Supply chains have received a lot of attention lately including being featured in globalEDGE’s April Newsletter on the emerging industry of Reverse Supply Chains. However, another important part of a product’s life cycle is end-of-life management. Historically consumers’ only choice was to throw unwanted products away and manufacturers could help the environment by reducing packaging or making it biodegradable. Many consumers are now being offered the opportunity to recycle and companies around the world have sprung up to offer products and services that create profit while helping municipalities and citizens "Go Green!"
The Wall Street Journal recently featured an interview with the founder of Recyclebank, Ron Gonen. Gonen started the company while an M.B.A. student at Columbia Business School by devising an award system that gives residents points based on how much they recycle. The points can then be redeemed at large merchants such as Footlocker, RubyTuesday and Staples to name a few. Recyclebank saves cities money by helping to reduce landfill fees and is paid based on the amount of garbage diverted from landfills. Since beginning with its pilot city, Philadelphia, the company has helped stop an estimated billion pounds of waste in 29 states and the United Kingdom.
Emerging countries are also starting to realize that recycling is imperative to the sustainability of their impressive growth. India is a perfect example of a country that has dramatically increased their recycling in recent years. Although India does not have a strong public waste system, many entrepreneurs and individuals have stepped up to help solve India’s burgeoning waste issue. Bangalore-based KK Waste Management (KKWM) developed a proprietary blend of powdered recycled plastic and other additives that can be combined with bitumen to create roads that are stronger and more impervious to water. The company collects plastic from local rag-pickers and housewives and pays them Rs 6/kg (15 times more than independent collectors offer). KKWM’s process requires two metric tons of waste per kilometer of road. Seeing that Bangalore alone generates 30 MT of waste per month, the process not only helps the environment, but is also a boon for the local economy.
These are just two great examples of how business and the environment can not only coexist in society but also thrive and benefit from one another. If you’re looking to start your own business it would be a great idea to look to recycling and sustainable waste management because the opportunities are plentiful in developed and emerging markets alike.