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Sep

ISO 14001 and the Circular Economy

There are a number of publications coming out to help people find their way to the ‘Circular Economy’. BSI has published BS 8001 and it’s worth a look. It includes 6 principles and Catherine Weetman talks about principles in her article on the Circular Economy. Here’s a thought to get your mental ball rolling:

Reduce the use of natural raw materials to an absolute minimum

Great idea, but how do we start? These are the ‘tried and true’ ideas we’re all familiar with and can use to make that first step of our 10,000 mile journey…

  • Recycle and refurbish products
  • Reuse natural resources in various forms
  • Use and consume as much as possible in other manufacturing streams

 

There are (literally!) thousands of ways we can start turning this 800 foot lake freighter around. One of the major mind shifts that has to happen is for us to start demanding products that can be repaired as long as we want to keep using them. When the printer cartridges are drained, we head to Staples and evaluate the $95 investment for replacement cartridges versus a $79 brand new printer that will give us sharper type and images in less time. But good luck if the scanning bed light goes out. The replacement printer for my HP 7640 is the 7858 – it’s on sale for $119.00. There’s a used bulb and motor on eBay for $40 – no guarantee, the seller will not give a refund and it’s not for my model of HP printer. A bit of investigation and I found a post that announced, “HP doesn’t sell printer parts”.

So there we are. Why can’t we have universal bulbs for all brands and models of printers, just like light bulbs that we buy for our lamps? This would at least be a start, wouldn’t it? What are the chances that Corporate Greed will take a back seat to helping reduce waste polluting the planet? I’m not a betting man, but I don’t like the odds that the printer manufacturers would even consider collaborating on bulbs and cartridges. It’s a huge business for them and, sadly, our grandchildren will have to find new ways to manage the waste we’re creating.

ISO 14001 can help move you in a circular economy direction as well as 9001 (quality), 50001 (energy) and even 55001 (asset management). They will all play a role. Getting assets and activities organized as a system is the first step on the road to a sustainable planet!

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