Algo estamos haciendo mal

Últimamente estoy dedicado a la lectura de libros sesudos sobre economía y en esas lides me he encontrado con un ejemplo del llamado "metabolismo industrial" o "cómo derrochar recursos sin complejos":

"A striking case study of the complexity of industrial metabolism is provided by James Womack and Daniel Jones in their book Lean Thinking, where they trace the origins and pathways of a can of English cola.

The can itself is more costly and complicated to manufacture than the beverage. Bauxite is mined in Australia and trucked to a chemical reduction mill where a half-hour process purifies each ton of bauxite into a half ton of aluminum oxide.When enough of that is stockpiled, it is loaded on a giant ore carrier and sent to Sweden or Norway, where hydroelectric dams provide cheap electricity. After a monthlong journey across two oceans, it usually sits at the smelter for as long as two months.

The smelter takes two hours to turn each half ton of aluminum oxide into a quarter ton of aluminum metal, in ingots ten meters long. These are cured for two weeks before being shipped to roller mills in Sweden or Germany. There each ingot is heated to nearly nine hundred degrees Fahrenheit and rolled down to a thickness of an eighth of an inch. The resulting sheets are wrapped in ten-ton coils and transported to a warehouse, and then to a cold rolling mill in the same or another country, where they are rolled tenfold thinner, ready for fabrication.

The aluminum is then sent to England, where sheets are punched and formed into cans, which are then washed, dried, painted with a base coat, and then painted again with specific product information. The cans are next lacquered, flanged (they are still topless), sprayed inside with a protective coating to prevent the cola from corroding the can, and inspected.

The cans are palletized, forklifted, and warehoused until needed. They are then shipped to the bottler, where they are washed and cleaned once more, then filled with water mixed with flavored syrup, phosphorus, caffeine, and carbon dioxide gas. The sugar is harvested from beet fields in France and undergoes trucking, milling, refining, and shipping. The phosphorus comes from Idaho, where it is excavated from deep open-pit mines—a process that also unearths cadmium and radioactive thorium. Round-the-clock, the mining company uses the same amount of electricity as a city of 100,000 people in order to reduce the phosphate to food-grade quality. The caffeine is shipped from a chemical manufacturer to the syrup manufacturer in England.

The filled cans are sealed with an aluminum “pop-top” lid at the rate of fifteen hundred cans per minute, then inserted into cardboard cartons printed with matching color and promotional schemes. The cartons are made of forest pulp that may have originated anywhere from Sweden or Siberia to the old-growth, virgin forests of British Columbia that are the home of grizzly, wolverines, otters, and eagles. Palletized again, the cans are shipped to a regional distribution warehouse, and shortly thereafter to a supermarket where a typical can is purchased within three days. The consumer buys twelve ounces of the phosphatetinged, caffeine-impregnated, caramel-flavored sugar water. Drinking the cola takes a few minutes; throwing the can away takes a second. In England, consumers discard 84 percent of all cans, which means that the overall rate of aluminum waste, after counting production losses, is 88 percent. The United States still gets three-fifths of its aluminum from virgin ore, at twenty times the energy intensity of recycled aluminum, and throws away enough aluminum to replace its entire commercial aircraft fleet every three months.

Every product we consume has a similar hidden history, an unwritten inventory of its materials, resources, and impacts. It also has attendant waste generated by its use and disposition. In Germany, this hidden history is called “ecological rucksack.” The amount of waste generated to make a semiconductor chip is over 100,000 times its weight; that of a laptop computer, close to 4,000 times its weight. Two quarts of gasoline and a thousand quarts of water are required to produce a quart of Florida orange juice. One ton of paper requires the use of 98 tons of various resources".

El extracto corresponde al libro "Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution" de Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, y L. Hunter Lovins. Libro totalmente recomendable para todos aquellos que estén involucrados en la industria y tengan algo de conciencia medioambiental.

Este libro también recoge una interesante idea sobre redistribución de los impuestos. A ver qué os parece:
"Taxes and subsidies are, in essence, a form of information. At the most basic level, they cause change. Everybody in the world, whether rich or poor, acts on price information every day. Taxes make something more expensive to buy, subsidies artificially lower prices. Thus, when something is taxed, you tend to buy less of it, and when you subsidize, you reduce prices and stimulate consumption.A practical step in moving toward radical resource productivity would be to shift taxes away from labor and income, and toward pollution, waste, carbon fuels, and resource exploitation, all of which are presently subsidized.

For every dollar of taxation that is added to the cost of resources or waste, one dollar is removed from taxes on labor and capital formation. A tax shift is not intended to redefine who pays the taxes but only what is taxed.Work is freed from taxation as is business and personal income.Waste, toxins, and primary resources make up the difference. As the cost of waste and resources increases, business can save money by hiring now-less-expensive labor and capital to save now-more-expensive resources. As business saves by increasing resource productivity, higher resource taxes may ensue, because there will be a smaller base of resources and waste to tax. That, in turn, will spur further research and innovation in resource productivity".

1 comentarios:

Morning Star dijo...

Muy interesante, la verdad.
No sé si todas la "historias" de las latas de refresco serán tan truculentas, porque a veces da que pensar que han cogido los peores ejemplos para ilustrar el ciclo de vida de ese producto.
Sea como sea, es cierto que desconocemos el proceso completo de fabricación de cualquier artículo, y seguro que es enrevesado como el del ejemplo de las latas.

Sobre esa idea de la redistribución de impuestos ya había leido algo por el estilo en una revista online,, de la cual se pueden leer los números anteriores en la misma web. Eso sí, yo hace muuucho tiempo que la tengo olvidada.