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  • Vishnuviraj Dhir

From the rejected stone to the key stone: Turning Muck into Buck

Updated: Nov 4, 2022

The Rise of the Reusable Waste Industry

One of the main ‘Raisons d'etres’ behind Sibylline Curiosities is to extract commercial wisdom from the unlikeliest of places. Indeed, while the Bible’s teachings and parables are often used to help solve ethical and moral dilemmas, this article will demonstrate how one can extract commercial solutions from a renowned passage in the Bible, specifically that of ‘The Rejected Stone’.

Under Mark 12:10-11 it is stated that “the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, this was the Lord’s doing and it is marvellous in our eyes”. For those who are unaware the cornerstone is an important rock upon which the entire weight of the structure rests. In Christian thought the passage from Mark is an allegory of Jesus: Jesus was first ‘rejected’ by the Jewish Elders (the builders) but later after his death, resurrection, and ascension he became the ‘cornerstone’ of the spirituality.

While the passage may at first seem completely alien to business, the underlining concept in Mark’s passage, the notion that a ‘rejected item’ gains ‘prestige’ or ‘importance’, is prominent in commerce; especially, in relatively recent start-ups, in what I shall colloquially refer to as the ‘Food Waste-Recycling’ Industry, have taken rejected foods and leftovers and have turned them into the cornerstones of their respective business models.

For example, the pioneering British start-up ‘bio-bean’ (founded in 2013) became the first company in the world to industrialise the process of recycling waste coffee grounds (the rejected stone) into biofuels and biochemicals (the cornerstone) which become consumer retail products. These products are not only more efficient than traditional sources of fuel such as wood but are also environmentally friendly.

Since its conception, ‘bio-bean’ has seemingly gone from strength-to-strength: in 2019 it secured a large investment from one of Europe’s impact investment banks, ‘ClearlySo’. According to ClearlySo, the investment will help ‘bio-bean’ launch ‘new product lines’ and ‘expand internationally’.

Following from Bio-bean’s model I would suggest that companies should apply the underlying concept of the rejected stone as an alternative means of raising equity and funds.

Usually when a company is looking for extra funds it either issues shares on the stock market or it seeks investment from various sources, including banks, investors or via crowd funding. Instead, companies could set up in-house departments which are tasked to find solutions which capitalise on the waste they produce each year; simply put, transforming rejected stones into cornerstones. For instance, rather than dumping waste in landfills, companies could try and sell their waste to businesses like Bio-Bean who recycle waste into biofuels or new products.

Alternatively, companies could take it upon themselves to create consumer products from their waste. Thanks to modern technology and recent breakthroughs businesses are already creating almost anything from used items, such as ‘Net-works’ which turn damaged nylon fishing nets, collected from fishermen in the Philippines and Cameroon, into carpets.

By finding ways to capitalize from their waste, companies not only generate extra funds, but it also gives them an environmentally friendly reputation; thus, inducing a positive image amongst consumers, who are increasingly environmentally conscious. Furthermore, by finding solutions to profit from their waste companies end up saving money, as landfills are a costly method of disposal for companies given UK government’s tax on landfill.

To summarise by embracing the concept of the rejected stone in commercial thinking companies not only generate and save capital but they help us get one step closer to an environmentally friendly utopia.

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