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Waste as a Component of Responsible Investing (RI)


​You want your money to work for you the way you earned it — diligently, and with integrity rooted in your values. Putting your investment to work in such a way that’s accountable and ethical is called Responsible Investing (RI).

RI incorporates environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into your investment portfolio. These portfolios include stocks and bonds with brands that value sustainability, human rights, good working conditions, employee diversity, resource conservation and other factors. These brands are constantly vetted by fund managers, who are active shareholders and represent your interests inside the company, giving you a voice. 

The 21st century waste management challenge

By 2050, with a population approaching nine billion, global waste production is expected to increase by as much as 70 per cent. With most of the world’s population living in cities, this means an opportunity to capture waste material that’s already centralized, converting it into new, repurposed product. It’s a cycle, rather than a straight line ending in a landfill.

With 80 per cent of all ocean plastics originating from one industry and just five rivers — alternatives to existing processes and materials can quickly make an enormous difference. However, tackling this challenge requires capital, technology, infrastructure, and alternative materials to the existing supply chain. 

More efficient manufacturing

The average consumer item, from a cell phone to a spatula, uses less material to manufacture and significantly less energy to transport than at the beginning of this century. So even though there’s more “stuff," the “stuff” weighs less, and is often designed to be more easily disassembled or recycled — particularly where rare minerals are concerned, such as the recapture of gold in consumer electronics.

Better tracking of waste and energy

The primary burden for addressing the waste crisis is not on household consumers, but on industry and manufacturers. This is why the greatest social, environmental and financial returns will be on those offering industries the solutions needed to reduce their overall footprint. Ultimately, this problem is solved as much by hardware and software as it is by bioplastics.

Advanced materials technology

Some of the more evident problems of waste involve the obvious materials such as commercial fishing nets and consumer packaging. These tend to be made from petroleum and continue to cause problems as they slowly decay in an ecosystem. Yet organic plastics occur all the time in nature, and while durable for a period of time, easily decompose and actually add nutrients to the environment.

As we mimic these plant-based forms, we can introduce a less toxic alternative into the supply chain, so that those goods which escape capture can decompose harmlessly.

Recapture/recycling infrastructure

Ultimately, addressing the waste management increase is going to come down to regulatory and legislative commitment to build out infrastructure. These represent significant engineering, transportation and technology contracts for innovators — and promising returns for investors. 

The solutions to the waste crisis overlap with the other pillars of RI as an investment strategy, along with agriculture, water and alternative energy. There are many jumping-off points for exploration and discussion and the winwin EarthLink GIC is a great place to start.

Discover the market potential that’s a natural fit for your investments and your values. To explore how Responsible Investing can be a component of your financial strategy, connect with one of our accredited, trusted advisors or email us.