Innovation has propelled the human race forward since the dawn of time - from the wheel, to the horse and cart, steam and internal combustion. Yet as our natural resources wane, what's next? It's time to innovate.
We all know we cannot continue using our natural resources recklessly. After all, it was roughly this time last year the National Grid was on high-alert due to an increased blackout risk , because it was struggling to meet demand. To avoid this we need to focus on sustainable resources and supporting the circular economy.
Put simply this means looking beyond the current lifecycle of everything we buy, use and consume to make sure it can be recycled and remanufactured in order to keep as much value in the supply chain as possible. Whether it's a raw material, new product, green energy or clean water, by minimising the amount of non-renewable resources we use we're not only looking after the environment but also the bottom line. As Business in the Community's Responsible Business of the Year we've made Resourcing the World our mission and we want more businesses to realise this way of thinking has the potential to pay dividends.
We want to encourage others to see that often in today's world things aren't just what they appear: phones are cameras, watches can be cardiac monitors and organic waste is... power. And this is where the key lies. Where others see waste, we see a potential resource: energy.
As a nation we need to ensure we're transforming as much of our organic waste into green energy as possible. In the UK alone, around 15 million tonnes of food is thrown away every year . Of this, approximately 1.7 million tonnes is inedible food waste such as potato skins, peelings from fruit and production by-product, and all of this can be turned into green fuel.
For example, the Anaerobic Digestion (AD) facility in Leeming Bar, North Yorkshire, treats ice cream by-product from nearby R&R Ice Cream. It takes the sugar, protein and fat that is left behind after production line cleansing and converts it into biomethane, a biogas, which is then injected directly onto the Northern Gas Networks pipeline to power it.
This is a genuine example of 'waste' being rethought and turned into a valuable natural resource. Moving forward we all must take a moment to review what we dispose of because within this there's often an opportunity to innovate - from 99s right the way through to sludge and waste wood.
Anaerobic digestion is an underutilised source of alternative energy and so we need to strengthen our expertise in treating organic waste. This will not only give us carbon neutral green energy but take pressure off the National Grid. Let's start putting the circular economy into practice, deliver cost savings for businesses and start creating a sustainable future for us all.