I’m with you 💯 on the zero-externality circular manufacturing side of things. And I agree that there is more value to be gained from un-recycled waste. I can also see why the profit motive would incentivize entrepreneurs to seek these new values from their waste streams.

But extracting ignored value from waste streams is LITERALLY what turned Google from an unprofitable, balanced-value company (consumers got from the search engine as much or more as they put in) into a surveillance capital monster.

Seeking technological, labor, and material efficiencies IS THE ENTIRE PROBLEM. The profit-driven desire to do more with less so you can get bigger than your competitors is the heart of capitalism. It’s also why capitalism is fundamentally unsustainable.

“Businesses” needn’t be capitalist. They can reach a sustainable scale and then flatten off (lots of businesses function this way, including almost all small family farms). But I caution everyone not to use “value” flippantly, as if it’s an unmitigated positive. “Value” is subjective. Finding new value can be good (selling your avocado pits to a baker), or they can be awful (selling data exhaust to Cambridge Analytica).

There cannot be growth in the sustainable future. All human-made things — houses, vehicles, clothes, businesses — must return to the earth from whence they came without accruing to the owner outsized wealth. Enterprise must seek to enable the participants in that enterprise to thrive within the constraints of what the environment will support long term. Nothing more. But also nothing less!

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