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Growing Profits, from Growing Blue to Grow Rainbow

Insights · July 2nd, 2013

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A few months ago (October, 2012), we wrote a piece on Growing Blue to Grow Rainbow and posted it at (November, 2012). It was prompted by Laurent Auguste’s blog of 5 July, 2012, “Blue Is The New Green”, in which he argued that green economic growth might now be seen instead as water-sensitive, or blue growth. Auguste is President and CEO of Veolia Water Americas. Growing Blue to Grow Rainbow asserted that Growing Rainbow — water-nutrient-energy-sensitive growth — might be more appropriate, although indeed Growing Blue might well be the fastest and most effective path toward realizing it.

In our new insight “Growing Profits from Growing Rainbow”, we attach some hard, monetary estimates to our earlier argument, to convey a rough sense of the cross-sectoral profit-benefit streams to flow from technological innovations in the water sector — Growing Blue, to Grow Rainbow, to Grow Profits, in other words. Our results are based on an analysis for London, UK.

CFGnet’s strategic analyses of innovations for transforming the metabolism of London are being conducted jointly by ourselves at the University of Georgia, Jim Hall, Director of the Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University, UK, and Rich Dawson and Oliver Heidrich, who are with the Center for Earth Systems Engineering Research (CESER), Newcastle University, UK.

And the bottom line truly is this. Were all four water-sector technologies to be implemented — urine separating toilets; combined treatment of kitchen waste and sewage; pyrolysis of sewage sludge; and producing algae-based biofuels from sewage — in excess of $125M in potential additional annual revenue would accrue, along with nearly $250M in expenditure reductions. This all adds up to a total value of resources recovered or saved each year of roughly $375M.

Contributed by M. B. Beck and R. Villarroel Walker

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