As much as possible, we should aim at waste reduction, reuse, and recycling before throwing out the waste. If waste must go to the bin, please know that the waste may well be the source of wealth for someone.
The idea behind all waste to wealth efforts is that most waste materials are not end products to be disposed of. But rather that waste materials are valuable resources that can be processed and converted into usable materials like textile, paper, fertilizer, fuel, containers, fashion accessories, building materials, food nutrient and bio oxidants to mention a few.
There are lots of benefits to be derived from waste and a lot of options for deriving wealth from waste are being explored and exploited across the world. One success story is a German start- up that uses milk that would have gone to waste to manufacture textile fibres using sustainable processes.
The company Qmilch GmbH, founded by German designer Anke Domaske, has developed an innovative process to produce a textile fiber from milk which cannot be used for consumption.
Casein is the main resource for the textile fibre and it is obtained from raw milk, that is no longer tradable and which cannot be used as food. In Germany where the textile fibre was developed, about 1.9 million tons of milk must be disposed of every year. This milk still contains valuable ingredients and offers great potential for technical purposes. The textile fiber is made from 100% renewable resources and so it is
- It is biodegradable, leaves no traces and contains 0% chemical additives
- It is naturally antibacterial and ideal for people that suffer from textile allergies
- Organic fiber tested for harmful substances and dermatologically tested for skin and
- Blends well with other fibers
- Like silk, it’s also temperature regulating, light, absorbent, compostable and flame resistant. Fabrics made from the fiber provide high wearing comfort
If you are thinking of how to turn waste to wealth, the following guidelines may be useful:
- What is the end product? Will it be useful?
- What is the source of the waste material to be used for the product? Is it available in large quantities? Can it be available in large quantities? Is it sustainable?
- What processes will be used for converting the waste?
- What are the costs/ benefits of the initiative? Consider the environmental and economic costs and benefits? Which is more?
- How do you aggregate the waste to be converted?
- How do you get the new product to the market?
- How will you fund the venture?
- What partnerships will you require? State involvement? Private ventures?
- How do you convince stakeholders? Think about your waste suppliers, the consumers of the new product, authorities etc.
You can also join the ‘Wecyclers Independent Contractor Program!
So, the next time you are about to throw away that thing; food, paper bottle, anything! Please stop, put on your thinking hat and think; what might this be useful for?
And always remember- It’s Reduce, Reuse, Wecycle!