UOG workshop plants seed for a greener, circular island economy
Representatives from various local businesses and government agencies who attended the Island Circular Economy Industry Workshop on Aug. 13 left energized, enlightened, and eager to identify ways to transform Guam’s economy into one that is more regenerative and sustainable.
The University of Guam Center for Island Sustainability invited Arizona State University sustainability experts Rajesh Buch and Amanda Jordan to conduct the full-day workshop. Business owners, entrepreneurs, and business liaisons received a crash course on why a circular economy — one that cuts waste and reuses materials while lessening the burden on natural resources — is more ideal for industries to pursue than a linear economic model, especially against a backdrop of climate change impacts.
The workshop challenged attendees to deconstruct the business supply chain models of tires, cell phones, plastic bottles, and other products to determine how each step in their production process can take a regenerative approach instead so that fewer resources are needed. Attendees also tied the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals into their work plans to gauge the effectiveness of their new systems.
Buch noted that, in speaking with local businesses, he realized Guam already incorporates elements of a circular economy. Now, he said, it just needs to be a mutually agreed upon direction among the various economic sectors.
“I’m hoping that the attendees will leave this workshop with a new sense of a systematic approach to problem solving,” Buch said. “Anytime you’re facing a problem, if you look at it from different perspectives, such as who will be affected by this system and who will affect your system, you’ll know which stakeholders to engage. At the end of the day, this will be key to solving a problem holistically.”
Jordan provided numerous case studies of businesses and organizations around the world that are upcycling and recycling materials, like pineapple waste and car seat upholstery, to make new products. Closer to home, Kosrae-based Green Banana Paper and its use of banana fibers to produce papers is an example of this type of green business. These ventures can come straight out of Guam, too, she said.
“What’s really exciting about Guam is that you have the motivation and interest from all levels — residents in the communities, entrepreneurs, and those in leadership. We’re happy to be here to give you guys the tools to really push that forward, especially around the Guam Green Growth (G3) Initiative,” Jordan said.
The workshop served as the debut of UOG’s G3 Initiative, which aims to offer solutions that will contribute to a green economy for Guam. This initiative gained traction with the help of a $10,000 grant from the Global Consortium for Sustainability Outcomes, an international network of universities and research institutes advancing solutions to sustainability that the University of Guam joined last summer. UOG and the Kamehameha Schools are partners in the grant, and a similar workshop was held in Hawaii.
Moving forward, the University will work with the Guam Economic Development Authority and the Guam Unique Merchandise & Art Business Incubator to offer more opportunities that will encourage circular island economy industries.
“This is very impactful for our island, and we need to have more of these workshops across all the different sectors. We plan on integrating this program into GUMA so that we can continue to feel the consciousness and awareness of this circular economy,” said Lorraine Okada, a training consultant at GUMA. “I think if we introduce this concept, we can integrate this in the products local businesses prepare and generate, which will further stimulate their business.”
Ada's Trust & Investment Inc.
Bank of Guam
Big Fish Creative Inc.
Blue Amber Trio
Coconut Tree Co.
CoCreation LLC Natural Being
EA Engineering, Science, & Technology Inc.
Eddie J. Cruz LLC
Guam Community College
Guam Department of Agriculture
Guam Economic Development Authority
Guam Small Business Development Center
Guahan Sustainable Culture
Guam Unique Merchandise & Art
Hafa Adai Lemonade
IP&E Holdings LLC
Karabao Design Group
The Lei Company
M.C. Paulino Group Inc.
Okada Managing Consulting Services
Pay-Less Markets Inc.
Pacific Rim Environmental Services
Recycling Association of Guam
Sirena Soul Guam
White Wing Messenger Inc.