So what are these radicals – some start-up businesses, others new alliances – doing differently? And what can we learn from them?
For a start, new businesses are overturning the assumption that growth depends on producing more stuff. Businesses can cut their use of natural resources dramatically by harnessing the value of the things we already own.
Take peer-to-peer lending and leasing of goods and skills
, facilitated by the likes of NeighborGoods and Zilok. Anyone can sign up online in a matter of minutes, and offer to share household goods or skills with colleagues, friends or neighbours. So now others might benefit from the power drill you use once a year, or the kite you never have time to fly!
Another innovation is around ‘open loop,’ where one business’s waste becomes another’s resource
. The UK’s National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP) pairs organisations that produce waste with ones that can put it to effective use. Trevor Knipe, one of the company’s directors, calls it “speed-dating for wastes.” The possibilities he sees range from turning expanded polystyrene packaging into insulation, to converting old mattresses into bedding for cows. The NISP methodology is already being replicated across the globe, from Hungary to China.
Some cutting edge players are looking even further. Not content with merely reducing their environmental footprint, they have ambitions to restore the natural resources they use.
Take Ecuador, where the Fund for the Protection of Water (FONAG), a private mercantile trust, is collecting payments from downstream water consumers such as water utilities and farmers to pay for watershed management, conservation and access to water upstream. The scheme’s success has sparked plans for ten other water funds in the region, as well as in Peru and Mexico.
We hope that these examples stimulate new thinking to transform business for good and drive the urgent transition we need to a greener economy.
Share your feedback and green innovations you have come across!
Take a look at the different green innovations and we welcome your feedback.
Which one is your favourite? Have you come across a green innovation that you would like to share? We would love to hear from you and your ideas to help spread new thinking.