Complex Made Simple

SABIC, Google, Hugo Boss, RAK, gyrating around circular economy

Sneakers from coffee, cement from manure, fashion from fruits. Circular economies are far from dull

Fabric made from coffee grounds with recycled plastic waste to create sneaker pairs that weigh 460g, of which 300g is coffee grounds Italian fashion label Salvatore Ferragamo has a range of clothes that use a material made from orange peel SABIC has notably committed to reducing its energy consumption, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and water usage intensity by 25% by 2025

When I saw a World Economic Forum (WEF) story titled “Your next pair of sneakers could be made from coffee”, I was intrigued.

I love coffee, so I ran with the idea, and this led me to global efforts from entrepreneurs, companies and cities embracing the concept of a circular economy.  

Coffee & sneakers

The WEF said coffee is a 2 billion cups a day market. That’s a lot of coffee ground being wasted and contributing to the food waste problem where around a third of all food produced is thrown away.

“Now two entrepreneurs in Helsinki have started making sneakers from used coffee grounds,” said WEF.

Their business, Rens, combines fabric made from coffee grounds with recycled plastic waste to create sneaker pairs that weigh 460g, of which 300g is coffee grounds.

Read more: Sustainable City announces roadmap to reduce consumption of single-use plastic by 90%

Making a fashion statement with fruits

Hemp, pineapple leaves, banana trunks and sugar cane bark are being turned into packaging, fertilizer, biofuel and environmentally friendly fibre, according to WEF.

“Clothing company Hugo Boss has a range of footwear made from Pinatex, derived from pineapple plant fibre. Fashion designer Stella McCartney is backing a leather alternative called Mylo that is made from mushrooms. Italian fashion label Salvatore Ferragamo has a range of clothes that use a material made from orange peel. And Swedish fashion retailer H&M uses algae in the soles of some its sandals,” said the WEF.

That’s great considering that the fashion industry is responsible for around 20% of the world’s wastewater.

Read more: YouGov Survey: UAE residents open to sustainable fashion but price still drives purchases

Google: In search for circular solutions

Having just adopted its first circular economy strategy ever, Google New vision is creating “a circular Google in a sustainable world”.

The strategy aims to “disrupt the waste economy” with a focus on data centres, workplaces, electronics and more.

Google said about 2.1 million units are resold for secondary use and 18% of its new servers are being remanufactured from old ones,

RAK’s smoking camel idea

Bent on cutting carbon emissions Ras Al Khaimah (RAK), is using more than 50 tonnes of camel manure each day to fuel cement production, starting in May this year.

The emirate is home to roughly 9,000 camels and each produces about 8 to 10 kilos a day of compost, and in the process saving some 18,000 tonnes of carbon emissions. RAK has more than 317,000 goats, 81,000 sheep and 5,000 cattle to consider for similar experiments.

SABIC seeks good chemistry with the ecology

SABIC, a global leader in the chemical industry recently launched its Sustainability Roadmap aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The plan ambitiously targets resource efficiency in favour of a circular economy, food security, sustainable infrastructure, and preservation of the environment.

The ‘SABIC Sustainable Development Roadmap 2019’ spans the organization’s entire value chain from sourcing more sustainable feedstock, to improving energy efficiency across operations.

SABIC has notably committed to reducing its energy consumption, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and water usage intensity by 25% by 2025 from 2010 levels.

It has recently announced that it is scaling-up a pioneering world-first process to return mixed plastic waste back to the original polymer to help drive the circular economy.

GCC savings using Circular economies

GCC countries can save almost $138 billion by 2030 if they adopt a circular economic model.

The report, developed in collaboration with the World Government Summit and the Ideation Centre, the think tank for Strategy& Middle East, said the GCC should target its construction sector which produces 35 to 40% of the waste in the region, compared to 25% to 30% in the EU, leading to potential benefits of more than $23 billion between 2020 and 2030.

It added that considerable economic, social, and environmental value can be generated through a circular model in mobility which could generate cumulative benefits of $69 billion from 2020 to 2030.

Boosting circularity within households could generate cumulative benefits of $46 billion between 2020 and 2030, the report said.