From waste to opportunity: Over 20 companies launch new project to scale up material reuse across US facilities

The National Materials Marketplace is a new joint pilot project led by the Corporate Eco Forum (CEF), US Business Council for Sustainable Development (US BCSD), and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). 

Published: 7 Jul 2015
Type: News

Geneva, San Francisco, Austin, 8 July 2015  Bringing together more than 20 major companies with operations in the United States, the project will help participants identify ways to reuse or exchange undervalued materials via an online database, and establish new circular supply chains.

“The increasing pressure on our natural resources sends a clear message: we need to find value in discarded materials. Growing cross-industry collaboration for the efficient use of our resources is promising. This opens up new business opportunities while creating economic, environmental, and societal benefits,” says Andrew Mangan, Executive Director of US BCSD.

“The Materials Marketplace project is a key step towards the shift to a circular economy - one where waste becomes the new engine for creating value,” says Peter Bakker, President and CEO of the WBCSD.

“Unlocking business-to-business reuse opportunities ensure effective waste management and deliver integrated benefits.”

The potential benefits of matching material and by-product waste streams with opportunities for reuse are massive. In recent years, General Motors has generated nearly $1 billion in annual revenue through reusing and recycling its by-products. By finding reuse and recycling options for this material, GM avoided over 10 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions in 2014.

"Material management is a business opportunity, not just a cost-reduction strategy," adds John Bradburn, GM’s Global Manager of Waste Reduction. “We have to reach the stage where by-products are viewed the same way we view product development – part of constant improvement and innovation.”

The Marketplace is a unique collaboration among the three business associations. Originally conceived at a CEF member meeting, the idea gained momentum with the support of early advocates including GM and Nike. The national pilot builds upon a similar regional project in Austin, Texas, as well as other “by-product synergy” projects in North America, China and the United Kingdom over the past 20 years.

Amy O’Meara, Director of the Corporate Eco Forum explains: “US BCSD’s expertise and software were exactly what our members were looking for. And joining forces with USBCSD and WBCSD was a natural fit, given the significant complementarity of our memberships. By leveraging each of our organizations’ strengths, we can deliver increased value to participating companies.”

By joining the pilot, participating businesses benefit from:

  • Lower operational costs due to cheaper feedstock and reduced waste disposal costs
  • Reduced carbon footprint owing to major cuts in energy use and GHG emissions
  • Reduced environmental footprint by avoiding waste disposal and raw material purchase
  • Enhanced social and economic impact through new business opportunities and jobs
  • Improved corporate reputation through the reporting of reuse activities and diversion of waste streams for productive purposes
  • A collaborative and dynamic business network allowing for exploration of new pathways for materials with other like-minded colleagues.

Lessons learned from the pilot will be used to scale up materials reuse projects worldwide, notably through the WBCSD’s Global Network of national business councils.

Participating companies include: 3M; Armstrong World Industries; CH2M; Eastman Chemical; Essroc – Italcementi Group; Holcim-Geocycle; Fairmount Santrol; General Motors; Nike; Novelis – Aditya Birla Group; The Dow Chemical Company; Tetra Pak Inc.; Swisstrax; Systech; and many others.

For more information, please contact:

Irge Olga Aujouannet
WBCSD Communications
+41 22 839 3129              

Daniel Kietzer
US BCSD Communications 
+1 512-964-5401

Amy O’Meara
Corporate EcoForum
+1 857-222-8270

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