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Part three: Implementation

10. Industrial clusters of the twenty-first century
11. Living machines

10. Industrial clusters of the twenty-first century

Zero defects, zero inventory, zero emissions
Front-end solutions versus end-of-the-pipe solutions
Economies of scale
Will Japan embrace the zero concept?
The new clusters
Recycling of ink and paper
Forestry, perfumes, and preservatives
Sugar, cleansing materials, water softeners and compostable plastics
Beer, salmon, and cattle
More to come
Rethinking industrial policies
Cuffing government costs
Revitalizing the inner cities
The case of China
The role of the United Nations University

Gunter Pauli

Throughout this book we have discussed the challenge for business to survive and flourish at a time when the industrialized world is going through a dramatic change of paradigms, from a mechanistic to an ecological world view, from a value system emphasizing expansion, competition, and domination to one guided by conservation, cooperation, and partnership.

A paradigm is a constellation of concepts, perceptions, values, and practices shared by a community and embodied in its social institutions. In our modern era, technology has become one of the most important embodiments of the mechanistic paradigm. Throughout the industrialized world, individuals and institutions have become mesmerized by the wonders of modern technology and have come to believe that every problem has a technological solution. Whether the nature of the problem is political, psychological, or economic, the first reaction, almost automatically, is to deal with it by applying or developing some new technology.

We do not share this belief although we see technology as an important part of the move toward sustainability, and therefore we have left the discussion of new technologies to the last section of this book. Before we enter into the dialogue on new technologies, we should perhaps clarify the general meaning and purpose of technology.

Contrary to widespread belief, technology is never value-free, because it is defined as a means to a certain end. Good technology, by definition, is a proper means to a carefully considered end, and value judgments will be involved both in the selection of the end and in the decision of what constitutes proper means. In any society the technologies used will therefore embody the predominant paradigm.

Even a cursory look at our "high technologies" - military, medical, agricultural, or any other - shows clearly that they embody the mechanistic paradigm and associated value system. They are fragmented rather than integrative, designed for manipulation and control rather than cooperation and partnership, and suitable for centralized management rather than regional application by individuals and small groups. As a result, these technologies have become profoundly anti-ecological, antisocial, unhealthy, and inhuman.

Moreover, technology in our era has become autonomous and totalitarian, redefining our basic concepts, eliminating alternative worldviews, and subjugating all forms of cultural expression. In today's "high-tech" world, progress is no longer understood as the improvement of human well-being but is glibly identified with technological innovation.

Thus the first step in developing technologies that are ecologically sustainable must be to transform the very nature of technology from a totalitarian "megatechnology" to a tool, the use of which is restricted by cultural norms. This means that in any discussion of new technologies much thought should be given to their goals and purposes, as well as to whether a particular technology is the most appropriate means to the intended end.

When these considerations are applied to the task of steering business toward sustainability, it becomes clear that the technologies most appropriate for this purpose will embody the paradigm of deep ecology. In other words, they will reflect the wisdom of nature and incorporate the principles of ecology in their design.

One of the most outstanding principles of ecology is the cyclical nature of ecological processes. As Fritjof Capra pointed out in Chapter 1, the present clash between business and nature, between economics and ecology, is mainly due to the fact that nature is cyclical whereas our industrial systems are linear. In order to achieve ecological sustainability we must therefore fundamentally redesign our businesses and our economy so that they imitate the cyclical patterns observed in nature. Just as the wastes from one species are food for other species in an ecosystem, so one industry's waste must become another industry's resource in a sustainable business world.

This issue is taken up by Gunter Pauli in the present chapter. Pauli is a businessman who has established numerous companies, has business contacts in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas, and has traveled widely in all those parts of the world. His talent for spotting emerging trends, his solid business background, and his penchant for radical ecological solutions have allowed him to piece together a picture of emerging industrial clusters, patterned after natural ecological cycles, which is visionary and yet thoroughly pragmatic.

What do perfumes, food stabilizers, forestry, and beer brewing have in common? At first sight, little or nothing at all. What do paper and pulp, construction materials, packaging and printing ink have to do with each other? Nothing whatsoever, would one say. What does sugar share with detergents, water softeners and plastics? Absolutely nothing, one would argue at first sight. But, if you start analyzing the potential synergies between these sectors when their strategies and innovations are based on sustainable economic development, we are looking at the new clusters of industry for the 21st century.

Zero defects, zero inventory, zero emissions

Over the next decade, industry will have to re-engineer manufacturing and convert itself into a zero-emissions production system. After the quest for zero defects and zero inventory, zero emissions will become a standard objective for production engineers. This process of eliminating all forms of waste is nothing more than a persistent drive to cut costs. It will also give rise to an industrial integration quite distinct from the vertical integration traditionally sought after by industrial groupings. Sectors which seem to have little in common will become closely linked. Industrial policy makers will have to plan for a new form of industrial cooperation when targeting new investments.

Today, zero emissions production is considered impossible, or at least too expensive to be feasible under market conditions. But, though industry twenty years ago did not accept that it had to manufacture with perfect quality, i.e., zero defects, today it is clear to all actors in the market that unless one produces perfect quality, one cannot compete. Quality was first considered an extra cost, then it became profitable through lowered servicing costs, and gradually perfect quality became a competitive tool. Today, perfect quality is considered a precondition to market entry. Similarly, today few believe that zero emissions is feasible, but in twenty years it will be the standard.

Companies that wish to maintain their position in the market, build up their competitive edge, and maintain a solid image with their stake holders (clients, shareholders, local community) have embarked on programs to reduce waste. The drive towards energy efficiency certainly was the first necessary step, but environmental problems, widely highlighted in the international media, have motivated companies to go beyond a mere look at energy efficiency, sewage, and air pollution.

Front-end solutions versus end-of-the-pipe solutions

The internalization of many real costs of production, which now have to be borne by the polluter, has already made clear to many industrialists that it is better to reduce the cost of waste at the front end, than to have to cope with ever changing and complex environmental regulations and increasing burden of environmental taxes affecting the waste discharged "at the end of the pipe." But, while all this is to be applauded, a bolder step is needed to leapfrog in competitiveness. Industry must be willing to put its present selection of raw materials under scrutiny, rethink the manufacturing and distribution process, and be ready to engage in a search for zero emissions manufacturing.

Today industry depends heavily on raw materials which are not sustainable. We have evolved in a system where we know that several of the key input factors will not be available any more in twenty or thirty years. With the massive demand of six billion consumers today, and probably ten billion by the time the earth runs out of petroleum, there is a need to identify alternatives early on. The Club of Rome called for this long ago in the widely debated Limits to Growth report (1974).

The good news is that there are numerous opportunities to pursue alternatives, but unfortunately, these are not pursued with the vigor needed to convert our industries and consumption patterns to sustainable ones. However, the search for new materials offers a unique chance to re-engineer these innovations along sustainability lines.

Economies of scale

The manufacturing process is based on ever-increasing economies of scale. The search for ever lower marginal costs has resulted after forty years in a highly complex, capital-intensive, centralized, and in flexible production system which is very dependent on cheap forms of transportation. The break-even point of factories has increased by a factor of 50 to 100 over the past forty years. The re-engineering of industry which we are witnessing today includes even a further - and perhaps last - push towards concentration of production, which implies closing factories and laying off employees. This is not a sustainable form of industrial development.

Industry will have to redesign operations around a new type of economy of scale, probably tailored after the Coca-Cola approach, a prime example of sustainable industrial development designed with competitiveness in mind, not driven by the moral need to save mother earth.

Coca-Cola, without intending it, is a surprisingly good example of how sustainable development can be combined with highly decentralized production and a great capability to adapt to changing local market conditions.

High Economies of Scale

Appropriate Economies of Scale

The Procter & Gamble Approach

The Coca-Cola Approach

high capital intensive low capital intensive
high break-even point low break-even point
high risk low risk
slow response to change immediate response to change
complex to operate simple to operate
centralized controls decentralized decision making
difficult environmental stewardship sustainable production method
limited local partnership many local partnerships
reducing employment increasing employment
closing factories in the 90s opening factories in the 90s
RESULT: losing market share strengthening market share

The Coca-Cola bottling concept has not only evolved over a century into a corporate structure which is an example for the future, but it has rendered the company a clear leader in its business. Coca-Cola has strengthened its market position and continues to expand along the same line whereas another prime example in the fast-moving consumer goods market, Procter & Gamble, is closing 30 factories over the next four years and plans to lay off more than 10,000 employees in an effort to stem the loss of market share.

If manufacturing is based on a decentralized concept with lower levels of economies of scale, then it will be better equipped for global competition. It represents lower levels of capital investment, easier adaptation to changes in demand, and greater involvement of local capital. The lower level of economies of scale will facilitate environmental stewardship. After all, it is easier to take care of waste in a small operation than in a 10,000 employees, billion dollar turnover type of operation.

Will Japan embrace the zero concept?

Japanese industry, recognized for having forced the rest of the world to pay attention to the need for higher productivity, perfect quality, and just-in-time delivery of parts, seems ready to embrace this zero-emissions concept. After all, any form of waste is a sign of inefficiency. The economic grail of "minimum input - maximum output" will only be attained when there is "total throughput." There is room for dramatic improvement as long as any input factors are discarded.

Our economic system cannot be considered efficient, or ultimately competitive, if it generates waste. The concept of "from cradle to grave" actually accepts waste as a normal part of the process. Thus we embark on broad programs to recycle. This is the strategy applied today. There is a need to integrate a new concept, "from cradle to cradle." This is the strategy of tomorrow. All forms of waste must become the inputs and raw materials for another production cycle. After all, this is how nature disposes of its wastes, and this is the only way that we can secure a long term sustainable industrial process.

The new clusters

These developments and trends point to the emergence of new clusters of industry. A few concrete examples will clarify the argument. Take the case of de-inking and recycling of paper. No one will argue against the fact that the recycling of paper will become a growing industrial activity in the years ahead. Countries which have no paper and pulp industry of their own but are great consumers of paper will be driven particularly strongly towards the establishment of de-inking operations. Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and in the future China are most affected.

Recycling of ink and paper

De-inking today is a polluting, inefficient, and expensive process. Present de-inking technologies do not succeed in removing more than 65-70% of the ink particles from the wood fibers. That is the reason why recycled paper has a gray look. The waste created in the process of recycling is a toxic, useless mixture of ink, short fibers, and chemicals. It requires both primary and secondary treatment, and thus represents high capital investments. As a result of the inefficiencies of the system, recycled paper is more expensive and is of lower quality than new paper made from freshly cut trees, even when the raw material, used paper, is obtained free of charge.

Traditional Recycling Thinking

Zero Emissions Thinking

Recycle paper

Recycle ink and paper

inefficient: only 65% de-inking efficient: 100% recycling of ink
highly polluting: toxic sludge zero emissions: 100% re-use
highly capital intensive due to water treatment systems and bleaching lower capital needs
expensive to the consumer price competitive
replacing one problem with another problem total problem solving
no net economic effect creation of new industries

MISSING LINK: technology to separate ink from fiber

If a new technology were to be developed that permits the perfect and clean non-toxic separation of ink particles from the wood fibers, then we would see at once the emergence of several new industrial activities. A world of science and technology that is capable of cloning human genes and putting men on the moon should have the ingenuity to design a process that detaches ink from paper in an efficient way.

Such de-inking would offer three outputs: (1) ink which can be reused for printing, which actually means the recycling of ink; there is also an option to use this ink for pencils too often still based on lead, (2) long fibers completely void of residue ink and thus needing no further bleaching, ready to be remade into paper, and (3) a sludge of short fibers and residues from the process such as coating chemicals and clay. This sludge has numerous potential applications. It can be used in a dried pulpy form as a noise absorber, filling air in the inner walls separating two rooms. It is a construction material. As these dried fibers, mixed with the coating chemicals, are bacteria-resistant and of a quality approaching asbestos, other light-weight construction materials can be made from it. Ceiling tiles are a simple application.

MISSING LINK: ink separation technologies

The short fibers and the residue could also be transformed into packaging material which is shock absorbent and could replace styro-foam "peanuts." It could also be turned into egg packaging. In any case, the packaging industry would have an interest in it. This actually implies that the partial recycling of paper and the 100% recycling of ink leads to a cluster of four industries: paper, ink, construction materials, and packaging materials.

Cities, states and national governments pass laws requiring the use of recycled paper. But the policy makers have only a limited vision of the industries that it could actually create. Little if any attention is reserved for the technological breakthroughs that are needed to make the recycling economical and environmentally benign. Local governments, consumers and industry have embarked on often ambitious paper recycling programs. But, consider the positive impact on job creation, inner city development, and pollution prevention schemes that these initiatives and efforts will have once the technological breakthrough has been achieved.

Forestry, perfumes, and preservatives

A few additional examples will clarify the point of the new clusters and offer a preview of some of the most important ones. Take forestry, where extractive practices are under heavy legal and political pressure. The bitterness of the struggle has obscured great opportunities that are waiting to be tapped.

Felled trees are normally stripped of the green mass and branches at the place of logging. Several types of pine trees (not all) produce excellent perfume, leaf proteins, stabilizers (preservatives) for food processing, and a series of color pigments. The distillation process required to obtain these products is highly energy intensive. Small-scale on-site distillation units can utilize small wood debris for the needed heat energy. It is possible to produce, out of one ton of green mass, some 1-2 gallons of essential oils and stabilizers of varied quality, some of which are highly priced and command a price of US$ 100 a gallon.

MISSING LINK: distillation- and bio-technologies

The world market for synthetic perfumes is large and very profitable. But many synthetic perfumes are under scrutiny because these aromatic molecular structures are highly allergenic and are difficult to degrade. Natural perfumes are not significantly allergenic and biodegrade easily. In addition, demand for natural perfumes due to the rise in consumers' interest in aromatherapy is increasing rapidly. This leads to high prices for quality products. The mark-up for imported essential oils in Japan reached the incredible 100 mark, a proof of the lack of supply.

The same goes for the preservatives. Contemporary food processing is impossible without advanced forms of preservation. The use of chemical preservatives is under pressure for health and environmental reasons and numerous alternative forms of preservation are being sought. Pine trees have a remarkable ability to survive temperature extremes. Biologists know that several of their components are of great value, but the present abundant and cheap availability of synthetic materials has not opened the market for the natural alternative. This will change. An extraction method will offer the chance to isolate these natural substitutes for which over time there will be a strong demand. Additional research is necessary.

The world's forestry companies, logging approximately 45 million hectares annually, are certainly the most important potential producers of preservatives and essential oils. They have the raw material and the energy source. If a decentralized distillation system is put in place, i.e. the smallest possible economy of scale, this will not only be a major new business, it will also be a source of jobs which will need the expertise which can be drawn from the loggers and the foresters who know best the key resource for both industries. And, from a revenue point of view, the additional income earned by making use of what is considered waste today, could very well complement the turnover generated by the traditional mainstream businesses.

Sugar, cleansing materials, water softeners and compostable plastics

The sugar industry offers another exciting new cluster. Sugar is a world commodity, produced on all continents. But the present change in consumer preferences for low-calorie synthetic sweeteners has led to a massive oversupply on the world sugar markets. The price for this natural commodity has dropped below production cost. Numerous developing countries are suffering from a drop in foreign-exchange revenues. Whereas today sugar is mainly associated with food and, in Brazil, Hawaii, and other places with gasohol production or the generation of electricity by the burning of sugar-cane stalks, a whole variety of new industries are likely to emerge.

First of all, detergents. Several derivatives of sugar are excellent cleaners. APG (alkyl polyglucose) is perhaps the most attractive modern-day cleaning agent. Based on sugar, it is used in a limited form for cosmetics as a skin and hair cleanser and in pharmaceutical applications to speed up the absorption of active ingredients into the bloodstream. APGs could quickly become an excellent substitute for the synthetic detergents which use a non-renewable source (petroleum) or a product from highly polluting monocultures (coconut plantations). The sugar-based APG is a hundred times easier to degrade and is as effective.

Sugar also has a great potential for the making of plastics. At a time when chlorine-based plastics, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are under pressure, alternatives can be drawn from sugar. One option foresees the distillation of ethylene from sugar; it is then polymerized into polyethylene, a common form of plastic. A second option is to ferment sugar into plastics by using yeasts which feed on the sugar and convert up to 75% of their weight into a plastic-like base material.

There are more applications for sugar such as the use of its derivatives as a substitute for phosphates, a raw material banned in many countries for adverse effects on the environment. CITREX is an excellent water softener with wide application opportunities in any country with hard-water conditions. These are just some of the first most obvious applications.

It is impossible for the sugar farmers who have accumulated a vast experience in raising the crop, and have billions of capital investments in farming equipment, to convert this crop into a new type of commodity. The option is either to find a new crop and income for several years while writing off their investments, or to find new applications for the sugar. The second option is the most appropriate, and will bring industry closer together with agriculture to form a formidable new alliance.

MISSING LINK: application technologies

Beer, salmon, and cattle

The brewing of beer creates numerous environmental headaches. The process is far from zero-emissions but could be converted into a perfectly sustainable industry. One of its most polluting activities is the cleansing of the beer-brewing installations. Harsh chemicals are needed to meet strict health standards. As a result, the system needs to be cleaned twice, once with chemicals and again with water to rinse out the chemicals.

If sugar based cleaners are used, the waste water could be fed to fish farms. As we know, eating sugar makes you fat. Why not combine the two, cleaning the system and feeding the fish? In addition, the solid waste from the breweries is rich in protein. This residue has always been used to feed cattle, until the feedlot operations became so massive that the handling of the waste stream became highly polluting. Smaller breweries still have excellent opportunities to provide input to both cattle and fish farmers, a cluster of agro-industry never looked at as being complementary.

The cleansing of returned bottles of beer or milk could be reintegrated along the same lines, securing the elimination of plastic bottles, a major source of municipal solid waste. Whether we talk about milk, juices, beer, or sodas, we actually have a wide variety of product residues which could be removed with natural ingredients. The resulting mixture is excellent for fish farming. The recycling of glass bottles on a local scale becomes most attractive, not just from an environmental point of view, but even more from a food-production perspective.

MISSING LINK: bio-technologies and farming system

In a whole continent such as Africa, with breweries as every nation's pride, there is no one considering the possible integration of fish farming, breweries, and sugar industries. At a time when the world's wild fish catch has clearly reached absolute limits, the drive towards fish farming will intensify. The question is how to secure food for the fish. Using waste from the cleansing process is a research program that has started in China in cooperation with scientists from around the world.

More to come

New clusters will shape industrial policies and corporate strategies of the 21st century. Those industrialists who see this will be able to undertake partnerships, R&D programs, acquisitions, and new startups, which may not be understood by their competitors or shareholders, but which will position them for the 21st century's competition.

All forms of waste will have to be integrated into the mechanism. Waste from one industry, in whatever form, must become an input factor for another business. Companies will decide to locate next to each other because they need each others' wastes. Cities and counties will target specific investments because they realize that attracting one is likely to attract another one, while solving a pressing environmental problem at the same time.

Improving the efficiency of industry, securing investments, implementing inner-city development, and enhancing sustainable social and economic development for the first time can go hand in hand. The time has come to put it into practice. Those who do so will go down in history books as the visionaries of the 21st century. Those who don't will have lost jobs and competitiveness.

Rethinking industrial policies

Government at local and regional levels around the world is under great pressure to create new jobs. The high level of unemployment on one hand and the dramatic numbers of young graduates seeking jobs puts a tremendous pressure on the policy makers. They have to find ways to stimulate economic activity.

The emergence of the new industrial clusters described here will offer cities, regions, and countries which see this opportunity an edge in mobilizing investments. The infrastructural needs can be tailored to the new industrial clusters and campaigns to attract specific com panics can be oriented towards this new vision. It will render the industrial partners more competitive and the overall scheme less costly.

Cuffing government costs

This "cradle to cradle" concept represents new dynamics in the market. It will change the face of industry. The first one to benefit is the government (industrial policy makers and city authorities) and thus the tax payer. Indeed, if industry over the next two decades adopts zero emissions as a standard, then we will observe one of the biggest cuts in government budgets: i.e., the elimination of the need to invest in expensive infrastructure for handling the solid and other wastes produced by ordinary industries.

Let us face the facts. An industrial park requires today a massive up-front investment from local and national governments. The construction of the industrial sewage system, high-volume and high-pressure fresh water supply, high-voltage electricity, stabilized roads, and the like are multi-million dollar investments made decades in advance. Without these investments, no industry would even consider establishing an operation.

But, consider the following possibility: industry reduces water consumption by a factor of ten, has no need for an industrial sewage system because it reuses all waste water itself, energy efficiency is improved by a factor of five, and manufacturing is decentralized instead of highly centralized so that there is no need for high voltage. This changes the face of the industrial parks' infrastructural outlay and the budget needed to prepare for the investments. It has been estimated by the author that as much as 80% of the typical investment needed to prepare an area as an industrial park can be eliminated.

Revitalizing the inner cities

There is a second impact of this evolution. Thanks to (1) the highly flexible and local-market-oriented economies of scale and (2) the zero emissions standard, industry can reestablish its operations back in the city centers. After all, industry was driven out of downtowns because it needed cheap land to build very large single-story plants and was a nuisance to the citizens due to its air, water and noise pollution. But under the new conditions, there is a chance to put life back into the inner cities which are often struggling to get their poverty-ridden and crime-prone areas back on their feet.

The case of China

To conclude let us reflect on what "zero emissions" represents for an industrializing nation such as China.

Since 1950, world production of paper has expanded sixfold, and the industry currently has a world trade value of about US$50 billion. Today, China already counts among the four largest paper producers, but the consumption per capita is twenty times lower than the US and Japan. The United States, Japan, Canada, and China together account for over half of the world total production. Sixty percent of Chinese paper is manufactured with non-wood pulp, and many waste fibers are being considered for papermaking.

Asia imported almost 6.5 million tons of wastepaper in 1992. Taiwan is the world's largest net importer, South Korea was the second, followed by China and Indonesia. These data indicate the acute situation in Asia and the need to address recycling in a fundamental way. Rising literacy rates will further contribute to the increase in paper use. The introduction of fast copiers, printers, and word processing programs make it possible to reproduce effortless and rapidly. Nearly none of this office automation is widely available in China.

The zero-emissions research initiative is a not just an opportunity for Japanese, European, and North American paper and pulp industries to change the face of industry, it is a matter of necessity in view of the dramatic increase of demand expected and the absolute need to stem the adverse side effects of present de-inking methods.

If China were to consume as much paper per capita as the Japanese and the Americans, it would be absolutely mandatory that all paper be recycled on the basis of a zero-emissions concept. If not, the world would be confronted with a dramatic rise in pulp prices. If recycling through de-inking remains based on the current flotation method, a huge sludge of water, ink, chemicals, and short fibers will threaten not only the Chinese rivers, but the Japan Sea as well.

The same logic applies to aquaculture and beer brewing. With the global fish catch declining and with population continuing to expand, the per capita catch is falling fast. The effects of overfishing, pollution, and coastal habitat destruction increase the need to supplement the shortage of supply with fish farming. China dominates world fish farming, producing almost half of the world total. In China, production from fish farms is as large as the wild catch. Asia produces 80% of the farmed seafood worldwide.

Aquaculture has an advantage over its competitors - pork, chicken, and beef - because fish farming is more efficient. Growing a kilogram of beef in a feedlot takes 7 kilograms of feed. A kilogram of pork requires 4 kilograms of feed. And although chicken is the most efficient of the land-raised meats, it still takes an estimated 2.2 kilograms of feed to yield a kilogram of chicken. Fish, in contrast, need 2 kilograms or less of feed. Suspended in the water, fish do not have to expend many calories to move about, and since they are cold-blooded, they do not burn calories to heat their bodies.

Aquaculture can grow, but if it continues to increase at present rates in China, it will require roughly 1 million additional tons of grain every year. That could become too high a cost to pay. At a time when the world carryover stocks of grains (the amount of grain in the bins when the new harvest begins) are projected to drop from 351 million tons in 1993 to 290 million tons in 1994, innovative approaches are needed.

If the Chinese are to embark on investment in breweries, it would be a loss of energy and opportunities unless this policy foresees the establishment of fish farms next to the breweries. While this is a novelty for industrial planners, it will be a necessity. As world grain-land production has only risen one percent between 1984 and 1993, well below population growth, a fundamental rethinking is necessary to safeguard future supply.

And then there are plastics. There is no question about the fact that the Chinese will quickly exhaust all petrochemical resources if they were to package their vegetables and fruits as the Japanese do. Did anyone ever dare to calculate how many millions of tons of additional waste plastics this will add to the garbage stream? Unless these plastics are designed to be compostable, the world will witness an explosion in demand for petrochemicals and an uncontrollable mountain of waste.

The only way that we can imagine the overall improvement of standards of living for the 1.4 billion Chinese is if all forms of waste are eliminated and transformed into input factors for another industrial process, not as a source of energy, but as a value added. These two cases of aquaculture and paper recycling offer interesting alternatives which must be researched systematically alongside numerous additional opportunities.

The role of the United Nations University

This is why the United Nations University (UNU) is embarking on a major research program dedicated to zero emissions. ZERI, the Zero Emissions Research Initiative, aims to bring the best researchers in a multi-disciplinary manner together with the most important industrial policy makers and industry representatives. The objective is to have the first tangible results within five years.

The United Nations University was established in 1973 after a proposal from Secretary General U Thant. The UNU is an international community of scholars engaged in research, post-graduate training, and the dissemination of knowledge through a center located in Tokyo and a network of research and training centers located in the developed and developing countries. From its headquarters in Japan it promotes long-term, global, and multi-disciplinary research. The Zero Emission Research Initiative is the first attempt to bring industry, industrial policy makers, and researchers together under the UN umbrella.


The present market system is unquestionably more economically efficient than a centralized planning system. But our market system cannot be considered the best possible solution. Its deficiencies must be addressed. The economic axiom of minimum input and maximum output naturally leads to the goal of total throughput with no waste the highest level of efficiency that can be achieved. While this goal is logical, it will require a massive effort from scientists to invent the new technologies needed, from business to identify the synergies required, from entrepreneurs to capitalize on the new opportunities traditional management neglects, and from the government to adopt an industrial policy framework.


The countries which will envision these new clusters first and stimulate an environment conducive to this change will be the new tigers of the 21st century. The countries that hang on to the old system will be the dinosaurs. The difference will be made by the men and women who see this today and who will make it happen tomorrow.

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