Sometimes we get a bit down on the human race. Most times it damn hard not to wonder whether we are the intelligent race? And then sometimes we get to smile, and smile big.
Andrew and Nicola Forrest founded Minderoo Foundation in 2001. Minderoo is an Aboriginal word meaning permanent and clean water.
The Foundation is built to tackle big issues that harm the world’s environment and people. Their tools are curiosity, research, collaboration, innovation and kindness.
Their latest challenge is to tackle plastic waste. And they are doing it by understanding how to make businesses change: simply make the solution cheaper than the problem.
The Minderoo Foundation has committed $US300 million ($440 million AUD) to the campaign that aims to incentivise businesses to pay a voluntary contribution to push up the cost of manufacturing polymer from oil and gas. This would make it cheaper to manufacture it using plastic waste.
Under the proposal, the extra cost per tonne of polymer made from fossil fuels would be passed onto consumer brands, meaning the contribution would be “fully reimbursed”, adding value for businesses by helping companies shift from fossil fuels as well as creating a commodity out of plastic waste. Mr Forrest explains how to do it.
“If you elevate the price of polymer per tonne from fossil fuel up by, say, $500 dollars a tonne, then all recycling worldwide getting polymer from plastic, not fossil fuels, instantly becomes economic,” he said.
“As it’s a minimum $1000 a tonne, that’s a $350 billion per annum business here to tap into … soon growing to 500 billion tonnes a year or a $US500 million business per annum. So you’ve got that massive scale of business if you’re a petrochem to get into while you save the environment and get fully refunded for doing so.”
And that is how you get a great big smile. So clever, so simple that they now have the support of Saudi Arabian oil and gas giant Saudi Aramco, south-east Asia’s biggest petrochemical company Reliance Industries and consumer goods giants Coca-Cola and Unilever.
There just maybe a future for us and our planet.