11/13/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Cyclical and Virtuous Product Lifecycle

Since the industrial revolution began, the lifecycle of a product has been viewed as linear. We buy something, we use it and then we discard it. We have learned that this linear process creates massive economic and environmental inefficiencies.

First, from an economic perspective: The cost of raw materials and the energy required to manufacture a product, the depletion of the supply of raw materials (as demand continues to rise) and the cost of disposing of waste in landfills makes discarding products at the end of their lifecycle an inefficient and costly. Second, from an environmental perspective: the continuous tapping of our natural resources depletes the scenic beauty of our land which is ours to enjoy and the energy required to manufacture a product pollutes our air.

My goal at RecycleBank is to progress societies' view of the product lifecycle from linear to cyclical. Since the discarding of product in a linear lifecycle destroys value, then the reuse and recycling of that product should create value. I believe that in order for a cyclical product lifecycle to be created and remain sustainable, value must be passed back to the entity, households, who are responsible for providing each product a cyclical lifecycle.

Societies can only promote market economies effectively if incentives are aligned. For instance, creating incentives for people to save for retirement is encouraged by allowing people to save a % of their salary tax free in a savings account (401k). Although there are number of these examples, from interest deductions on mortgages to savings accounts for a child's college education, there are a number of sectors of society and our economy where incentives are not aligned. For instance, in most communities, it easier to discard packaging in the garbage then it is to recycle it; an example of society promoting a linear lifecycle of a product. My goal at RecycleBank is to create incentives for households to recycle by giving them a large portion of the value derived from their giving birth to a cyclical product lifecycle.