Closed loop recycling and Physical Geography
Several research projects spanning over three decades have provided insights into the importance of closed loop recycling in trying to minimize and eventually eliminate waste. These projects are:
- The “Sustainable Highland Agriculture in South-East Asia Project” (SHASEA). To promote sustainable agro-environmental development in the highlands of South-East Asia, an international multidisciplinary research team examined the effectiveness of selected agronomic and soil conservation treatments in Wang Jia Catchment in the highlands of Yunnan Province, south-west China.
- The “BORASSUS Project” evaluated the long-term effectiveness of biological geotextiles in controlling soil erosion and assessing their sustainability and economic viability, based on field and laboratory experiments in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America.
- The “Yuanyang Project” is investigating the agro-environmental sustainability of the ancient Yuanyang rice terraces of Yunnan Province, China.
- The “Cradle to Cradle BIZZ Project.” “Cradle to Cradle” (C2C) technology is an innovative approach that promotes and develops closed loop recycling systems. At the end of a useful life time, C2C items are disassembled and reassembled for other uses. The aim is that materials are not downgraded, but rather at least retain the same grade with the objective of upgrading materials. The “Cradle to Cradle BIZZ Project” specifically developed C2C protocols on industrial sites in north-west Europe.
Perhaps it is timely that we progress to imitate “nature” and recognize there is really no such thing as waste. We can develop effective “closed-loop recycling systems” which minimize waste or may even generate zero waste. Indeed, as we advance to C2C systems, we can recognize output from one system as a resource for another and that waste can become a resource. Given their integrative perspectives, it is postulated that Physical Geographers can make important contributions to the development of closed loop recycling systems and thus ultimately to sustainability in the broadest sense.