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Interview With James Greyson| BlindSpot Think Tank | Pioneers & Changemakers

Interview With James Greyson , BlindSpot Think Tank

Organized at 2:30 PM GMT on 21st Jan, 2018


James Greyson, Social Media Waste Solution InfluencerJAMES GREYSON

Head of BlindSpot Think Tank

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Pioneers & Changemakers is be Waste Wise‘s weekly interview series through which changemakers and pioneers in the fields of waste, circular economy, sustainability and sanitation will provide you access to the latest thinking, their sheer wealth of experience and inspiration.



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Madhumitha Rajendran has summarized the panel discussion and put together a set of interesting quotes.


JAMES GREYSON,  BlindSpot Think Tank

I am the head of BlindSpot Think Tank, which I setup 10 years ago, to look beyond what the standard debates are around circular economy and other really big global problems that typically we as a society are not successful in solving. I wanted to look at what we are missing, and I call that blind spotting.

  • It ties to the nature of problems we face as a society, which are beyond obvious technical solutions and mistakes.
  • Our habit of thinking is the source of creating the problem- we feel reassured as a group, when everyone agrees that a particular solution is the way forward.
  • We do the reverse called shrinking thinking- where we try to look for the simplest and most obvious thing we can do, so that it gives the hope and sense of possibility that somewhere sometime, things are going to get better.
  • Blind spotting is a tool for collective survival, if we wish to continue living on this planet, waste, pollution and climate are the global problems, which are part of the package. I am not sure if the solutions we keep talking about are enough to encompass the problems.

In 1965, when circular economy was introduced by Kenneth Boulding, the total material requirement of the global economy was around 23 billion tons. That was the beginning of the thinking that we won’t be needing so much of resource in the future, as we would be looking after them well, and not waste them and turn it into pollution. Over 30 years, we know what the right thing is, as a society, but we still aren’t doing it. By 1995, we required 45 billion tons of resources from nature.

  • Every 10 years, we reassure ourselves with visions of circular economy, closed loop, etc. and reinvent the words, thinking that there is progress, because there are new words for the same idea we keep talking about.

Over the decades, there are more people engaged with more ecological or waste initiatives around the world. However that hasn’t affected the total material requirements, or a structural switch from a linear to a circular pattern. There’s a gap between what people are working on and what we should be achieving.

  • Since the linear economy is built into the structure of economics, a lot of people think that this is the way the world works.
  • You have to reinvent the structure of economics to change this thinking.
  • We haven’t got decades and decades to play with the problems of waste, pollution and climate anymore, and we must act now.

Pre-cycling is a concept from 1980s invented by Maureen O’Rourke in USA, that we can prevent it from becoming waste, by redesigning the product and materials, designing the collection system, pricing and finances, to ensure that something doesn’t end up as a waste. We could run the entire economy on pre-cycled products. Pre-cycling is the action of implementing the circular economy vision.

  • The cost of pre-cycling is linked to the cost of avoiding the waste risks, and this cost can be built into the price of the product.
  • The incentives which cause a product to be wasted would be reversed, and high waste products would be phased out by normal market economics.
  • For business people, it’s useful to look at the waste risk of products, and pre-cycling, and bring everyone into the conversation, rather than just the designers and sustainability experts.
  • If you are a Government, you can build it into the market economics, and into the pricing, and ensure that all countries implement on pre-cycling.
  • Over the decades, the waste hierarchy has typically been talked about as a strategic policy measure, the basis of every strategy, but when it comes to implementation, all the money, intellectual effort and time goes into the wrong end of the hierarchy- into incineration and disposal.

A product is either pre-cycled or not, and if it is not pre-cycled, it’s pre-wasted.

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