifying, locating and recovering these forgotten treasures.  The end effect, is that we all become treasure hunters.

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Elif Ketencioglu is now contributing to a Challenge Brisbane Innovate: Waste Economy

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Terry Flanders is now contributing to a Challenge Brisbane Innovate: Waste Economy

 
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