As RCBC begins to focus up the waste reduction hierarchy and towards the diversion potential of reuse, I’m looking forward to the conversations that will take place at #RCBC2017. Over the past year, I’ve seen many creative entrepreneurs adapt business models to emerging sources of materials. Wood is an obvious one. A City of Vancouver initiative to divert construction, demolition, and renovation waste has created an opportunity for entrepreneurs to source valuable timber from houses slated for takedown. One of the first to take advantage of this resource was Adam Corneil and his company Naturally Crafted Contracting. Adam has developed a long and impressive list of projects centered around recovered wood as the primary project material. He has created stand-alone furniture and feature pieces while incorporating the wood into renovation work with a unique custom look. According to his estimates, there is potentially millions of dollars in economic activity within soon-to-be-replaced homes in Vancouver.
His success makes me wonder what other opportunities we can identify, as I am interested in the creation of regional economic opportunities with locally collected materials. So here's an idea: What if we look at both the waste streams from traditional sectors as well as the expected flow of materials coming from future EPR programs that cover the remaining products on the Canadian Council of Ministers of Environment's nationwide action plan list? What can we do locally with building materials, furniture, mattresses, textiles, and carpet? Will we see non-profits set up social enterprises to help people develop job skills by remaking and rebuilding furniture pieces out of recovered wood and metals? Perhaps we will see textiles repurposed in ways never imagined for old clothes. Or maybe there will be demand for a resource stream from an existing stewardship agency that currently has trouble recycling or processing the material locally. If the economy of scale becomes worthwhile for the investment for new infrastructure, business models could incorporate secondary opportunities to create new products from these waste streams, right here in BC.
That future may not be so far ahead of us. I hope you'll start thinking creatively so that we have the opportunity to exchange ideas at RCBC 2017, this June 21-23 at the Westin in Whistler, because your ideas are how we will reduce and eliminate waste, and through innovations in how we apply circular economy principles. Hope to see you there.