Is blue the new green?

Anne-Maree Huxley

A radical new way of thinking about business, The Blue Economy, is set to generate 100 million new jobs in the next 10 years all inspired by nature with zero waste, according to the Blue Economy Institute founder and consultant Anne-Maree Huxley. In coming weeks Ms Huxley will present one-day workshops on this topic in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, tailored to business, government and community leaders.

The Blue Economy enables improved productivity and sustainable growth for virtually every part of the economy. It is also shaping a new way to do business with zero waste, and represents a sustainable and competitive business framework.

As outlined by its founder Gunter Pauli in his report to the Club of Rome, now in 38 languages, The Blue Economy is set to generate 100 million new jobs in the next 10 years. This highly innovative, competitive business model supports a world guided by the Kyoto Protocol and heralds a paradigm shift in economics and sustainability. It showcases cascading business models that have multiple cash flows, examines new energy and buildings options, and shares 100+ innovations that achieve zero pollution and builds social capital.

To date The Blue Economy has seen over EUR4 billion in investments and the creation of an estimated three million jobs with innovation and technology that is as diverse as it is game changing. This ranges from turning thistles – yes a weed we spend millions trying to kill with expensive toxic chemicals – into valuable oils (the Sardinia Refinery has seen $600 million in revenues in its first year) to turning coffee waste into a valuable substrate to grow mushrooms, be used in a range of products to repel odors from paint to sports clothes, or in the manufacture of cosmetics and pharmaceutical products, textiles, biofuels and batteries.

It has also seen investment in new industries such as growing silk for use in medical procedures as a replacement to mining titanium – which can be done at around half the cost of digging titanium out of the ground – or producing stone paper from mining and building waste – paper that uses no trees or water that can be endlessly recycled at about 40 per cent less than it takes to make paper through traditional means.

Aussie ingenuity in blue

So what does this mean in an Australian context, especially as we face significant competitive pressures from globalisation, commodity price and exchange rate volatility, extreme weather events and biosecurity issues?

Well for some it’s going to mean a new way of looking at the products and services we produce. What we currently see as waste streams and liabilities can actually be new income streams. Natural Evolution in North Queensland, for example, has turned its waste green bananas into high value banana flour and ointment.

In the Gascoyne, the Sweeter Banana Cooperative is using bananas salvaged from Cyclone Olwyn to make banana bread that is being stocked in 30 WA stores, and across Australia, thanks to a partnership with Australia Post and TerraCycle, we are also seeing individuals and community groups collecting non-traditional waste such as chewing gum and cigarette butts so they can be reprocessed into high value products such garbage bins and house frames, earning money in the process.

Water can be improved

For others it will be about about replacing something with nothing (one of the principles of The Blue Economy). An example of this is the Vortex Processing Technology, which can change the properties of water.

The VPT crystallises lime particles, removes air bubbles, decreases viscosity and increases both electrical conductivity and heat capacity. When used in cooling towers and evaporative condensers, VPT can achieve higher efficiency and longer life span because lime-scale deposits no longer build up around the cooling elements.

In combination with UV light to prevent biological growth, the Industrial Vortex Generator cooling towers can also achieve a 100 per cent non-chemical operational cooling plant. The “blow down” water can be re-used without treatment a second time before being released. In regions where water is scarce and energy efficiency is paramount, governments such as California’s and the EU give incentives for business and industry to use this technology. But even without incentives – it’s still a great business case with less than two year payback period.

VPT also provides pure water for irrigation – increasing yields and shelf life of fruit and vegetables and improving water quality in rivers, ponds and aquaculture. The VPT also minimises the water (and fertilisers) required to grow crops and keep golf courses lush and green, which will become all the more important as water becomes more scare and prices continue to rise.

The applications of this highly innovative platform technology (inspired by nature) are broad whether you are making ice or coffee, degassing liquids in the paint or coatings industry or aerating rivers, lakes, ponds, aquaculture or sewage.

Creating employment

For communities that need to create employment, The Blue Economy provides a framework to help them see the opportunities, apply the innovations and gain investment.

Over 20 years of R&D by 3000 of the world’s leading scientists provides The Blue Economy with a wealth of smart business development opportunities that turn sustainability into the biggest opportunity since the beginning of money. We all know there is no one silver bullet – but there are thousands of opportunities that will contribute to sustainable development, so whether you are responsible for or have an interest in innovation, sustainability, manufacturing, mining, agriculture, disaster management, economic development, education, R&D, entrepreneurship, business/industry or advisory services, The Blue Economy is here to help guide you.

This is the vanguard. Isn’t it time to see how you can apply it to your business, industry and or community?

See articles in The Fifth Estate on this topic:

Anne-Maree Huxley is a sustainability advisor and one of only 25 Blue Economy Experts worldwide, founder and chief executive officer of Models of Success and Sustainability and founder of the Blue Economy Institute. For details of the upcoming one day seminars on The Blue Economy see here.


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