HBR Blog: We're Running Out of Resources, and It's Going to Be OK
This could be posted in either Environment, Economy, or even Peak Oil, but I chose to put it here. Although it's mostly about business and the economy, it is a conservation and recycling article at its core.
The economy is broken. It's not because of partisan bickering or the debt ceiling. It's not because there is too much government spending or too little, too many taxes or too few. The problem cuts much deeper than that; it's systemic and it's global. The economy is broken because the principles that make the marketplace thrive will eventually destroy it.
Our economic growth is dependent on access to cheap raw materials, and those resources are getting scarcer and more expensive. The McKinsey Global Institute reports that price volatility has hit a high, second only to the energy crisis of the 1970s.
While we scramble to get our hands on an increasingly smaller share of this economic pie, most businesses have failed to realize that the materials they need aren't buried deep under the ground; they are already all around us — they just need to be rescued from the waste stream. It's time to invent a better economy — one that is independent of volatile, increasingly expensive raw materials. And I believe developing more resource-efficient business models will be the largest single financial opportunity of the twenty-first century.
The circular economy — championed by influential organizations like the Ellen MacArthur Foundation — is starting to gain worldwide recognition from scientists, economists, and government officials. Just this week, several companies including Coca-Cola, iFixit, and IKEA announced a collaboration to create $10 billion in resource independent business growth. This new model posits a better future: a global economy that is essentially free from waste--because there is no true end-of-life. All "waste" is a resource for some other industry. <snip>