The Materials Book

45 15 Imagine a World without Waste What if waste did not exist? This sounds like a utopian idea in today’s economy, but waste as we know it is a relatively new concept. Waste is tied to the idea of consumption: commodities are purchased, used, and then discarded. A world of consumers has exploded the amount of waste and produced types of waste that would be unfamiliar to previous generations. Understanding that business as usual is not the natural order of things helps generate alternatives. Perhaps even just redefining the words we use to talk about material flows can also help redefine the infrastructures that produce and move materials. Eliminating the idea of waste suggests producing leaner, supplying better, mining the city, crossing loops, and exchanging building components. In short, it summarizes the idea of employing all strategies at once—nose-to-tail production (no waste in the production stream), reuse (circular within one sector), and cradle-to- cradle (looping between sectors, upcycling and downcycling) —while also providing a larger vision for all of them.