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Sustainable Development through Biologically-based Systems




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Sustainable Development through Biologically-based Systems Richard White Environmental Science and Policy Program Smith College May 23, 2003 Sustainable Development: meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs • Economic — steady flow of goods & services • Environmental — stable resource base • Social — equitable sharing of wealth “We must stop expecting the earth to produce more, but start doing more with what the earth produces.” “Humankind is the only species on the planet capable of generating waste no one wants.” Gunter Pauli, Upsizing ZERI: Zero Emissions Research & Initiatives ZERI is a practical approach to satisfying humanity's needs for water, food, energy, jobs, shelter and more, in an environmentally sustainable manner, by applying science and technology and involving government, business and academia. ZERI: Zero Emissions Research & Initiatives • Zero Emissions: eliminating the concept of waste • Research: discovering novel and environmentally sound ways to use presently wasted material, capital, and human resources to meet critical human needs for water, food, health care, shelter, energy, and jobs • Initiatives: applying these ideas in real-world projects on 5 continents Biologically-based Systems • Meet people’s needs starting with local resources and co-evolving with nature • Treat waste as a business opportunity (“food”) • Use all the kingdoms of nature (pathogens that afflict one kingdom do not damage others) • Build and optimize systems that reduce/eliminate waste with value-added and new jobs at each step ZERI Origins: Gunter Pauli • Founder & Director of ZERI Foundation (Geneva, 1996) • Economist & Entrepreneur: former president and CEO of ECOVER • Author of 7 books, including Upsizing: The Road to Zero Emissions (1998) • Recipient of numerous environmental and business awards Developing Country Example: Coffee Farm in Colombia • Problem: coffee prices don’t compensate production costs • Opportunity: coffee cherries comprise just 3% of the plant biomass; brewed coffee has less than 0.3% Developing Country Example: Coffee Farm in Colombia • Mushrooms grown on coffee waste increase food supply • Spent mushroom substrate expands and improves feed for domestic animals • Biodigesting animal wastes creates biogas and nutrient rich wastewater • The ecosystem provides still other options; all add value and stability Developed Country Example: Recycled Cement Plant in Sweden Inputs Outputs • Abandoned cement plant — brownfield • Municipal Waste • ZERI technology • Enhanced recycling • Biogas heating • Organic compost for agriculture & forestry • Organic produce • Site remediation • 75% waste reduction • Jobs • Profits Universal Example: Breweries Wildwood Ecobrewery Project, Missoula, MT • Breweries adopting ZERI principles now operate in Namibia, Canada, and Japan. • Brewing typically produces 5-10 times more waste water than beer. • Likewise, brewing uses only about 10% of the grain biomass, leaving nutrient- (and fiber)-rich residues. Used as animal feed, they lead to excessive flatulance and contribute to global warming.






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