Fast Things 6: Cradle to Cradle in the Home

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Everything in this picture has been improved through technology, except the landfill.

The guilt lobotomy that you can perform on your consumer through having them be part of your recycling effort will bear fruit for you. There is, however, a further step you can take. Take a stroll into their kitchen. The kitchen is a sink. A swirly hole through which metric tonnes of food, polymers, and other materials get disposed of each year. If you place a recycling or collection device into this intimate family environment, you can get people to give you free materials conveniently.

Kiteezi Landfill, Uganda. A contemporary composition in color.

Meanwhile, every time they cook or head off to work, they will be aware of the stellar job that you are doing in helping them save the planet. Just me and Red Bull working together to save the world! Meanwhile, those other sodas just lose at Formula One. In an age of anxiety, you can assuage any guilt through inserting your product into the daily lives of millions of consumers. You will be their partner, their soft drink warrior helping them save the world with the flick of a wrist.

Do this sincerely and with efficacy, and you will have guaranteed access to millions of kilos of recycled materials at low cost while reaping brand benefits. Think of recycling as a way for the consumer to do even more for your bottom line by reducing your raw material cost. Consider recycling and “green” not as good things because that won’t motivate you to do anything. Instead, see them akin to e-tickets, self-scan shopping, or other initiatives that transfer labor traditionally done by your firm to the consumer. Procurement by the consumer, perhaps?

Ultimately an in the home recycling bin by a company you own will be the goal. Perhaps several for compositing, grinding down polymers and compacting aluminum could become the norm. Or maybe this is a winner takes all market? As an added benefit, you could nudge the consumer to clean bottles and other packaging, remove labels and carry out many of the labor-intensive sorting tasks from the comfort of their own home. People will feel much better and be primed to buy many more of your products.

The 3Devo Recycling system with an Ultimaker.

Billions are being spent in trying to conquer the “talking ever listening speakers” market in the living room. Perhaps a subscription for “true recycling” in the kitchen, a Netflix for garbage is another step? It would be tempting to just, upstream, cut off only the cans. Coke alone sells 1.9 billion servings of its drinks each day.

That’s a lot of aluminum and plastic. It would be a more significant challenge to take all of the waste streams from the home. Perhaps pick out the raisins from the cornflakes though? Ultimately the most prominent opportunity would in facilitating cradle to cradle recycling and production inside the house itself. The consumer would rent a machine from you that grinds up and compacts polymers of a particular type, mixing in some of your material each time. It then lets the consumer 3D print out all manner of items from that waste product. Once the consumer is done with the item, they can pop the 3D printed product back inside for regrind and reprinting.

This won’t work, so you’ll have to come up with a way to separate and store too degraded materials for use as downcycled 3D prints. So the first cycle to the third you’d turn the rPET into any finished item, the fourth to the fifth cycle would become B-side parts only, the sixth cycle would be for draft parts and the seventh cycle for the inside cover for a lamp in the garden which would be there for many years. By implementing cradle to cradle recycling inside the home through 3D printing, you would become an inexpensive way for consumers to consume products and express themselves.

People could make what they wished, share, or buy designs but also consume designs per subscription. If successful TAAS (Things As A Service) would cut off all other distribution and be at a perennial arm’s length of consumers. Lower C02, lower material usage, less fuel, and more local production as well as in the home recycling would have a massive impact on how society operates. Get all of the awards. In a world whose heroes are dying, become one.

By the cold hard logic of business and the glint of greed, there is an inexorable logic to this as well. A subscription for waste coupled with a subscription for design, could unlock a plethora of things and business opportunities. By being the in-home production tool that works on the lowest cost material, you have genuine advantages over any other manufacturer or design company for things. By slowly increasing the resolution of your device, you could tackle more desirable and useful things all the time until there was no stopping you. A winner takes all long term play for all of the things that would leave Jeff Bezos scratching his head to compete.

Txemari Public domain, Lars Schoebitz Public domain.

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