Waste nothing, recycle everything – the basis of cyclic economy

“You can only be carbon neutral if you don’t exist” said Michael Braungart during The Bridge Talk #1 in Malmö. Braungart is a German chemist who is trying to reinvent the productive model of humanity. He has talked several times at TEDx-meetings around the world, explaining what environmentalist are doing wrong. Together with the American architect William McDonough (his partner at McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry), he wrote the book “Cradle to Cradle”, attempting to design a system in which there is no waste in industrial production, only truly recycled material.

One example of how we really can do proper recycling, is recycling paper into new paper, not burning it. Burning waste is not environmentally smart, since we are only getting 10% energy out of what could have been 100%.

Michael is a true visionary environmental thinker and currently holds the Cradle-to-Cradle chair at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Michael has long been involved with research and consultancy for eco-effective products. His mantra is that we need to put products and production processes in a loop, not harmless to man or nature, but beneficial to everyone. When we embrace that we are carbon positive and that we can use this looping the carbon, we also embrace abundance and generosity instead of competition for the resources that are left. Speaking about the rise of populism and fear, Braungart said: ”People misbehave under stress. The first thing we need to do is to generate systems that make people feel safe. I see humans as an opportunity to the planet, not a burden. We need to celebrate our footprint, not minimize it.”

His talk in Malmö January 11th was the start of a range of activities culminating in The Bridge Summit in Copenhagen in August. Watch a short interview with Michael Braungart here.