TOMRA: Waste is an old-fashioned concept
Take, make, dispose: this linear economy model of how the world develops and discards its resources and products has been accelerating for the past 40 years. Resources are thrown away and treated like waste, even though they are of high value and could easily have second, third or multiple lives. It is no wonder then that Earth Overshoot Day – marking the day when the demand for natural resources goes beyond the earth’s annual capacity to generate them – is creeping forward earlier and earlier each year. This year, we reached it on the 29th of July. Exactly which planet are we getting our resources from for the rest of the year?
Right now, between 80 and 120 billion dollars’ worth of plastic materials are lost each year. For example, about 40% of plastic packaging goes to landfill, and 32% ends up in nature as litter, with 8 million tons of plastic pollution entering the oceans each year. Counteracting this development must be high on the global environmental agenda in order to maintain our planet for future generations. With finite capacity to generate new resources, we must to turn to the resources we already have… and determine how to gain maximum use from them for greater sustainability, maintain their value and quality, and keep them in a loop of continuous resource reuse.
The end-of-life concept for resources is no longer an option. Stepping back from single-use mindsets, and aligning with the reuse models of a circular economy, is paramount. Volker Rehrmann, Head of TOMRA Circular Economy and Head of TOMRA Recycling/Mining, and Kristine Berg, Circular Economy Advisor at TOMRA, are clear advocates of this transformation. “At TOMRA we know that waste is an old-fashioned concept, and it’s actually resources for something new,” explains Kristine Berg.
In their interview with “The Leadership Series”, the pair give insight into the current resource problem, emphasising the necessary shift to a circular economy on all scales and consumer pressure on brands to become more sustainable. They highlight reuse models that already exist, such as TOMRA reverse vending systems that enable the return of used beverage containers for recycling, and automated waste sorting technology to divert recyclable material destined for landfills.
Closing the loop can only be achieved when all stakeholders work together. TOMRA, as an integral part of the waste-reuse value chain, is among the leaders of this transformation. With its state-of-the-art sensor-based solutions, TOMRA promotes a circular economy by means of advanced collection and sorting systems that optimize resource recovery and minimize waste in the food, recycling and mining industries. TOMRA has further committed to the circular economy by joining The Alliance to End Plastic Waste, which strives to banish plastic waste from our environment.
“Sooner or later, our resources will be gone; it will happen if we don’t change to a circular economy where we will reuse our limited resources,” predicts Volker Rehrmann. “Everything we do at TOMRA is about protecting resources.”