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Environmental convergence
Integrating environmental and social challenges in inclusive business

Inclusive circular businesses have a critical role to play in combatting plastic pollution

Inclusive circular businesses have a critical role to play in combatting plastic pollution
Full Circle Filament, a young start-up that Endeva helped to create in Thailand, has the potential to increase wages and working conditions for trash pickers, while combatting the country´s plastic waste problem

By Mariska van Gaalen and Tendai Pasipanodya, Endeva.


We believe that combining inclusiveness with circular economy principles is a means to prosperity—and perhaps the only way to sustainable prosperity. At Endeva, we believe business is not about selling goods and services but about solving people’s problems in a way that makes sense to a client. It is this perspective that sparked the creation of a project that looked to solve problems in the waste sector. Together with Covestro and Thammasat University, we carried out research that laid the foundation for the launch of Full Circle Filament.

Our research project brought together the expertise and resources of the Inclusive Business ASEAN department of Covestro, a world leader in plastic manufacturing, Chris Oestereich, an expert on zero waste and circular economy approaches and a faculty member of Thammasat University, and Endeva, with insights on future-fit inclusive business models. The project provided us insight into the challenges—and opportunities—with plastic waste in Thailand. Every year, more than eight million metric tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean worldwide. Just five countries, including Thailand, make up 50% of land-based plastic leakage. In Thailand “recycling at the source” is limited and most waste recycling depends on Base of the Pyramid (BoP) waste pickers, who earn as little as 3USD per day. We explored the possibility of utilising Covestro’s ‘resin blending’ expertise to create a commercial-grade 3D printing filament with recycled plastics and post-industrial waste. The research project concluded with the design of an inclusive circular business that would work closely with Covestro and local waste pickers to create a high-quality filament from plastic waste. The combination of an ineffective waste management system, poor working conditions for pickers and the currently untapped market for recycled 3D filament, served as the foundation for Full Circle Filament.

Plastic Waste at beach
Plastic waste at a beach. Photo Credit: Endeva

We are excited that Chris is now bringing the concept to life! The idea is multifaceted. First, Full Circle creates filament for 3D printing out of recycled plastic gathered by local waste pickers. This inclusive business will increase wages for waste pickers and curb the growing environmental problem of plastic waste. Second, Full Circle works towards a circular approach. The end goal of is not just to produce quality 3D filament made from plastic waste. Eventually, we want to use the filament to 3D-print those products needed in low-income communities, such as prostheses, tools, and replacement parts for appliances and other equipment. In fact, we are researching ways in which low income groups can 3D-print recycled products on demand. We believe this could be a game changer in remote locations that struggle with significant plastic waste challenges and a lack of access to tools and goods. 

Colombian waste picker
BoP waste pickers can increase their income while reducing plastic pollution. Photo Credit: Endeva

This model has the potential to be replicated around the world, in places that face challenges like those in Thailand. BoP waste pickers can play a central role in actively reducing plastic waste in high pollution areas, while increasing their income and attaining better working conditions. With a circular approach, we can reconsider our view on garbage and use it as a source for continuous innovation. We will continue to support this initiative, and we are excited to see Full Circle Filament mature and grow in the coming years. 

Tendai Pasipanodya
As a Director at Endeva, Tendai brings a wealth of experience in the implementation of projects on the ground. Tendai has over 10 years of experience in economic development and has worked in Europe, West Africa and the US. She is an expert on entrepreneurship promotion and wealth creation at the BOP.

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Table of contents

graphic summary

GRAPHIC SUMMARY

A visual summary of the key challenges entrepreneurs need to consider when it comes to integrating environmental and social challenges at the base of the pyramid. Learn more about these aspects by reading this third edition of the newly developed onlin

editorial

THE RECKONING: THE TIME IS NOW TO TAKE THE "GREEN LEAP"

Professor Stuart Hart warns that even “aggressive” inclusive business initiatives cannot save us from having overshot the planet’s carrying capacity, unless we envision—and act on—a more integrated approach to tackling our world’s challenges. Hart calls on social entrepreneurs and big businesses alike to take the so-called “green leap,” by developing—and commercializing—innovative, disruptive, and “clean” technologies in new markets, at the base of the pyramid.

Stuart Hart

featured story

A dangerous disconnect: Inclusive Business without environmental sustainability at its core

This issue of the Inclusive Business Online Magazine CLUED-iN brings us from Liberia and Zimbabwe to Thailand, Korea, India, and Brazil—to focus on one of the fundamental, yet sometimes forgotten underpinnings of inclusive business: the environment. The edition features contributors who are calling for a greater focus on the environment and entrepreneurs who are answering that call.

Dana Gulley

A message to entrepreneurs: this is about missing entire markets, not just marketing opportunities

Sahba Sobhani believes that the work at the “nexus of poverty and the environment,” must be connected to the Sustainable Development Goals—and that it goes far beyond permitting mechanisms like carbon credits.

Green growth: necessary, affordable, and teeming with jobs

Frank Rijsberman of Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) believes there is reason to be optimistic about the future. Working with some sixty governments worldwide, he sees plenty of examples of those that are creating enabling environments for green, inclusive businesses to thrive.

Supporting nature is key to improving the "GDP of the Poor"

Gomera takes us to his childhood village in Zimbabwe—once bountiful—where poverty has led to extreme environmental degradation and now, “entrenched poverty.” He uses Mhondoro to tell a cautionary tale and to make an argument in support of “GDP of the poor,” a new accounting method that takes into account biodiversity and ecosystem services.

What impact? Without a focus on climate resilience, decades of social investment could be undone

Robertshaw makes the argument that social entrepreneurs must consider climate risk in their business planning and develop businesses to combat climate change. She also calls on impact investors to step up.

Korea-based company works to develop nascent ecosystem of "environmental-lens impact investing"

MYSC has taken notice of the growing environmental public and politically sentiment in Korea. As an impact investor and sustainable business, MYSC is committed to reflecting and expanding this sentiment in the private sector.

Food production systems that work, are inherently inclusive and sustainable

JUST is reimagining food systems, and Emerging Markets Director, Taylor Quinn, shares the four principles of a food system that works. As he explains, when you build a system from scratch, you must account for the environment as a cost of operation, “at the core of what you are doing.”

Inclusive circular businesses have a critical role to play in combatting plastic pollution

Using an inclusive and circular approach, Full Circle Filament is dedicated to not only reducing plastic pollution and improving the wages for the trash pickers, but also to innovating new 3-D printed products at the base of the pyramid.

Environmental sustainability and youth employment must be integrated to address rural housing crisis in India

A scaled version of Drishtee’s Gharaunda pilot initiative will create jobs in sustainable construction with the use of locally-sourced building materials. With high levels of youth unemployment, a scaled version of the programme will create jobs in sustainable construction with the use of locally-sourced building materials.

Give a "nudge" and they go a mile: how so+ma is encouraging environmentally-friendly consumer behaviour in Brazil, and offering life-changing opportunities in return

So+ma is tackling the SDGs by changing consumer behaviour. By partnering with companies to offer valuable opportunities to low-income programme participants in Brazil, families have diverted 91,000 kg of waste to recycling and trash pickers have been able to improve their efficiency by 30 per cent.

Six transitions for entrepreneurs to take the "Green Leap" to an inclusive economy

Echoing the sentiment found in Professor Stuart Hart’s editorial, Casado provides the critical “how to guide” for entrepreneurs to take the ‘green leap’. Casado argues that for an economy to be green, it must also be socially inclusive.

Ask Jack

In this insightful podcast series, Jack Sim answers questions from readers of the Inclusive Business Online Magazine CLUED-iN. This month, he voices his thoughts around the topic of environmental innovation for the base of the pyramid.