plastic of the future

The Ultimate Guide to Plastics of the Future Part 12 – The Bridge Between Capitalism And Sustainability

What Really is Industry 5.0?

Innovation alone will not get us to the necessary sustainable levels to save the planet. It will require regulations, collaboration and assigning a “value” to carbon and waste materials.

Business leaders are always trying to predict the innovations that will put them on the bleeding edge of their industries. But, now that Industry 4.0 has played out, people are asking themselves, what’s next?

Corporations have been talking about machine learning and the internet of things for over a decade. It’s time to propel our society into the next generation of capitalism. Of course, that next generation of opportunity is Industry 5.0.

Consumer and business technologies have become so robust over the past decade that we’re left wondering, what’s businesses’ next evolution?

The short answer is: The Fifth Industrial Revolution

So where will the fifth industrial revolution take us? How will it shape the businesses of the future? What changes should we expect to take place?

The answer has become loud and clear: sustainability.

Sustainability Efforts are Transcending Beyond Today’s Definitions

Sustainability is arguably the only path to longevity in both the public and private markets. In a previous article, we talked about how sustainability is the foundational investment thesis of the future. In it, we discuss how an investment thesis focused on sustainability creates a framework for long-term growth.

But, just saying that the fifth industrial revolution revolves around sustainability isn’t enough. We must go deeper.

 Most companies are aware of the traditional sustainable resources at their disposal. 

  • Energy – solar, wind, and waste to energy conversion plants.
  • Materials – industrial hemp, flax, cotton, and other agricultural goods.
  • Recycling – plastic, paper, metals, woods, rubbers, and other raw materials.

But, in today’s world, our sustainability efforts should have transcended energy, materials, and recycling. By and large, these traditional forms of sustainability have been around for at least a decade.

The idea that sustainability will drive innovation and profitability is not a new assumption. The most innovative products and services are the ones that upgrade the long-term outcomes and capabilities of companies and consumers.

These are just a few of the opportunities companies can seize as they seek to go beyond innovations in energy, materials, and recycling.

Throughout the years, organizations and mandates have been created that ensure companies are following sustainable business practices.

  • SDGs – United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
  • GMP – Good Manufacturing Practices
  • ISO – International Organization of Standardization
  • ASTM – American Society for Testing and Materials

Because these types of standards have become commonplace throughout industries, companies are operating with the same guidelines. These are the rails that allow companies to speak the same language, and move toward the same outcomes.

The Keys to Our Sustainable Future

Global regulations may be the driver that gets us aligned as humans. There are many forms of regulation that have been developed to align personal and corporate actions with global directives.

  • CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) – According to Investopedia, the term corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to practices and policies undertaken by corporations that are intended to have a positive influence on the world. The key idea behind CSR is for corporations to pursue other pro-social objectives, in addition to maximizing profits. Examples of common CSR objectives include minimizing environmental externalities, promoting volunteerism among company employees, and donating to charity.
  • EHS (Environment Health and Safety) – According to Wikipedia, Environment, health and safety (EHS) is an acronym for the methodology that studies and implements the practical aspects of protecting the environment and maintaining health and safety at occupation. In simple terms it is what organizations must do to make sure that their activities do not cause harm to anyone.
  • Social Justice – According to Investopedia, the idea of social justice is that all people should have equal access to wealth, health, well-being, justice, privileges, and opportunity, regardless of their legal, political, economic, or other circumstances. In modern practice, social justice revolves around favoring or punishing different groups of the population, regardless of any given individual’s choices or actions, based on value judgments regarding historical events, current conditions, and group relations. 

Becoming a sustainable planet by reducing our carbon footprint cannot be reduced to one initiative. In fact, it’s unrealistic to think we can use reductionistic methodologies to solve holistic problems. 

There is no one law, mandate, or corporate initiative that can save our planet. It’s a collective effort of millions of companies and billions of people taking little steps every day. To say it in other words – it will take a revolution to accomplish all of these goals. Plastics of the future will undoubtedly play a huge role in this transformation. 

Cultural norms are shifting, and we as a species are fundamentally tackling the most important issues of our lifetime. Individuals, communities and now corporations are changing their views and embracing sustainability.

The opportunities to create a sustainable future lie within each and every one of us. It’s our duty, responsibility, and obligation to make sure we’re creating a planet that will allow future generations to thrive. Innovations in materials, and more specifically, plastics will shape the sustainable future we are all seeking.