Blue Australasia, the Australian entity of the ‘be sustainable’ group launched its NSW chapter last night at the Carbon Reduction Institute (CRI), in partnership with Green Ups. Blue Australasia is a consultancy that applies Blue Economy solutions to businesses and communities, including the built environment, manufacturing, agricultural and corporate sectors. The solutions, which are open source, are founded on Gunter Pauli’s Blue Economy principles.
Gunter Pauli, founder of Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives, shares theses solutions in his 2010 book The Blue Economy: 10 Years, 100 Innovations, 100 Million Jobs, which was originally intended as a report to the Club of Rome, the think tank responsible for The Limits to Growth report.
Blue Australasia counterparts, Martin Blake; Founder, Ian Dunlop; Non-Executive Director, Sarah-Jane Sherwood; NSW Leader and Professor Ray Wills; WA Leader, gathered last night to introduce Blue Economy concepts in New South Wales.
Sarah-Jane Sherwood emphasised, “What’s important to note is that there are some fantastic green, circular economy and industrial ecology solutions out there. The term Blue Economy was coined by Gunter Pauli who says it doesn’t matter what you call it, call it Green Economy 2.0 if you like, it just needs a name to be identified by. Blue Economy takes all of those great solutions, applies systems thinking and ensures they work efficiently. Most importantly it plans ahead to avoid unintended consequences.”
Pauli was working for green cleaning product company, Ecover, when he realised that, even though Ecover’s products were better for the environment, the palm oil they were using was destroying the habitat of the orang-utan. He knew then that we needed to plan better, to think higher up the chain to ensure we weren’t doing damage else where in the system. He founded The Blue Economy movement to address this.
“A case study right here in NSW is Toby’s Estate coffee,” Says Sherwood, “The company is collecting the coffee grind waste from its coffee shops (of which only 0.2% is utilised in a cup of coffee) and using the waste to grow mushrooms on. Those mushrooms will then be sold to distributors and can also be used as a food source for underprivileged communities.
“This is actually a good Circular Economy example – the Blue Economy would then take the Mycelium (the protein the mushroom root produces), feed it to livestock, turn the livestock manure into biofuel and use the biofuel to power the coffee plants and stores. Blue is about zero waste, zero emissions, zero inefficiency and producing your own energy source.“
Blue Economy looks to examples from nature (biomimicry) of how we should behave, to design buildings for instance. A case study is of the zebra stripes, the white stripe repels heat, the black attracts it and the air pressure above causes a circulation. If you apply the design to buildings it produces a natural air conditioning system.
“The difference really,” Sherwood adds, “is that it is holistic and every aspect of the business is considered, including inefficiencies in employee resources, which ultimately lead to higher energy consumption. Once the business is operating at 100% efficiency and creating zero damage to the environment and communities it operates in you can call it Blue.”
The Blue Economy is collaborative and social in its nature. It works with what is locally or already available and evolves processes to be more integrated and sustainable. It creates jobs and moves people out of poverty. It produces new revenue streams and can demonstrate immediate returns on investment (ROI).
Sherwood concludes, “We have received some scepticism from the green movement about how Blue is different and whether it will take off but, if you have a great green initiative, talk to a Blue Economy specialist to find out how it can enhanced by Blue Economy thinking. The team is always happy to chat and share ideas. Blue Australasia is also working to ensure it can finance projects, so businesses can start seeing rewards immediately with no money down.
“We are all working to the same end goal; a healthier planet. In a Blue Economy world, nothing goes to landfill and we have no carbon footprint. Similarly, in nature nothing is wasted and only value is added to ecosystems. That is the goal we need to be working towards collectively if we have a hope of saving our planet.”
Further reading: Interview with Martin Blake in The Fifth Estate.