The world’s resources are dwindling. Renewable resources are consumed faster than they can regenerate, and as society’s most accessible finite resources are used up, extraction methods become increasingly disruptive. Demand for virgin resources can be mitigated if all of the materials society uses are repurposed, rather than discarded as waste. Doing so also eliminates the costs – financial, environmental and human – that waste disposal incurs.
Future-fit companies ensure that all their operational by-products are repurposed. In particular, organic waste may be composted and returned to the soil, and materials that can be reused (e.g. metals) must be reclaimed. Note that waste in the form of direct emissions into air, land or water is covered by the goal Operational emissions do not harm people or the environment.
A company should eliminate by-products wherever possible and – in descending order of preference – should, repurpose unavoidable by-products as follows:
- Refurbish, remanufacture or reuse: it is cleaned, repaired or otherwise processed to be used again.
- Recycle: it is turned into a new resource that the company or a third party can use.
- Recover: it is a biogenic substance (100% derived from animals/plants) and is composted or recovered as energy.