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Friday, July 26, 2019

Closed loop

As Asian countries send back western garbage to the country of origin, it may be time to think about recycling differently. From water to plastic, humans have been conditioned to think that the cost of consumption is close to zero. But, unfortunately it is not. In the absence of zero cost energy, perhaps hundreds of years away, consumption of anything is costly for the individual and society. It is time we imposed closed loop as a constraint on all consumption.

Closed loop is a necessary condition for survival for humanity. From inception, humans knew this as there is sufficient evidence that ancient societies implemented closed loop systems, perhaps because of lack of availability of critical ingredients. As they grew richer, lazier and greedy, their actions have started to substantially push costs outside their life horizons. This free rider problem coupled with ignorance has reached a critical state. Unless we figure out how to recycle every unit of consumption, garbage is going to pile up in the neighborhoods and oceans. It is time the best minds in the country focused on this problem - AI and space travel could wait, but garbage cannot. Every county in the country may need to be forced to come up with solutions to implement closed loop within their localities. Every time a drop of water is used and a bottle is opened, the county has to prove a closed loop condition, i.e., the consumed unit is  recycled within a closed loop. Technologies exist but not the knowledge and the will to implement them.

Perhaps returning garbage may provide us the impetus to solve this problem for ever.



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