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Tags circular economy , ewaste , recycling

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Old 6th June 2019, 11:55 PM   #1
Orphia Nay
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Circular Economy & Recycling & e-Waste

I'll start the topic with a link dump:

Circular Economy (Wikipedia)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circular_economy


E-Waste Offers an Economic Opportunity as Well as Toxicity (NYT):

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/05/m...-toxicity.html


Promoting the circular economy can also stimulate consumption (China Daily)

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/20190...5c34ed6e2.html


This is a concept/term I've become interested in, and would like anyone to add any thoughts they've had on this.
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Old 7th June 2019, 04:54 AM   #2
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I've been doing this my whole life. I grew up on a farm where everything was recycled as much as possible. I wore second-hand clothes, played with second-hand toys and rode to school on a second-hand bike. My current house was built in 1980 - still has the original carpets and decor etc. My refrigerator was second-hand when I bought it in 1978 - still working perfectly 40 years later. I recently bought a 'new' 7 year old Nissan Leaf, and sold my old car for scrap. Almost everything I own is either second-hand or was purchased decades ago.

I ran a computer store where we took trade-ins and resold the machines or made up systems from the parts. I am now into 'vintage' computers, which are becoming so valuable today that nobody throws them away. To maintain them I buy recycled parts from eBay. I also do electronic repairs and make projects using bits scavenged from old equipment. People leave stuff on my door-step rather than throw it away because they know I can use it (maybe even to fix their stuff!).

Sadly, most modern electronic devices don't have anything in them worth scavenging, which is one reason I prefer working on the older stuff. Just because it's old doesn't mean it's no good. My main computer was made in 1994 and is still going well, even still does email and accesses many of the websites I frequent. For things it can't do I have a couple of PCs running XP and Linux - both given to me for nothing!

Why throw stuff away when it can be reused or stripped down for parts and the materials recycled? Only because our 'consumer economy' demands constant production and consumption. But for those of us who lived in a time when technology was expensive and things were designed to be maintained, throwing serviceable stuff away just to get the latest version seems stupid. And if you no longer want something, why not pass it on to someone who does?

Capitalists hate people like me. What good is owning the 'means of production' if people don't keep buying your stuff? You sell something once and the bastards just swap it between themselves, or keep it forever and treat it with respect so it doesn't break! How can you get rich when they are not being good consumers?

But in the long run an economy that doesn't recycle is doomed. Even before resources run out the waste becomes a problem. Our wold is now suffering from waste on a global scale, and it's only going to get worse - much worse if we don't do something about it. Cheap oil driving our economy, but we have to keep (over)consuming to prop it up. And the devastation caused by the waste (CO2 etc.) will last for centuries.
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Old 7th June 2019, 07:04 AM   #3
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The electronic waste salvage makes rare valuable metals reappear from stuff. But for every gram of mercury or gold there is s ton of plastic nobody knows how to effectivele reuse and a barrel of toxic chemicals used in the extraction. In places like the US the wastes are what kills the profit margin of the desired products. The EPA and other like agencies in Europe will ensure that it won't be done there legally and profitability for a while more.

To do that more work has to go into reprocessing the residues for possibly more useful products and a relatively safe final waste that can be disposed of in a low cost manner. Maybe getting some of the chemicals back into the process for multiple uses.

As for homebrew recycling, I do that too. Some of our fave furniture is recycled wood and fasteners in a true depression era spirit. I went through a phase a few years ago. I still make some just for fun.

Handmade paint trays and rollers, ladders for use around the house also. Because I could..

A plan to make a rooftop garden of cast off rustic bits is in progress but goes slowly. Rebuilt bikes from used bits to transport long lumber and somewhat larger loads, yup, one in progress. I hate paying others. And I am getting long in the tooth to walk it home over a few days.


I am not sure some of my efforts are for the better long term but our portion of landfill use is minimal and a lot of worthless material gets another run at life.


I am sure after my funeral that the final tally will take a hard turn when my wife and son clean out my shop.
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Old 7th June 2019, 09:30 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Orphia Nay View Post
Promoting the circular economy can also stimulate consumption (China Daily)

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/20190...5c34ed6e2.html.
In spite of the buzzword "economy", this article does not address the fundamental weakness of the economic system. It can only function if there is endless exponential growth. Without it, the economy stagnates, people are thrown out on the economic scrap heap and living standards fail. Needless to say, this requires never ending increases in production (and a corresponding increase in the rate of consumption of this planet) even if what is produced can not be consumed in its entirety (waste).

Similarly, although the article expounds on the virtues of re-use and recycling, it does not establish a link between that and increased consumption.
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Old 11th June 2019, 01:01 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Roger Ramjets View Post
I've been doing this my whole life. I grew up on a farm where everything was recycled as much as possible. I wore second-hand clothes, played with second-hand toys and rode to school on a second-hand bike. My current house was built in 1980 - still has the original carpets and decor etc. My refrigerator was second-hand when I bought it in 1978 - still working perfectly 40 years later. I recently bought a 'new' 7 year old Nissan Leaf, and sold my old car for scrap. Almost everything I own is either second-hand or was purchased decades ago.

I ran a computer store where we took trade-ins and resold the machines or made up systems from the parts. I am now into 'vintage' computers, which are becoming so valuable today that nobody throws them away. To maintain them I buy recycled parts from eBay. I also do electronic repairs and make projects using bits scavenged from old equipment. People leave stuff on my door-step rather than throw it away because they know I can use it (maybe even to fix their stuff!).

Sadly, most modern electronic devices don't have anything in them worth scavenging, which is one reason I prefer working on the older stuff. Just because it's old doesn't mean it's no good. My main computer was made in 1994 and is still going well, even still does email and accesses many of the websites I frequent. For things it can't do I have a couple of PCs running XP and Linux - both given to me for nothing!

Why throw stuff away when it can be reused or stripped down for parts and the materials recycled? Only because our 'consumer economy' demands constant production and consumption. But for those of us who lived in a time when technology was expensive and things were designed to be maintained, throwing serviceable stuff away just to get the latest version seems stupid. And if you no longer want something, why not pass it on to someone who does?

Capitalists hate people like me. What good is owning the 'means of production' if people don't keep buying your stuff? You sell something once and the bastards just swap it between themselves, or keep it forever and treat it with respect so it doesn't break! How can you get rich when they are not being good consumers?

But in the long run an economy that doesn't recycle is doomed. Even before resources run out the waste becomes a problem. Our wold is now suffering from waste on a global scale, and it's only going to get worse - much worse if we don't do something about it. Cheap oil driving our economy, but we have to keep (over)consuming to prop it up. And the devastation caused by the waste (CO2 etc.) will last for centuries.
Great reply!

Capitalists have us working long hours for just enough money that we have to buy new things because we don't have time to fix/sell/recycle old things, or learn how to, or feel positive enough to.

Originally Posted by 8enotto View Post
The electronic waste salvage makes rare valuable metals reappear from stuff. But for every gram of mercury or gold there is s ton of plastic nobody knows how to effectivele reuse and a barrel of toxic chemicals used in the extraction. In places like the US the wastes are what kills the profit margin of the desired products. The EPA and other like agencies in Europe will ensure that it won't be done there legally and profitability for a while more.

To do that more work has to go into reprocessing the residues for possibly more useful products and a relatively safe final waste that can be disposed of in a low cost manner. Maybe getting some of the chemicals back into the process for multiple uses.

As for homebrew recycling, I do that too. Some of our fave furniture is recycled wood and fasteners in a true depression era spirit. I went through a phase a few years ago. I still make some just for fun.

Handmade paint trays and rollers, ladders for use around the house also. Because I could..

A plan to make a rooftop garden of cast off rustic bits is in progress but goes slowly. Rebuilt bikes from used bits to transport long lumber and somewhat larger loads, yup, one in progress. I hate paying others. And I am getting long in the tooth to walk it home over a few days.


I am not sure some of my efforts are for the better long term but our portion of landfill use is minimal and a lot of worthless material gets another run at life.


I am sure after my funeral that the final tally will take a hard turn when my wife and son clean out my shop.
Great work!

I've been looking into what can now be recycled in my town.

Soft plastic, bottle top lids, bread tags, office supplies & pens, and lots more things you may already have heard of.

I think we have nearly as many second-hand clothes shops as we do new clothes shops.

Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
In spite of the buzzword "economy", this article does not address the fundamental weakness of the economic system. It can only function if there is endless exponential growth. Without it, the economy stagnates, people are thrown out on the economic scrap heap and living standards fail. Needless to say, this requires never ending increases in production (and a corresponding increase in the rate of consumption of this planet) even if what is produced can not be consumed in its entirety (waste).

Similarly, although the article expounds on the virtues of re-use and recycling, it does not establish a link between that and increased consumption.
Not sure why "economy" equates only to "growth".

Especially in China, where negative population growth is predicted from 2030.

That assumes someone has to profit out of people being alive.

If goods and energy production and food production are sustainable, why can't the economy be sustainable too?

Just been watching a talk on Universal Basic Income, but we don't need to debate that issue, though it's an idea that might end up being synchronous with less global over-consumption, or even not "socialist" enough.

We may not all need as much income if we realise the harms of this endless neophilia and consumption of novelty items, toys, fast fashion.

We could all be happy exercising, and teaching, creating, growing, cooking, and mending/repurposing things.
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Old 11th June 2019, 01:17 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
In spite of the buzzword "economy", this article does not address the fundamental weakness of the economic system. It can only function if there is endless exponential growth. Without it, the economy stagnates, people are thrown out on the economic scrap heap and living standards fail. Needless to say, this requires never ending increases in production (and a corresponding increase in the rate of consumption of this planet) even if what is produced can not be consumed in its entirety (waste).

Similarly, although the article expounds on the virtues of re-use and recycling, it does not establish a link between that and increased consumption.
True, current economic models need constant growth, but we can pick growth of what.
Eco-friendliness could just as easily be the benchmark as revenue.
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Old 11th June 2019, 05:17 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
True, current economic models need constant growth, but we can pick growth of what.
Eco-friendliness could just as easily be the benchmark as revenue.
I am curious as to which "current economic models need constant growth."
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Old 11th June 2019, 05:28 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Startz View Post
I am curious as to which "current economic models need constant growth."
All that rely on investments.
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Old 11th June 2019, 06:19 AM   #9
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I've heard that claim before. For thousands of years, farmers invested every spring and reaped every fall. No growth, no calamity.
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Old 11th June 2019, 06:26 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Startz View Post
I've heard that claim before. For thousands of years, farmers invested every spring and reaped every fall. No growth, no calamity.
...until they had to borrow money.
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Old 11th June 2019, 06:31 AM   #11
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In many times and places exactly what farmers do is borrow money every Spring for seeds, etc. Come Fall they pay off their loans with part of the crop and have the rest to eat/sell.
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Old 11th June 2019, 07:02 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Startz View Post
In many times and places exactly what farmers do is borrow money every Spring for seeds, etc. Come Fall they pay off their loans with part of the crop and have the rest to eat/sell.
... at which point, they have to produce more than before to service the interest - hence GROWTH.


Which might or might not work, depending on factors not under the farmers' control.

Debt bondage due to farmers going bankrupt was so endemic in ancient times that regular debt amnesties were necessary to bring workers back to the fields.

An economy working with debt by necessity requires growth.
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Old 11th June 2019, 07:06 AM   #13
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I think I didn't do a very good job of asking my question. I'm wondering whether people have some particular mathematical (not necessarily formal) model in mind.
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Old 11th June 2019, 08:25 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Startz View Post
I've heard that claim before. For thousands of years, farmers invested every spring and reaped every fall. No growth, no calamity.
You are describing a subsistence economy and we definitely don't have a subsistence economy.
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Old 11th June 2019, 08:28 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Orphia Nay View Post
Not sure why "economy" equates only to "growth".

Especially in China, where negative population growth is predicted from 2030.
Negative population growth equates to negative demand growth which is disastrous for businesses.

Maybe as a planned economy, China can avoid the worst of the recessionary pressures that a declining population will bring but planned economies don't have a good track record.
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Old 11th June 2019, 08:45 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
You are describing a subsistence economy and we definitely don't have a subsistence economy.
Okay, but why is it different in a market economy?

More to the point, I'm trying to understand why quite a few people here think that an economy with investments necessarily requires some kind of unsustainable growth.
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Old 11th June 2019, 09:02 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Startz View Post
Okay, but why is it different in a market economy?

More to the point, I'm trying to understand why quite a few people here think that an economy with investments necessarily requires some kind of unsustainable growth.
An oversimplified explanation would be that debt facilitates additional production. Rising debt levels require increasing amounts of production (and consumption) which requires more debt to service that debt.

In an economy without growth (or growth only consistent with population increases) there can't be any winners without losers and everybody wants to win. A system that facilitates exponential growth helps create more winners (even if it is mostly at the top).
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Old 11th June 2019, 09:23 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
An oversimplified explanation would be that debt facilitates additional production. Rising debt levels require increasing amounts of production (and consumption) which requires more debt to service that debt.
Thanks. That's a responsive answer.

Investment certainly can contribute to growth (seems to me that's a good thing, but that's a separate question).

But consider a world in which debt facilitates additional production. The lenders receive more than they lent, and then eat the excess leaving just enough to lend out again next year. Next year debt begins at exactly the same level as it did this year.
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Old 11th June 2019, 09:38 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Startz View Post
Thanks. That's a responsive answer.

Investment certainly can contribute to growth (seems to me that's a good thing, but that's a separate question).

But consider a world in which debt facilitates additional production. The lenders receive more than they lent, and then eat the excess leaving just enough to lend out again next year. Next year debt begins at exactly the same level as it did this year.
In this case, the lender accumulates more wealth, which he will lend to another farmer, increasing his need to produce.
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Old 11th June 2019, 09:45 AM   #20
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Quote:
But consider a world in which debt facilitates additional production. The lenders receive more than they lent, and then eat the excess leaving just enough to lend out again next year. Next year debt begins at exactly the same level as it did this year.
Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
In this case, the lender accumulates more wealth, which he will lend to another farmer, increasing his need to produce.
In the example I gave the lender eats the excess, so they don't accumulate more wealth. When they lend again, they get the same excess again. So total production is consumed each year, part by the farmer and part by the lender as a return to capital. The economy is in a steady-state with no tendency to grow or shrink.
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Old 11th June 2019, 10:08 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Startz View Post
Investment certainly can contribute to growth (seems to me that's a good thing, but that's a separate question).
But is it good for the planet?

Originally Posted by Startz View Post
But consider a world in which debt facilitates additional production. The lenders receive more than they lent, and then eat the excess leaving just enough to lend out again next year. Next year debt begins at exactly the same level as it did this year.
This assumes a closed economy where all of the interest payments find their way back into circulation again. The idea that the lenders "eat the excess leaving just enough to lend out again next year" is idealistic. There are more ways to accumulate and consume wealth than just stuffing it down your throat.

In an open economy where at least some of the interest payments disappear down a black hole, debt will rise exponentially as long as businesses are able to increase production and find consumers for their product.
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Old 11th June 2019, 10:32 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
In this case, the lender accumulates more wealth, which he will lend to another farmer, increasing his need to produce.
Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
But is it good for the planet?


This assumes a closed economy where all of the interest payments find their way back into circulation again. The idea that the lenders "eat the excess leaving just enough to lend out again next year" is idealistic. There are more ways to accumulate and consume wealth than just stuffing it down your throat.

In an open economy where at least some of the interest payments disappear down a black hole, debt will rise exponentially as long as businesses are able to increase production and find consumers for their product.
Ah, maybe we don't disagree that much. Certainly, most modern economies do grow.

The "Is it good for the planet" part is a different question...probably the most critical question we face.
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Old 11th June 2019, 06:18 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Startz View Post
Ah, maybe we don't disagree that much. Certainly, most modern economies do grow.
I should hope not. Otherwise, I would have to stop looking forward to your posts.

Originally Posted by Startz View Post
The "Is it good for the planet" part is a different question...probably the most critical question we face.
That seems to be the topic of this thread. Can we have an economy where individuals re-use and recycle instead of consume and discard?
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Old 11th June 2019, 09:04 PM   #24
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There is a point of balance. Joe Sixpack won't be harvesting gold off circuit boards in his back yard. He may be keeping and old truck or tractor alive as long as possible but then he is not in a position to be buying a new truck every four years to haul firewood.

Each product dictates it's own useful life span, a farm tractor is decades and a phone about two years.

Unless a fool like me comes along and seeks five year old phones because I get old models from top brands at new off brand base model prices, or less.

But one of me isn't going to offset the thousands of others that do change phones about yearly.

Cars barely run two days after the warranty expires now so that is factory designed to ensure one buys a new car. Old ones won't pass smog and the used market is thinner than decades passed.

Laws won't even let you drive a seven year old car in some major cities now. Even if it passes smog.
Older cars get recycled in greater numbers with laws like that, and new car sales are boosted.

The challenge is finding that point of balance for new goods to sell and to get old stuff either a secondary use or back to raw materials in a cost effective manner.

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Old 12th June 2019, 07:40 PM   #25
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We have more than enough people to produce food, cars, clothes (as is evident by the wasted new products, food waste, and landfill).

Technology means everything is becoming more efficient and productive: energy, agriculture, recycling, sustainability, design, food distribution.

Design efficient things that last. (Cars, phones).

More productivity and efficiency (circular economy) of food and things and medical treatment (and stable population growth> better distribution > UBI or Universal Basic Needs.

UBN.

Disclaimer: better politics and oversight required too, to avoid Soviet food lines e.g.
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Old 12th June 2019, 08:44 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Orphia Nay View Post
Disclaimer: better politics and oversight required too, to avoid Soviet food lines e.g.
That's the rub. Until we have an economic system that doesn't mandate mindless consumption, all that you have posted will be just a dream.
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Old 12th June 2019, 08:56 PM   #27
The Great Zaganza
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I want Machines managing our economy.
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Old 12th June 2019, 09:37 PM   #28
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Not those, these.
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Old 12th June 2019, 09:44 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
Not those, these.
What kind of Superintelligences do you usually have here?
Oh, we got both kinds, Minds and Machines.
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Old 13th June 2019, 12:47 AM   #30
Orphia Nay
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
That's the rub. Until we have an economic system that doesn't mandate mindless consumption, all that you have posted will be just a dream.
https://www.theguardian.com/commenti...ng-new-zealand

"Yet last week, New Zealand broke new ground by eschewing GDP in favour of wellbeing as a guiding indicator when setting budgets and assessing government policy. Bids to the Treasury for money from now on will not only need a cost-benefit analysis, but an assessment of their wellbeing impact. Decisions about spending will be made on the basis of a project’s contribution to the wellbeing of the population, measured through four dimensions: human capital; social capital; natural capital; and financial and physical capital. It follows the Welsh government’s innovative Well-being of Future Generations Act, which places a legal requirement on public bodies in Wales to think about the long-term social, cultural, environmental and economic wellbeing impact of their decisions."

See also Bhutan's "Gross National Happiness".
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gross_National_Happiness

"While Harvey remains “hopeful” about the government’s commitment to helping the country’s most vulnerable people, he remains concerned that structural change – such as the introduction of a capital gains tax – have been ruled out by Ardern.

“I agree with putting money into a wellbeing budget but they are periphery things,” says Harvey. “This country is run by the rich to exploit the poor and lets face it, and say it, and plan for it.”

Robertson admits inter-generational transformation will take decades, but the building blocks of changing New Zealanders lives from the bottom up have now been put in place."

https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...llbeing-budget


I think we're in a period of transition towards my "dream".

It could all happen eventually by happening gradually, and in fact, it does seem to be.

I remember my father with his head in his hands when he first heard David Suzuki tell the world about the need to recycle plastic and paper, in 1986.

I remember when our suburban recycling collection began in 1988.

This week, I've bought recyclable food packaging, and biodegradable sticky tape, pen, and document wallets. I've signed up to be notified about new stock of compostable shoes. My father wouldn't have believed that.

I've been reading a lot about the boom in recycling/sustainable industry and manufacturing.

There's your economic growth (at least for now) until the dream takes greater shape.
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Old 15th June 2019, 06:35 PM   #31
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https://businessfinland.fi/en/whats-...onomy-success/

"These are exciting times in the development of the circular economy in Finland. As the first country in the world to publish national road maps for the circular economy and plastics, Finland has resolutely signalled its commitment to a more sustainable future – aiming be a global circular economy leader by 2025. Now the ambition is starting to turn into reality as many Finnish companies, cities and municipalities, research institutions, universities and schools are increasingly engaged in the circular economy transformation."

"Finland's growing circular economy is constantly creating new business opportunities. The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra estimates that Finland's circular economy can generate EUR 2–3 billion in added value each year by 2030. According to Sitra, Finnish expertise in digitalization, artificial intelligence and robotics will also contribute to making the circular economy more efficient.

"Today only 1% of municipal waste in Finland ends up in a landfill site and about 90% of beverage packaging is recycled."

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