National Materials Marketplace Pilot Project Update: August 2015


As we near the end of August 2015, the National Materials Marketplace pilot has nearly wrapped up the initial data collection phase and has marched forward into analysis, synergy identification and the early stages of synergy facilitation. This positions us well to close out the pilot phase of the project in mid-September and launch a formal report with our results, learnings and path forward.

Materials Available


So far there are 140 material available listings in the marketplace from 20 out of 22 participants, totalling around 2.3 million tons/year of underutilized materials available for higher and better use. This figure alone demonstrates a tremendous opportunity for environmental, social and economic impact; and as a part of the final report, we’ll be conducting deeper analysis on potential impacts in each of these three areas.

Actionable Opportunities

Select, preliminary results from the initial round of materials analysis are summarized below. In addition to this, nearly all of the 140 materials available have been matched with some sort of reuse idea, which we’ll be sharing directly with participants over the next week or two.

Cement kiln Co-processing
Waste co-processing (pre-treatment and co-incineration) in cement kilns takes advantage of the high heat and long retention time already used in the cement production process. Out of all the materials that can be technically reused in the cement kilns, we have prioritized those that adhere to the “highest and best use” principle of our work. This includes many of the non-metallic mineral materials from aluminum industry, and organic by-products with high calorific value from chemical industry.

By-products from the chemical industry are generally reused in four ways: 1) reuse as it is 2) reuse after purification/treatment, 3) reuse the chemical property of the material in other applications, or 4) reuse of the heat value in the material. Many of the chemical materials in the marketplace fall under one or more of these categories, including: propanol heads (direct reuse), spent sulfuric acid (direct reuse or pH adjustment), methocel, resin oil, spent solvents, and lubricants (btu value).

Red Mud
One chemical and one sand/mining company have expressed interest via the marketplace software in reusing red mud (bauxite residual) as Phosphorus removal media and sand production additive, and are in the process to acquiring test samples. We are also working to identify interested parties – in particular, those with operations along the Gulf Coast and Mississippi River – to reuse red mud as levee construction materials. Research from the EPA’s Region 6 office is also being leveraged for this idea.

Drums and Totes
Some participants have used shipping containers like totes and drums in the marketplace, and are in discussions to recondition and reuse them for their original purpose.

Steel Offal
The steel offal from one auto industry company has caught great interest from multiple participants, all of whom are scoping reuse of these high quality materials directly in their production.

Fibrous Material
Fibrous material makes up a significant part of the packaging materials available in the marketplace. Our reuse idea is to work with a ceiling tile manufacturer to incorporate these materials into their ceiling products.

Materials Highlights


Below are four especially interesting materials available now in the marketplace. Visit to login and view these materials and more.

Natural Leather Scrap
Natural leather from footwear manufacturing component cutting. Good for direct reuse.

5200 tons/year

Silica Sand
Crystalline silica is hard, chemically inert and has a high melting point. It is used for a wide range of applications, e.g. glass, casting, molds production, etc.

4200 tons/year

Hardwood Flooring
Off-spec unfinished and finished hardwood (mostly red and white oak) flooring.

960 tons/year

HITEC Solar Salt
Mixture of water soluble, inorganic salts of potassium nitrate, sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate. It is a heat transfer medium for heating and cooling between 300-1100 F.

368 tons/year

Emerging Connections

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is a global circular economy thought leader; leveraging education, business innovation and analysis to accelerate the transition from linear to circular systems. Their Circular Economy 100 platform brings together leading companies, emerging innovators and regions to work towards this end goal. The overlap between our efforts is clear, and we’ll be presenting our action-oriented project methodology to CE100 companies this October in Milan to explore how they can join the effort.

Our collaboration on Sustainable Materials Management with the US EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER) is moving forward, and through this collaboration we’ll be involved in an upcoming workshop with G-7 Alliance on Resource Efficiency.

Scaling this project and our successes to the European Union is looking very likely, spearheaded by the WBCSD’s Global Network. We’ll be presenting the project via webinar to over 20 Global Network leaders across the EU in late August. We’ll also be presenting at a European Commission circular economy workshop in mid-September.

Collaborating to Achieve Scale: Conference Highlights

Can business make real progress on global environmental and social issues? Can businesses positively influence environmental and social trends while strengthening their own resilience to issues like climate change and resource scarcity? Can we collaborate to translate great ideas into great actions, and scale them up to have meaningful impact?

Can business make real progress on global environmental and social issues? Can businesses positively influence environmental and social trends while strengthening their own resilience to issues like climate change and resource scarcity? Can we collaborate to translate great ideas into great actions, and scale them up to have meaningful impact?


Over 100 WBCSD and US BCSD members, business leaders and sustainability professionals gathered in New Haven on July 16-17, 2015 to try to answer those questions. The setting was a unique collaboration in itself: a joint working meeting of the US Business Council for Sustainable Development (US BCSD), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the Yale Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY).


Participants from different sectors and roles worked together in a variety of settings. People selected their own sessions, no barriers based on roles. Sessions combined “veterans” and those with hands-on involvement with others with a stake in the issue, expertise in key disciplines, experience in parallel issues or simply bringing fresh perspective. Together, these diverse groups produced insights, actions, pathways forward and new collaborations.


One emerging theme was connections, including:

  • Between needs and solutions
  • Between science and business
  • Between different projects (e.g. agriculture and water, materials and forestry)
Collaborating to Achieve Scale: Conference Highlights

Guiding Principles

The two-day event was designed to connect thought leadership, breakthrough ideas, and realistic business approaches to action-orientated projects and implementation platforms. We explored existing and emerging projects that demonstrate how collaborations work in practice; discussed what’s needed for scale in the context of finance, communications, policy and technology; and created opportunities for peers across sectors to learn and gain from one another.

Next Steps

Over the next six weeks, we’ll be sending out in-depth write-ups on Coastal Resiliency, the National Materials Marketplace, Climate Smart Agriculture, Sustainable Forestry, and Energy Efficiency in Buildings. Each paper will go into detail on how Finance, Policy, Communications, and Technology can accelerate scale, building on our discussions during the event. For now, see some quick bullet points on each session below.

Media and Resources

US BCSD: for project updates, social media summaries, video links, and in-depth session write-ups. @usbcsd on twitter.

Yale Center for Business and the Environment: for video links and in-depth session write-ups. @YaleCBEY on twitter.

WBCSD: for project updates, and social media conversations. @wbcsd on twitter.

Click here for a social media recap of the event.


Professor Marian Chertow (Yale) and author and global expert Andrew Winston explore why new models of collaboration are needed to scale the solutions to our sustainability challenges.

Lynda Clemmons from NRG and Jonathan Atwood from Unilever discuss how they’re using renewable energy to redefine customer relationships and grow their businesses.


Financing Coastal Resiliency

Challenge: design a pathway to engage new financing mechanisms to scale-up wetland restoration and increase coastal resiliency.

  • Capital markets are watching and waiting. Need methodology to build the case for private investment including data about both the effectiveness of solutions and savings (in construction and O&M costs, insurance claims, capital investment avoided, etc.)
  • Avoid “barrier language.” Consider regulator education including agreement on terminology.
  • Without a baseline/inventory for natural capital, it is hard to quantify (or monetize) losses or gains.
  • There are real examples of private sector costs that could have been avoided (e.g. $100MM to restore pipeline integrity to avoid risks and assure business continuity).
  • Green infrastructure: much cheaper, lighter and less disruptive/destructive. Long term advantages: grow instead of settle, can appreciate rather than depreciate.

Climate Smart Agriculture

Challenge: scale-up production systems that sustainably increase productivity, resilience (adaptation), reduce/remove GHGs (mitigation), and enhance achievement of national food security and development goals.

  • Different vocabulary used in agriculture and climate sectors. Climate speak is dramatic – “catastrophic event.” We are close to the brink in terms of negative impacts, but need to come up with our own vocabulary in the agriculture sector that speaks to farmers.
  • Paradigmatic change – producing the food, feed and fiber we need while addressing climate change.
  • No changes in farming practice will happen until we generate stable financial support How to finance large­-scale technology improvements and promote access to new technologies from the private sector.
  • Increase productivity, reduce waste, and rehabilitate degraded agricultural land.
  • Use non-­productive land areas to sequester carbon or designate them for ecosystem services.

Energy Efficiency in Buildings

Challenge: trigger motivation for wide-scale market transformation in the buildings sector.

  • How do we translate technical language for the finance community? Is there a way to drive the market via valuation?
  • Where do green banks come into the picture on energy efficiency? Can we animate the markets and mobilize private capital?
  • Focus on both the broad stakeholder engagement process and also the actual implementation of energy efficiency measures on a building level.
  • Banks are ready with capital to invest at scale, but often don’t have time or resources to help create scale.

National Materials Marketplace

Challenge: scale up business-to-business materials reuse to the national and international stage.

  • Language, if used incorrectly, can be a huge barrier: the word materials (vs. “trash”) changes the conversation.
  • Raising awareness within the business community is key. Creating awareness of value and cost savings generates conversations between businesses.
  • Nonprofits can be the boots on the ground.
  • Need to have the right platform for scale to happen, but that takes resources to make the platform work and ensure good communication
  • Need a financing model after the pilot to sustain the operation and grow the network.
  • Need to get the right group of people engaged internally, e.g. procurement, technical experts, and public communications.
  • The national project should interface with US BCSD’s various regional materials marketplace projects.
  • Policies uniform across multiple states would enable easier reuse of materials across different states.
  • Success stories, business cases, and related metrics are the key for scaling up.

Sustainable Forestry

Challenge: bring more of the world’s forest under sustainable management and expand markets for responsible forest products.

  • The loss of forests is driven by more than just forest products. Increasing sustainable forests product output is different from reduction of destructive use of forested lands (slash/burn, etc.).
  • Forestry solutions contribute to forest restoration but other sectors, like agriculture, have to work to slow forest loss.
  • Still confusion on what counts as a natural vs artificial forest. Avoid over using words like natural/planted/wild/reclaimed. The issue gets even murkier when you consider how long it takes forests to grow and whether there is human involvement during this process. At what point is does a forest go from natural to managed to farmed to man­-made?
  • Invest in mitigation projects with an adaptation co­-benefit or the reverse (adaptation projects with an mitigation co­-benefit).
Collaborating to Achieve Scale: Conference Highlights



  • Translate benefits into financial terms, both with language and with quantification/ monetization.
  • Chicken and egg problem: Banks won't invest until scale, but we won't get scale until banks invest.
  • Disaggregated benefits may be good for politics and public policy, but are a challenge for investors. Finding ways to collect, “stack” and monetize those benefits.
  • Need to focus on ways to structure leverage. For example, smart subsidies: Use public money to leverage private sector funding.


  • How do we reframe the sustainability challenge? How do we better explain a complex topic in ways that reach broader audiences?
  • Danger if conversation is meaningful to stakeholders involved, but fail to translate to the other critical players.
  • Traditionally, the role of messenger for these issues have been delivered by scientists, advocates and liberals. These groups are naturally seen as special interests, rather than having mass appeal.
  • We need to reframe these issues by focusing on a values based discussion that is delivered with sound science to targeted audiences.
  • Need sustained conversations with a particular audience.
  • Break out of silos. Develop broader narrative that needs to be communicated. Everybody that wants the same 2050, etc goal, needs to start telling the story on a consistent basis in a way people understand.
  • We need to be multi-lingual in order to reach a wide audience and speak in language that all audiences can understand on an issue of shared interest. One crosscutting issue for science and business is risk – we need to find language that can bridge communications between science, business and to some extent government.
  • Build a dialogue based on values focused decision making to build trust and understanding in the community.
    • Surface the values that are underscoring in initial conversation with those you would like to engage.
    • Be clear which stakeholders need to be involved, involve them, test your message with them and craft a story and a narrative that meets your audiences where they live.
    • Test the message with the group.
    • Identify the most creative and compelling vision to what the best ways to visualize that content.
    • Last step is figuring out who is going to produce the content? If not you, who is the right person?


  • Outdated policy hinders business innovation, fragmented politics, frustrates people.
  • Need to create safe space for collaboration, including standard disclosure mechanisms to drive to scale.
  • Outcome and measurement are the foundation.
  • Sector collaboration may be needed when no single company is willing to take the lead.
  • Trust is the key when attempting to work across business and policy makers. Many of the problems that we have discussed stem from this distrust.
  • Being focused on climate change broadly can work to the detriment of both policy and business. There are additional environmental issues such as fresh water rights/shortages that must also be addressed.


  • Incredible power to change what we do and how we do it.
  • Challenge of ensuring that we’re focusing technology on the right questions: e.g. is it how to reduce energy use or how to reduce the impact of the ways we produce and consume energy?
  • Technology leaps largely come from focusing on functionality – e.g. cell phones, not better telephone wires. Can we get color without dyes rather than better dyes?
  • Great technology upstream can enable great benefit downstream, but this benefit can’t be monetized. Finding the technology or applying it isn’t the problem. It’s addressing the combination of disaggregated un-monetized benefits.
Collaborating to Achieve Scale: Conference Highlights

Social Media Recap from Yale University























From Waste to Opportunity: Over 20 Companies Launch New Project to Scale Up Material Reuse across US Facilities


Online marketplace allows companies to exchange underutilized materials, turning one company’s waste into raw material for the other.

Geneva, San Francisco, Austin, July 8, 2015: The National Materials Marketplace is a new joint pilot project led by the Corporate Eco Forum (CEF), US Business Council for Sustainable Development (US BCSD), and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). Bringing together more than 20 major companies with operations in the United States, the project will help participants identify ways to reuse or exchange undervalued materials via an online database, and establish new circular supply chains.

“The increasing pressure on our natural resources sends a clear message: we need to find value in discarded materials. Growing cross-industry collaboration for the efficient use of our resources is promising. This opens up new business opportunities while creating economic, environmental, and societal benefits,” says Andrew Mangan, Executive Director of US BCSD.

“The Materials Marketplace project is a key step towards the shift to a circular economy – one where waste becomes the new engine for creating value,” says Peter Bakker, President and CEO of the WBCSD.

“Unlocking business-to-business reuse opportunities ensure effective waste management and deliver integrated benefits.”

The potential benefits of matching material and by-product waste streams with opportunities for reuse are massive. In recent years, General Motors has generated nearly $1 billion in annual revenue through reusing and recycling its by-products. By finding reuse and recycling options for this material, GM avoided over 10 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions in 2014.

“Material management is a business opportunity, not just a cost-reduction strategy,” adds John Bradburn, GM’s Global Manager of Waste Reduction. “We have to reach the stage where by-products are viewed the same way we view product development – part of constant improvement and innovation.”

The Marketplace is a unique collaboration among the three business associations. Originally conceived at a CEF member meeting, the idea gained momentum with the support of early advocates including GM and Nike. The national pilot builds upon a similar regional project in Austin, Texas, as well as other “by-product synergy” projects in North America, China and the United Kingdom over the past 20 years.

Amy O’Meara, Director of the Corporate Eco Forum explains: “US BCSD’s expertise and software were exactly what our members were looking for. And joining forces with US BCSD and WBCSD was a natural fit, given the significant complementarity of our memberships. By leveraging each of our organizations’ strengths, we can deliver increased value to participating companies.”

By joining the pilot, participating businesses benefit from:

  • Lower operational costs due to cheaper feedstock and reduced waste disposal costs
  • Reduced carbon footprint owing to major cuts in energy use and GHG emissions
  • Reduced environmental footprint by avoiding waste disposal and raw material purchase
  • Enhanced social and economic impact through new business opportunities and jobs
  • Improved corporate reputation through the reporting of reuse activities and diversion of waste streams for productive purposes
  • A collaborative and dynamic business network allowing for exploration of new pathways for materials with other like-minded colleagues.

Lessons learned from the pilot will be used to scale up materials reuse projects worldwide, notably through the WBCSD’s Global Network of national business councils.

Participating companies include: 3M; Armstrong World Industries; CH2M; Eastman Chemical; Essroc – Italcementi Group; Holcim-Geocycle; Goodyear; Fairmount Santrol; General Motors; Nike; Novelis – Aditya Birla Group; The Dow Chemical Company; Tetra Pak Inc.; Swisstrax; Systech; and many others.


About the US BCSD
The US BCSD is an action oriented and member-led business association that harnesses the power of collaborative projects, platforms and partnerships to develop, deploy and scale solutions to ecosystems, energy, materials and water challenges. US BCSD activities are designed to generate economic returns and address environmental and societal challenges. The US Business Council is one of 70 national councils worldwide associated with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, a network of 200 companies with members drawn from 30 countries and 20 major industrial sectors.

About CEF
The Corporate Eco Forum (CEF) is an elite, invitation-only membership organization comprised mainly of Fortune and Global 500 companies from 18 industries with combined revenues of over $3 trillion. CEF provides a year-round safe, neutral space for influential executives to exchange best practice, collaborate, and innovate. Participants are almost exclusively VP and C-level executives across multiple business functions including CSOs, CTOs, CIOs, CFOs, CMO, and VPs for Supply Chain. The diversity of executives, coupled with the cross-industry nature of CEF, creates a world-class platform to accelerate sustainable business problem solving and innovation.

About the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), a CEO-led organization of some 200 forward-thinking global companies, is committed to galvanizing the global business community to create a sustainable future for business, society and the environment. Together with its members, the Council applies its respected thought leadership and effective advocacy to generate constructive solutions and take shared action. Leveraging its strong relationships with stakeholders as the leading advocate for business, the Council helps drive debate and policy change in favor of sustainable development solutions.

The WBCSD provides a forum for its member companies – who represent all business sectors, all continents and a combined revenue of more than $8.5 trillion, 19 million employees – to share best practices on sustainable development issues and to develop innovative tools that change the status quo. The Council also benefits from a network of 70 national and regional business councils and partner organizations, a majority of which are based in developing countries.

Pope Francis Embraces Circular Economy

By Maclain Pinkerton, US BCSD Summer Intern

The circular economy now has the backing of a papal mandate, thanks to Pope Francis’s June 18th encyclical letter (“Laudato Si”) concerning the environment. In only 2 years of papacy, Pope Francis has made headlines for his many progressive (and at times controversial) opinions regarding poverty, homosexuality, and interfaith dialogue. His newest focus is on the environment, decrying wasteful use of materials and endorsing the science behind human-driven climate change.

Stating that “Mother Earth… cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her,” Pope Francis acknowledges the negative impacts of unsustainable economic practices. His request for ecological reform heavily promotes the transition to a circular economy, demonstrated by his views that “our industrial system, at the end of its cycle of production and consumption, has not developed the capacity to absorb and reuse waste and by-products. We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources… while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them.”

He also stresses the importance of action vs. attitude by saying that “people may well have a growing ecological sensitivity but it has not succeeded in changing their harmful habits of consumption.” He isn’t speaking just to Catholics, but to everyone, saying “Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production, and consumption.”

Pope Francis chose his name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of the environment. He reflects this with his groundbreaking opinions on environmental reform, the full text of which can be found here. Perhaps this new Catholic doctrine will give zero-waste initiatives around the world a much-needed dose of divine intervention.

Maclain Pinkerton

James Maclain Pinkerton is a UT Advertising Student and word enthusiast. He is focused on general communications work for the Business Council, and in his spare time is a tree-climber and avid film-watcher.


What new approaches are opening up access to funding for sustainability projects?


This July 16-17 at Yale University, we’ll be asking you for your input on how financing can help scale up our collaborative sustainability projects and initiatives. We’ve assembles a small group of experts from finance and investment institutions, as well as government-funded green banks, to work with you on July 17th and respond to your experiences related to financial opportunities and barriers to scaling sustainability initiatives. We’ll discuss developments in debt, equity and unconventional financing tools.

The agenda for the two day event will also include discussions on a range of other US BCSD, WBCSD and Yale University projects and initiatives – view the full agenda and register at

Collaborating to Achieve Scale: this July 16-17 at Yale University

July 16th and 17th – Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut

Can business make real progress on global environmental and social issues? Can businesses positively influence environmental and social trends while strengthening their own resilience to issues like climate change and resource scarcity? We think so – but we have to work together to get there.

The WBCSD, US BCSD, and Yale University are walking the talk. We’ve engaged in new organizational collaborations that will help scale up impact by joining forces and leveraging our collective capabilities. For example, the US BCSD and WBCSD have engaged in a new level of collaboration to connect the WBCSD’s thought leadership, breakthrough ideas, and realistic business approaches to the US BCSD’s action-oriented project proving ground and implementation platform.


In this context of organizational collaboration, we invite US BCSD and WBCSD members, other businesses, Yale and Global Network for Advanced Management faculty and staff, and colleagues in our network to join us on July 16th and 17th at Yale University. Together we’ll explore existing and emerging projects that demonstrate how these collaborations work in practice; discuss what’s needed for scale in the context of finance, communications and technology; and create opportunities for peers across sectors to learn and gain from one another.

The agenda for these two days includes:

  • Hands on work sessions to scale existing projects focused on the circular economy, collaborative water strategies, energy efficiency in buildings and others.
  • Work sessions on emerging projects, including climate smart agriculture and coastal resiliency.
  • An exploration of emerging tools and approaches to address the barriers to scaling up impact, including finance, communications and technology.

Add the event to your calendar using the buttons below, and watch our website and twitter account for registration details.

ROC Detroit Wraps Up Second Working Meeting

roc group

The Reuse Opportunity Collaboratory (ROC) Detroit held its second working meeting on April 8th at the General Motors Renaissance Center. The meeting attracted wonderful turnout from Detroit industries, institutions, small and medium sized businesses, and entrepreneurs looking to unlock how to transform waste into new products and new business opportunities. Keep an eye out here, and on, for a meeting summary and new project developments.

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