The Circular Economy
Connecting It All Together
The Circular Economy is, in essence, swapping out the established take-make-waste linear economic system for one which remakes, reuses and recycles resources. The point is to limit the amount of new resources required as inputs, and to limit the amount of resources lost as waste outputs.
These principle are already at the heart of CEA and vertical farming systems, which usually operate as closed-loop systems, recycling and reusing resources wherever possible (for example with water and nutrients).
But there is always more to be done. Could other waste streams be used as inputs for example? Could food waste be used to create nutrient inputs? Or could it be used in anaerobic digestion systems, to produce energy and heat? Speaking of heat, could waste heat from industrial processes be used? How about waste CO2, which is of course the greatest waste issue of our times, but is much beloved by growing plants!
These kinds of questions force us to ask ourselves how CEA and vertical farming fits into the bigger picture - both of food systems, and of society as a whole. They are important questions that serve to remind us that, though profitability is a vital concern, it is not in and of itself the reason why we do this.
The answer of course is that we do it to provide food for people, in a way which is sustainable and resilient. In this way, we see how these technologies link to social context - a vital connection for an industry that can sometimes be seen as separate and apart from people and that social context.
Whether it's soy or indeed any other crop, this is the purpose of what we do, and we should never forget it. Ultimately, this project is about how humans and the rest of the biosphere can learn to live in harmony with one another. It's about how we can feed ourselves, and look after our health, whilst protecting the natural world upon which we are entirely reliant.
But that's not enough...
Just growing soy in VF, though a brilliant idea, is not going to be enough to do the job - there's a whole bunch of other stuff we're going to have to do as well! See below for some examples of that
A rapidly growing population and the lifting of millions out of poverty in the developing world, means a fast growing future demand for protein. We know that this cannot be addressed through meat alone, due to the harms caused by factory farming. Alternative proteins offer, well, an alternative!
High-Tech Ecosystem Farming (HTEF) is the idea and practice of linking together different controlled environment modules, into an ecosystem. The goal is to
facilitate the flow of resource and waste streams between modules, to maximise efficiency, sustainability and systemic resilience
The circular economy is about abandoning the previously established take-make-waste system and replacing it with systems that reuse & recycle resources. Energy use is a major component of both sustainability and cost for CEA, so the circular model is the way we need to go!