Sustainability

I’ve got the blues!

A tin of tomatoes that has travelled the world is cheaper in the shop than one produced locally, round the corner.
Mathias Fahy

This statements is horribly familiar – sometimes both producers and consumers make strange, inexplicable decisions. But why? Is it human nature? Or is it something else…?

To go back to the tin of tomatoes… the cost of local, responsible production has to compete with mass production due to the ever increasing pressure to create scale effects in our economy (where a reduction in cost is achieved by production on a bigger scale). This means that “good” things very quickly become very expensive and “bad” things very cheap: how do you explain that a BigMac costs half as much as a locally produced lettuce? As a result of this there is, of course, little incentive to change our way of working and living and to make it “more sustainable”.

How can we reconcile cheap with good (for a consumer) or sustainable with profitable (for a producer)? By not focussing on a traditionally green economy – but by our way of doing business and reviewing consumerism according to five simple principles: the principles of the blue economy.

The heart of the issue: look for new sources of income (rather than blind cost cutting) to create real economic value. How? By taking a look at your current activities, outputs and by-products in an innovative manner.

Focus your activities on generating several outputs (contrary to the traditional model of one input and one output) and make sure that you value them. In an ideal situation each output is valuable, either for the end customer or as input for another process.

Did you know that only 0.2% of the coffee bean is actually used to make coffee? The remaining 99.8% can be used as an agricultural product or to make biogas.

The most extreme form is the circular logic in which waste does not exist. Reuse, recycling, maintenance, repair – circular business models are hot because they create ecological and social added value from an economic stimulus. This is at the heart of the BLUE concept: the time has long gone when organisations put a sustainability section on their website to “belong” (remember the term greenwashing?) – sustainability is big business.

Often you cannot create sustainable added value on your own, but by working together within an ecosystem of partners. It is only then that you can make optimal use of all your outputs and they become really valuable. It is certainly no coincidence that the chemical industry is organised “naturally” in a cluster: each organisation is valuable to the other, each output is reused – each individual link is vital, without it the chain falls apart.

All very well, but is this true in real life? I hear you thinking. Yes it is…

I’ll let the video do the talking.

Take a look at your organisation through blue glasses, with passion, creativity and innovative capacity – and create the triple value that everyone has been searching for for so long!

Thanks for reading

Contact our expert

Mathias Fahy