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Time for infinity recycling

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Infinity recycling – an idea produced by circular economy thinking may just become the norm, especially as our economy is run by a ‘take-make-dispose’ approach that generates a huge amount of waste, writes TIM PLENDERLEITH of Aurecon.

Who ever said ‘happily ever after’ was just the stuff of fairytales?

These days those words are written into the soles of Lionel Messi’s cleats. (Or at least, that’s the idea.) The “Sport Infinity” range by sports apparel company Adidas uses worn-out cleats and, by combining them with scrap materials from other industries, reimagines them into high quality new shoes. “The football boots of the future could contain everything from carbon used in aircraft manufacturing to fibres of the boots that scored during the World Cup,” Adidas said in a statement.

It’s called infinity recycling – one of the many good ideas wrought by circular economy thinking – and it may just be the Sunday game norm someday.

With three billion new middle-class consumers expected to enter global markets in the next 15 years, we can expect three billion more hungry appetites for the resources and infrastructure required to meet their lifestyle demands.

Currently, our economy is run by a ‘take-make-dispose’ linear approach that generates a breathtaking amount of waste. According to Richard Girling’s book Rubbish!, 90% of the raw materials used in manufacturing don’t even make it out the factory doors, while 80% of products made are thrown away within the first six months of their life cycle. The resource crunch is more like a suffocation, with our incriminating fingerprints all over the planet’s throat. The extractive industry’s approach is unsustainable – raw materials are being depleted quicker than they can regenerate.

The circular economy may be a highly practical solution to our planet’s burgeoning woes. The idea behind a circular economy is to rethink and redesign the way we make stuff. Rather than ditching your worn-out old jeans, send them into the factory for recycling and upgrade to a new pair. Done with your old iPhone 5? Reconsider buying the Puzzlephone, which can be easily disassembled, repaired and upgraded over a ten-year lifespan.

In the circular economy, products are not downgraded, as they are in recycling, but reimagined to infuse the same, if not more, value back into the system. Basically, there’s no such thing as waste in a circular system – all waste bears the raw materials to become something else. By finding fresh, creative ways to use the same resources, a one-way death march to unsustainable collapse is inadvertently avoided.

Could we halt the downward spiral by using waste to solve the waste crisis?

With McKinsey rolling out projections as high as $1 trillion to gain from a closed-loop economy, circularity seems to have our ‘thumbs up’ in principle. The truth is however, we are a far cry from adopting its practical reality in our design-distribution streams. So how will we get there? If the circular economy is indeed the way of the future, what needs to change now to usher it in? Could the circular economy define the end of the extractive industry as we know it?

We have to believe in a new buying power

The Kingfisher Group has much to say on the future shift in consumerism, and they’re using power tools to say it. Rather than buying that drill that is used on average six minutes in a year, why not rent it for the day? Surely it would be better value for money on that rare occasion when a hinge is loose?

Their company, along with others like Mud Jeans and Philips, are paving the way for new ideology and design around products and how we relate to them. Consumerism is moving to stewardship, with the emphasis on service over product acquisition. So, in other words, the ‘pay per use’ contractual agreements associated with smartphones could extend to washing machines, DIY equipment or even Levi jeans. Access, not ownership, to a product will be the new trading power. This will launch fantastic new intelligent systems to undergird the process.

But it will firstly require a good deal of unlearning and open-mindedness for us who have been immersed in linear thinking.

We have to up our game

Within the former linear structure, sales were the success markers. Manufacturing and design simply had to align just enough to make the product sparkle, shine and ultimately sell. They didn’t have to consider the total fossil fuel emission of production or its biodegradability in landfill. The product’s recyclability was not in question. It was only the swipe of the credit card.

A circular economy, however, is really complex. It accounts for a product’s entire life cycle in its design. Systems-level redesign and skills we haven’t yet imagined will be needed in order to recall, repair and reincarnate products into an upgraded former self. Rapid innovation will generate IoT platforms and seamless technologies into new services and product offerings.

The need for ongoing research and development will drive STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) disciplines. We need to prepare for these complexities, so that the added layers of life cycles are anticipated in tomorrow’s briefs and an egg-on-face situation is narrowly averted.

We have to collaborate

Circular solutions will only realise sustainable, future-proofed ecosystems if everybody is on board. Perhaps even more important than the engineers and designers, governance and regulation are crucial in endorsing these processes. Redesigning supply chains and business models require robust round-table discussions between businesses, universities, social groups and policymakers.

Initiatives such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Circular Economy 100 embraces this idea that closed-loop ambitions can never be achieved by working in isolation. This group ties together supply chain leaders, industries and geographies. From designers to academics, CEOs to city mayors, people are locking heads and sharing their complementary expertise. The result of which is a more effective and holistic solution that generates wins for both the planet and our pockets.

Linear thinking can’t meet the needs of the emerging circular economy. However, all is not lost. Draw a straight line long enough and it would actually envelop the globe, paradoxically making a circle. What we need is linear thinkers to be open-minded to extrapolate their thinking out far enough in order to, ultimately, draw the same conclusion – that a circular approach is actually where all roads lead. Going forward, drawing circles around our consumer behaviour may be the best way to draw the line.

* Tim Plenderleith, Market Director for Manufacturing at Aurecon.

 

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AppDate: Prepare for space

In this week’s AppDate, SEAN BACHER highlights Space Nation Navigator, Hitman Sniper, Snake Mask, Memrise, WhatsApp Web, and Carrot Weather.

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Space Nation Navigator

Space Nation Navigator is a bit of a strange app. It is part game, part exercise and part educational. On the game side, users have to navigate the Mars Rover, put the International Space Station back into orbit or move their Martians to safety before a sand storm hits Mars. When it comes to exercise, Space Nation Navigator provides users with a range of exercises and Yoga videos to prepare them for space travel and working in an anti-gravity environment. The education aspect teaches users about the planets, and star constellations, and then offers quizzes on what has been taught.

Platform: Android and iOS

Cost: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Memrise

Memrise takes a new approach to help people learn new languages. Instead of providing a user with random phrases and words to memorise, the app connects you with a person already fluent in the language you want to learn. In turn, the person you are speaking to wants to learn the language in which you are fluent. Once your profile is filled out and languages selected, it connects you with people around the world who are interested in your language, and then allows you to chat with them in real-time. Memrise also lets one learn new languages through games, chatbots and grammarbots that help with spelling, tenses and pronunciations.

Platform: Android and iOS

Cost: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Hitman Sniper

Hitman Sniper is loosely based on the Agent 47 movie released a few years ago. The game offers players the ability to hone their shooting skills through a range of training courses and, once they think they are ready, they can start taking out the bad guys. Things start off easy enough, but they get more and more difficult as one progresses through the 150 missions on offer. One will also have to upgrade various gun components, like scopes, magazine capacities and silencers, to make the missions a little easier. Hitman Sniper lets users buy 16 to tackle each of the missions – either with real money or via the points accumulated by completing missions. Money and points can also be used to upgrade firearms.

Platform: Android and iOS

Cost: R7 – with a range of in-app purchases.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Snake Mask

The iconic Snake game that was preinstalled on most older Nokia phones has had a complete make-over. It now uses Facebook’s AR technology, meaning that you have to navigate the snake around obstacles in your home or office, all the while collecting coins and stars that change the snake’s speed and length. Unfortunately, Snake Mask is only available on Nokia’s new range of smartphones. However, it should not take long before it slithers onto other devices.

 

Platform: New Nokia smartphones running Android.

Cost: Free to use through the Facebook app installed on the device.

Stockists: Available through the Facebook app.

 

WhatsApp Web

Although this is by no means a new app, it is an extremely useful one, and one that not many people know about. Tapping out WhatsApps on your phone is easy enough, but thanks to WhatsApp Web it can be even easier. Open the WhatApp Web page under WhatsApp and you will see a QR code. Scan this code through WhatsApp on your mobile and you will be shown a replica of what you would normally see on your phone. You can then type and reply to messages using your computer instead of having to stop everything and unlock your phone every time a message comes through. WhatsApp Web is great if you share your computer with other people as it automatically disconnects when the browser is closed. However WhatsApp also offers an app that when installed will stay connected to your phone unless you manually remove it.

 

Platform: Any up-to-date Internet browser

Cost: Free to use and install

Stockists: Visit www.WhatsApp.com

 

Carrot Weather

There are thousands of weather apps on the Internet these days and all of them do the same thing – inform you of the weather in your area. However, Carrot Weather has taken what is just another app and turned it into something fun. By fun, I mean sarcastic, rude and completely politically incorrect. A user starts off by selecting religious and political views. It then asks about personality, ranging from friendly to homicidal to overkill – which includes profanity. So, for instance, instead of waking up to to the standard partly cloudy forecast, Carrot Weather will display something like: “It’s only partly sunny, the sun is a total effing failure.” It also has a range of insults that it throws at you whenever you open the app – some of them downright insulting, so it is definitely not for those who are easily offended. The app’s user interface is very simple, displaying a week’s daily forecast and hourly forecasts for the day selected.

Platform: Android and iOS

Cost: Free to download but with adverts. The premium, advert free version costs R12 per month.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

* Sean Bacher is editor of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @SeanBacher

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SA Start-up reinvents PABX

For any South African business, the idea of setting up or changing a telephonic switchboard system is the stuff of nightmares. Dealing with expensive hardware and hearing things like QSIG and VOIP is not what you’d call exciting.But now there is an app.

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Enter BuzzBox (www.buzzboxcloud.co.za), a web-based telephone switchboard that is aimed at small and medium sized businesses wanting to take the hassle and cost out of the company switchboard. Whether you are a small one-man operation or a larger organisation with staff working remotely, BuzzBox is the best switchboard solution.

What sets BuzzBox apart from anything else on the market is its easy-to-use dashboard. It puts you in control of everything from picking your phone number to setting up voice prompts and managing your business-hours schedule.

BuzzBox was developed when the startup behind it, Jini-Guru, needed such a service for its own use across multiple continents. “When we started Jini-Guru we could not find a seamless online process that would allow us to set up a full web-based switchboard, so we decided to build one for ourselves,” says Mike Smits, Director at Jini-Guru.

He says a lot of startups today are tech savvy and know how to use apps and the services that go with it. “It’s the uberisation of services and its driving demand for instant service activation.”

BuzzBox works as an app on both iOS and Android but users wanting a desk phone option can choose from a variety of devices on offer or use their existing VOIP phones.

Setting up a BuzzBox account takes 5 minutes. During registration your FICA documents are uploaded [ID and proof or residence] and you get to pick your phone number before the account is created. Companies that want to keep an existing number can do so too.

The real magic happens when you log on to the BuzzBox Dashboard. The main screen displays a summary of statistics for your account while the left-hand menu provides you quick access to various configuration settings and reports.

Setting up new extensions or external numbers is done with a few clicks and you can even set up various departments which is a great way to route a call to various people in a department, like sales or support.

The intuitive user interface also makes it easy to set up hold-music and voice prompts. You can add voice prompts by recording them straight to your phone, just make sure you use a clear voice with quiet surroundings for the best customer experience.

One of the main features of BuzzBox is its call recording feature that allows an organisation to record calls for legislative purposes, such as a lawyer, or for customer service purposes such as support. Recordings are stored securely online, and you have the ability to download recordings for playback. Companies can opt-in for this service and it’s free to use. Recordings are stored online and are fully encrypted so only you can listen to, or download them. Storage costs R1 for every 1000 minutes of stored recordings.

Other features include call forwarding and scheduling. The latter allows you to set office hours for your organisation which will divert calls to an after-hours messaging service. You also have the option to enable routing to an employee who is on call after hours.

BuzzBox also has a reseller program for companies wanting to offer this as a switchboard solution to their existing customers.

The costs for this service is R89 p/m for the first phone number which includes your first extension for free. Thereafter you’ll pay R89p/m per extension. Calls between extensions are free but you pay per second for all outgoing phone calls. More info on pricing can be found here: https://buzzboxcloud.co.za/pricing/

BuzzBox is offering a Launch promotion where they are offering the first line and extension free for 12 months. Only pay for calls. Use promo code “feoifyaa” during sign-up to apply your discount.

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