The environment we live in possesses a limited amount of resources-too limited for the luxury to identify any substance a “of no use.” We have created a waste system that continues to extract resources from its environment and has completely removed itself from the stewardship that comes along with the benefits of those resources. Throughout the lifecycle of many of our modern accoutrements there is an irresponsible approach to how we acquire, manipulate, distribute, consume and return our resources that has overestimated nature’s capacity to take back those resources.
This misalignment is most clearly depicted in Kneechtel’s reading where the Operations Management procedures of Carlton Farms and Pine Tree Acres, two immense waste management facilities in Michigan poised to accept waste internationally. What we have here, is waste being treated as a commodity- for economy rather than ecology, and the passage juxtaposes the economic benefits of their practice with stark images of the destructive reality of their practice. Mega-Landfills are being paid handsomely for packing away mountains of material- it is the proverbial rug that the rest of society brushes their unmentionables. Materials are perceived as static substances that can only be shuffled around rather than a temporal substance with potential.
The authors of Cradle to Cradle have dedicated their careers have developed a design process that takes into account the entire waste management stream. One of the key tenets of their process is to separate biological nutrients from technical nutrients whenever possible. Both categories, if left “pure” have great potential to be reused to make equally sophisticated products or easily returned to the environment to be consumed by microorganisms.
They applied this concept to the carpet companies and illustrated how this particular approach could benefit the environment as well as future sources of capital. They proposed a single base carpet that would initially be installed that had a detachable top. “Carpeting designed as a true technical nutrient would be made of safe materials designed to be truly recycled as raw material for fresh carpeting, and the delivery system for its service would cost the same or less than buying it” (McDonough, 113). Not only would the company be able to save money on raw materials by retaining ownership on their product and developing a long term relationship with their customer, there is a significant decrease in dead end waste.