I’ve been working the last months on building the Open Source Circular Economy Days, an event designed to kick-start an ongoing movement to use the open source methodology to begin building a waste-free circular economy.
(our Mission Statement)
One way in which we’re trying to encourage the growth of a circular economy is by allowing anyone, from anywhere, to look into processes across the economy and find solutions or other uses for what is currently seen as waste.
This replicates one of the exciting but uncertain aspects of open source - giving access and permission without necessarily knowing in advance who will use your project and to what end, which can lead to unusual and innovative developments.
One of my colleagues, Lars Zimmermann, has come up with an idea for a software project to try to aid and document this process, called IPO tables (currently at the rough prototype stage). It starts by breaking down the design, manufacture, distribution, use and end-of-life of a product into Input-Process-Output models.
This software/documentation framework should be a method to collect information about potential uses for particular parts, materials, compounds and so on – eventually once enough processes are documented you can start to plug the outputs from one process into another.
On a not-particularly detailed level, let’s say that a pineapple processing plant has a process that inputs pineapples, and outputs tinned pineapple, pineapple juice, pineapple skins/husk and pineapple leaves. Perhaps the skins and leaves are currently only used for composting.
A system like IPO Tables should be able to inform the company running the plant that pineapple leaves are being used as an input in another process to manufacture textiles.
My question for you is whether the Makerfox system of network barter could be plugged into this system in some way – so that not only can the pineapple company learn that there is a process which uses their waste as an input, but a deal can also be made for the textile company to receive this waste and in turn the pineapple company can receive an input they might require (fertiliser for example, or something much more valuable to them than compost) from elsewhere in the economy.