New War on Waste

You say you want a revolution? Eco-minded thinkers and industrialists are remaking the way we make things

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Ironically, corporate self-interest may become a force for environmental protection. "This is not philanthropy," says Bjorn Stigson, president of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, with 160 corporate members in 30 countries. "Companies that don't get it will lose their competitiveness."

For those who want to "get it," the new visionaries are always ready to help. Rick Haythornthwaite, CEO of Britain's Invensys, an industrial giant reborn this spring as an energy and production management firm, read Natural Capitalism and invited Amory Lovins to speak at the company. To an audience of 400 managers, Lovins, a globetrotting consultant who makes his home at the Rocky Mountain Institute in Colorado, posed questions the group had never heard. How do spiders spin threads stronger than Kevlar but without factories? How might Exxon officials have cleaned up Alaska after the Valdez disaster if they had known that hair absorbs oil better than anything else? Says Haythornthwaite: "He had us eating out of the palm of his hand."

The new industrial order envisioned by revolutionaries such as William McDonough and Amory Lovins is still in an early phase. But with each manager they convince, each CEO they mesmerize, their powerful ideas come one step closer to transforming the world.

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