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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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Deezer to host Hotstix’s Mandela tribute playlist

Deezer is celebrating Nelson Mandela on the centenary of his birthday by hosting a tribute playlist created by music legend Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse.  

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Mabuse, a legendary figure in African music, first rose to prominence in the 1970s with his band Harari and later developed a name for himself as a solo artist. One of his best known songs was the global hit BurnOut in the 1980s.

The playlist takes the listener on a captivating musical journey through the life of Nelson Mandela.  It was compiled by Mabuse, who consulted with Mandela’s family and friends to ensure that the music would be relevant and accurate. The playlist also features commentary by Mabuse, which was recorded in his Soweto home.  

“I have tried to tell the story of the music that Madiba loved,” says Mabuse. “The Playlist excludes the time in prison obviously, as Madiba would not have had exposure to music in that time.  We have focused on the music we know he loved before and after that period. This recording was really an emotional journey for me, but an incredible opportunity to document these memories.”

The playlist features the music the young Mandela loved, such as The Manhattan Brothers, Solomon Linda, Brenda Fassie and Miriam Makeba.  It includes struggle songs from Chicco, Johnny Clegg, Hugh Masekela and Yvonne Chaka Chaka.  The playlist also includes Mandela by Zahara, one of the younger artists who caught Madiba’s ear.

Mabuse also offers stories of his own songs, such as Shikisha, a song greatly beloved by the former President.

“I was delighted to share my thoughts and hope the listeners enjoyed the musical journey,” says Mabuse. “Madiba did enjoy music immensely and we all have a purpose wherever we are in the world to celebrate culture and to learn from different cultures and music forms and styles.”

This playlist was inspired by the Nelson Mandela 100 campaign, calling on corporates and individuals to act as sources of inspiration and engage in conversation and action.

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Sports streaming takes off

Live streaming of sports is coming of age as a mainstream method of viewing big games, as the latest FIFA World Cup figures from the UK show. Africa isn’t yet at the same level when it comes to the adoption of sports streaming, but usage is clearly moving in the right direction.

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England’s World Cup quarter-final against Sweden was watched by just under 20 million viewers in the UK via BBC One. While this traditional broadcast audience was huge, it was streaming that broke records: the game was the BBC’s most popular online-viewed live programme ever, with 3.8 million views. In Africa, the absolute numbers are lower but the trend towards streaming major sports events on the continent is also well under way.

According to DStv, live streaming of sports dominates the usage figures for its live and recorded TV streaming app, DStv Now. The number of people using the app in June was five times higher than a year ago, with concurrent views peaking during major football and rugby games.

Since the start of the World Cup, average weekday usage of DStv Now is up 60%. The absolute peak in concurrent usage for one event was reached on 26 June, during the Nigeria vs Argentina game. The app’s biggest ever test was on 16 June with both Springbok Rugby and World Cup Football under way at the same time, resulting in concurrent in-app views seven times higher than the peaks seen in June last year.

The World Cup has also been a major reason for new users to download and try out the app. First-time app user volumes have tripled on Android and doubled on iOS since the start of the tournament.

“While we expected live sports streaming to take off, it’s also been pleasing to see that the app is really popular for watching shows on Catch Up,” says MultiChoice South Africa Chief Operating Officer Mark Rayner. “Interestingly, some of the most popular Catch Up shows are local, with Isibaya, Binnelanders, The Queen and The River all getting a significant number of views.”

With respect to app usage, the web and Android apps are the most popular way to watch DStv Now, with Android outpacing iOS by a factor of 2:1.

“We’re continuing to develop DStv Now, with 4k streaming in testing and smart TV and Apple TV apps on their way shortly,” says Rayner. “The other key priority for us is working with the telcos to deliver mobile data propositions that make watching online painless and worry-free for our customers.”

The DStv Now app is free to all 10 million DStv customers in Africa. The app streams DStv live channels as well as supplying an extended Catch Up library. Two separate streams can be watched on different devices simultaneously, and content can also be downloaded to smartphones and tablets. The content available on the app varies according to the DStv package subscribed to.

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