Many of us worry about the environment but sometimes feel it's an insurmountable problem. We recycle, carpool when possible, and hope for the best. Still, some entrepreneurs, like our guest, Justin Kamine, are making practical, lasting change proving it’s not only possible; it's more efficient and profitable. Kamine tells Xander What We Don't Know about a circular economy. Kamine's family business is the Kamine Development Corporation, which Justin branched from to found KDC Earth creating a food infrastructure reducing food waste and creating more sustainable jobs because, as Kamine explains, "We need a closed-loop economy."
Kamine's family has been developing 4 billion dollars of infrastructure over the past 30 years and was the first to practice natural gas cogeneration. "In the 80s, at that time, natural gas was what, kind of, solar is now," Kamine says. Their innovations have created environmentally progressive fuel sources while assisting paper mills and greenhouses with jobs, keeping them in the competitive market, mainly by saving hundreds of jobs in New York and New Jersey.
KDC appeals to the economic incentive of large companies by saving them millions over the years. "We have to become economically viable first, followed by sustainability," he says. KDC has made electricity for employers in the tri-state area cheaper and made Six Flags the first amusement park powered by solar energy.
Five years ago, the Kamine family came up with the thesis of 'circular economy,' realizing, "We're all screwed as a society," Justin says, "Resources are going down; the population is going up, and there's a tremendous inefficiency in the middle."
Justin points to 3 main areas in need of repair to reach a closed-loop economy. Food waste is his priority. "40% of all the food grown gets thrown out," Kamine says, listing that filling landfills, methane gas, and the cost of millions in resources as residual adverse effects of waste. KDC Earth picks up 200 tons of food waste daily and then creates healthier animal feed. "When we all used to grow up on farms," Kamine says, "We used to take our leftover food from our dinner plate and feed it to our chickens, pigs, and pets."
Other areas of focus are reducing cardboard, which he notes has seen an uptake with the popularity of Amazon and online purchases. He upcycles 5 million tons of cardboard creating new cardboard and reducing deforestation. The third innovation is carbon-capturing through concrete creation. KDCAg uses co2 from power plants to develop synthetic limestone. "We can literally create new, 'new concrete' from that, that's actually carbon negative because we sequestered the co2."
"In our time frame, by 2050, there'll be less fish in the sea than plastic. We have a huge soil problem within our time frame." Kamine's family business is helping the future of all families by not only elevating how we upcycle items but by introducing more healthy alternatives such as with his plant-based pharmacy.
Kamine's mission towards a closed-loop economy is a reach for true sustainability that not only appeals to environmentalists but is profitable for large corporations. Kamine believes in changing the business's production approach; it's the people that matter. "The consumers drive the change. If they care about it, companies will start caring about it, "He says, "Just like plant-based protein, it was a niche, and now it's like a staple in every supermarket. That's the power that we have."