Humanity’s current rate of resource consumption eventually means we will run out. In Switzerland we consume 3 times what we should aim for a sustainable development. Meanwhile, we produce “waste” unlike any other species on the planet – it is a man-made problem. Future of Waste is an initiative that focuses on creating the right conditions for addressing this challenge and triggering change towards more resilient consumption and production patterns at a local level. We are by your side to co-create a stable future for the generation to come.
1. Identify and understand your ecosystem
Ensuring all the right people are around the table is key to the success of your transition. We put our skills at your disposal to fully reveal your system’s complexity on a stakeholder map and make sure you are surrounded by the people who can actually make a difference in your region from all corners of the system.
Going on a journey of transitioning to a circular economy is a positive and hopeful message. It must be heard. We offer communication leverages so that you may tell the world what is happening in your ecosystem. This is done through videos, blog articles, events, and more.
You cannot achieve a circular economy without collaborations. Making sure the ecosystem connects in a meaningful way is at the very heart of our work. We plant seeds of collaboration within your ecosystem through organizing innovative dialogue sessions.
A connected human tissue around you ready to take the dive towards an economy that preserves future generations’ ability to thrive on the planet. A facilitated transition. A tested social innovation process. An opportunity for resilience in business and to be amongst the pioneers of green innovation.
To safeguard the neutrality of the process, the intention is to finance our work and its initiatives through the contributions of all stakeholders. Co-funding this process is key to its success for no one is more willing to participate and contribute in a meaningful way than people who have a vested interest.
We estimate that this 6-month-long pre-project will require CHF 220’000 to be a success.
Our founders Boryana and Julia met during a further education and incubation program the Catalyst Lab by collaboratio helvetica. They both come in with an intention to work in the waste and circular economy field and come out as partners on a project to accelerate the transition towards a regenerative economy.
We believe that the human species should behave and interact with the natural world in a similar way that all other species do: no production of waste, constant evolution and adaptation, and optimal use and reuse of resources and material. The natural environment is regenerative, we can be regenerative too.
The amount of plastic per year leaked into the oceans according to Jambeck et al, 2015, source. The only way to handle this is to cut the pollution at the source.
Switzerland’s position in the European ranking of waste production per capita, source. Only half of that is recycled and hardly any of it is used in Swiss production.
Today, Switzerland uses up three times the amount of resources it should aim to consume to stay within sustainable development goals. source, page 26
Percentage of the environmental budget of Kanton Thurgau invested into waste management and soil, source. Waste reduction would ease this cost.
We leak 8 million tonnes of plastic per year into the oceans (Jambeck et Al. 2015). That is one garbage truck per minute. Focusing only on cleaning up is not sufficient: we need to be more ambitious to prevent this pollution from reaching the natural environment in the first place.
Switzerland’s approach to waste management is unfortunately still too much focused on burning and generating energy through that process. While energy generation is interesting, burning waste generates greenhouse gases, pollution and is a destructive approach that does not allow for recovery of materials. Furthermore, in most people’s minds, circular economy is mainly about recycling and recycling innovation.
This however should be the last step considered in a circular economy transition. As Ellen MacArthur Foundation suggests, a successful transition to a circular economy starts with upstream innovation.
At the same time, in line with a high standard of living, both resource and energy consumption per person, and the respective CO2 emissions in Kanton Thurgau are very high in comparison to those in less developed countries (source).
The canton is characterized by a thriving agricultural sector, which offers a good potential for shorter supply chains in consumer goods and more local consumption. The strong SME sector present can also benefit from more sustainable and innovative business practices and collaboration across sectors when exploring circularity.
Arbon, with its 6500-year-old history and many reinventions, is now a future- and sustainability-orientated city. This makes Arbon a fertile soil for the pilot of Future of Waste within Eastern Switzerland. Through this process, the city can position itself as a national pioneer for innovation, cross-sectorial collaboration and sustainability.
This project aims to rethink our relationship to waste and its creation to limit the staggering leakage of plastics and other wastes into the ocean at the source and empower every stakeholder along the product’s life cycle to make a difference. We want to achieve this by shifting the mindset from seeing waste to seeing resources and connecting every stakeholder to the root cause of the issue but also to each other in a more meaningful and human way. In doing so, we nurture human connections and explore what circular economy collaborations could look like.
We structure our work in 3 steps:
Fully understanding the ecosystem in which you stand is the start of our work and arguably the most important step for success. This could be businesses, shops, consumer organizations, waste treatment or recycling facilities as well as local politicians and administration. We reach out and interview the people in your ecosystem to get a sense of what they are doing and their obstacles. Connecting on a human level as much as possible is what we aim for.
We communicate about what we have learned to civil society and other stakeholders by means of events, blog posts, podcasts, videos, and social media campaigns. Through awareness-building events, we foster the understanding of a regenerative economy and seek to redefine the notion of waste, while the recorded materials can be used for multiplication in the future. This allows for the whole community and ecosystem to be aware of the challenges that pivoting into a circular economy can bring and therefore prepare the mindsets to have a generative discussion about the future.
We invite the stakeholders identified at the first step to participate in a series of (ideally) physical dialogue sessions. In those, through mindful facilitation, we get to develop a common vision for Arbon, identify leverage points and explore together collaboration and solution potentials to shift to a regenerative economy at the local level. Guided by novel social innovation methods, we seek a first step towards systemic shift in Arbon. And maybe even looking out to a broader vision.
The work we will be doing will give some clear outputs:
Reports, publications and documents such as a stakeholder map of the local ecosystem, process report, graphic recording of the dialogue sessions, and an insights report. Academic publications will come out of this process and can potentially give a global visibility of the novel social innovation methods implemented for a regenerative economy on a local level.
Multimedia content for our knowledge platform. We will be creating articles, videos, podcasts, and other content that will aim to raise awareness and increase knowledge in the general population about the issue of waste. It should make it easier for individuals to understand the importance of co-creating a generative economy and, therefore, make it easier to understand some implications that may arise from the process.
Physical encounters of important stakeholders along the value chain. Through our research, we will be reaching out to many people working directly or indirectly on the waste issue. Maybe you are one of them. We intend to invite you to meet as some of you may not know each other or might never have met on neutral grounds. The aspect of neutrality is important to us so that a common understanding and vision can emerge going beyond the current status and obstacles.
Events to gather the general public and invite them to the action. We will be hosting with partners a series of different events to give visibility to what is already being done and what is coming. You may be one of these partners and may want to contribute to some of these events. They will give you visibility and show you as part of the stakeholders that are already in action.
The project we are working on is expected to have some outcomes in the long run:
Rethinking the way we do business and shifting into a regenerative and circular economy means we, as a society, have a massive impact on many levels:
This initiative has base running costs such as administrative costs, rental costs for a space to work and general communication. For this we project a budget of about CHF 50’000.
Arguably the most important phase of the project, phase 1 focuses on mapping the ecosystem and meeting the people in it. It is mainly wo·man hours that are budgeted here for about CHF 40’000.
This is the most visible phase of the project as it focuses on communicating the positive actions already there and the intention of the project to civil society. It includes wo·man hours, podcast and video creation as well as support from communication experts for about CHF 70’000.
The last phase is the climax of the Arbon Initiative: it is the moment where stakeholders meet and imagine the future of Arbon in a regenerative economy. It includes wo·man hours, facilitators, logistical costs and graphic recording for a total of about CHF 60’000.
The circular economy does not happen in boxes, it is a systemic approach. While we chose to operate at a local level to make the system identification manageable and allow for connection on a human level to happen, we strongly believe that in line our approach needs to grow into a national movement. This is why Future of Waste: Arbon is not a one-shot initiative, it is one of many initiatives to come, a part of something bigger. Currently, we are exploring the possibility of running an initiative in Nyon,Geneva and St. Gallen. We intend to multiply the cycles in many more cities and to eventually build up enough knowledge to be able to connect them and grow to the cantonal and then national level. We bet on glocal.
Would you like to explore local synergies, collaborations through an innovative process? Become a co-hosting partner of the local initiative.Get Involved
Do you want to support such work and accelerated the transition towards a circular economy happen?Get Involved
Are you interested in making your company more sustainable and wonder where to start from? You can find our corporate offerings on Let’s Talk Waste.Get Involved