Better World with Better Products
Better World with Better Products
After five years with climate being the main focus area, other environmental issues have been more or less forgotten – at least among media and the public opinion. I and other environmental professionals, however, have not forgotten about the problems of soil, air and water pollution, waste, biodiversity, chemicals nor unsustainable production and consumption of products.
Focus and actions come in trends
It is a complex field of understanding and even more complex, when it comes to actions that can really move our vulnerable society forward towards a sustainable future. Therefore focus and actions come in trends.
Social Responsibility came along in the tail of the climate issue. The floor opened for a multi-parameter approach after the years with the single CO2 parameter in focus, I think. The responsibility approach seemed obvious in spite of one disaster following the other, leaving poor countries in an even poorer state. However, the aspects of SR seem very abstract and are not easy to grab for neither media nor citizens, and basically the concept is designed for companies to work with. Thus, the trend moved on to resources, which is much more concrete in the way it relates to materials that we hold in our hands every day.
The Danish government does also focus on resources. Several ministers have stressed the importance of actions that can make a difference for the future resource management: Renewable energy, energy efficiency and recycling for example. Also internationally, OECD, UN and the EU put more and more focus on resources.
Danish enterprises need to get on board
Danish industries may be well underway in some areas, and time has come for Danish enterprises to move even faster along the sustainable track. One way of moving forward would be to explore new fields of business, using core competences from existing successes. Danfoss is an example of this way of thinking: From regulating classical heating systems to regulating solar panel systems and advanced heat pumps.
I was thinking, that maybe Maersk Drilling, who today works with a sunset technology of oil and gas exploration, might capture the moment and transfer all the experience from drilling for fossils into drilling for hot water two kilometres below ground. Geothermal energy is just around the corner for district heating what Denmark is worldwide recognised for. Denmark has a huge potential for geothermal energy – both in the sense of the resource itself and because of the wide spread district heating network already in place.
What has geothermal energy to do with resources? Well, today Danish household waste is incinerated. The incineration plant of Copenhagen receives 400 trucks every day of household waste. This generates 80 trucks daily of slag, which is basically a lot of resources that has been made useless for anything but road construction. The main economy is held up by the production of heat for district heating. Thus, if we want to preserve our materials for recycling into new products, we will need to produce the heat by geothermal energy, providing incentives for recycling of materials that today is simply incinerated because of the positive economy in doing so.
So, resources and energy are closely related, and what is crucial in the age of resources is, that we are able to see the full system of interaction from raw materials acquisition to products becoming waste and the role this has in a future 100 % renewable energy system.