Day: March 11, 2023

Charted: The Global Plastic Waste Trade

This post is by Freny Fernandes from Visual Capitalist

Plastic waste trade

Charting the Movement of Global Plastic Waste

Every year, nations worldwide produce around 350 million metric tons of plastic waste. This is equivalent to over 10 million fully loaded garbage trucks.

Most of this plastic waste is either incinerated or sent to landfills, thus eventually polluting our air, land, and oceans. Only a fraction of this waste is recycled, and contrary to popular belief, just 2% is traded internationally.

This graphic by Our World in Data uses data from OECD and UN Comtrade to reveal just how much plastic waste is traded across borders, and which countries are estimated to export and import the most of it.

Why Trade Waste?

Though most plastic waste is managed and recycled within countries, exporting spare waste helps manage a part of their plastic emissions more cheaply and reduces pressure on local recycling facilities and landfills.

Importing plastics, on the other hand, comes with certain financial benefits too. Repurposing recycled plastics into goods is a far cheaper option for industries that would otherwise rely on buying newly manufactured expensive plastics. And many countries differ when it comes to their specific plastic recycling capabilities and needs, so while they might export some plastic waste, they also import others that are useful.

Research has even found that higher plastic waste imports have positively impacted the economic growth of many low-income countries, in the right circumstances.

However, when countries export unusable and non-recyclable contaminated plastics, these same low-income nations may see the end-of-life ecosystem costs outweigh (Read more...)

A Tough Weekend

This post is by Om Malik from On my Om

After three decades of being part of the Silicon Valley ecosystem — as a reporter, writer, entrepreneur, and investor — I thought I had seen it all. The boom-bust cycles, stock market manias, startup insanity, attack on America itself, and the most significant financial calamity in nearly a century — living through history prepares you for every eventuality. Your own struggle with mortality prepares you for the unpredictability of everything. You embrace the impermanence and become one with it. And despite all that, you experience what Silicon Valley has experienced this weekend — a sense of helplessness, a feeling of dread, and, more importantly, a sadness about the fragility of our community.

This past week, the federal regulators took over Silicon Valley Bank. I won’t repeat what has been reported in the media (Insider and Axios have ongoing coverage.) I won’t share how we got there — these two links explain the problem quite well. However, what I will do is share what I am feeling — this might be the worst weekend I have experienced as part of the technology community. 

The bad news was like a marionette outside a car dealership when the dot bomb hit, swaying, falling, and rising with the shifting winds. The exodus, painful as it was, played out over a long period. It was quickly superseded by the American Tragedy of 9/11 when we as a country lost ourselves. The 2008 financial crisis was another rude reminder that Silicon Valley wasn’t as (Read more...)

Bank Hygiene for Startups

The last 72 hours has been a whirlwind in startupland. With the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), the largest financial institution for startups is no more. SVB worked with half the VC-backed companies in the United States, and according to PitchBook, there are 130,000 such businesses. That’s right, an astounding 65,000 startups are SVB customers. As of Friday morning, the first $250,000 of demand deposits are guaranteed and monies in excess of that are dependent on winding down the bank and not guaranteed. Current rumors range from 50% of deposits will be made available on Monday to takeover by a bigger bank with minimal disruption to deposits. Yet, nothing above the first $250,000 is guaranteed.

Startups that bank with SVB will have a long weekend waiting to see what ultimately is shared on Monday. My guess is that startups will get all their deposits back, but it might take some time to do so depending on whether or not the government steps in.

Now, regardless of being venture backed or an SVB customer, there are a few bank hygiene takeaways for startups:

  • Two Bank Relationships – Treasury management is clearly mission critical to the business. By having standard bank accounts with two different banks, a backup is ready to go in case the primary bank struggles. In addition, it’s valuable to negotiate better rates and terms whereby the banks compete against each other. Just like having geographically independent data centers to host your app for redundancy, do the same (Read more...)

Leadership during a crisis

This post is by dunkhippo33 from Elizabeth Yin

Wow. What a week.

I’m sure most of you reading this are in and around startups and already know what I’m referring to. But if not, the most popular bank for startups and VCs called Silicon Valley Bank just went under. They are still getting a final count on what percentage of deposits are not insured, but I’ve seen 97% being floated around. That’s a lot of money potentially gone.

But we’re all tired of hearing about what we think happened or whether a buyer will come along. The much more important thing to talk about is what to do in a crisis situation.

Over-communicate. And then communicate some more.

One of the biggest mistakes I see organizations make during a crisis is their failure to communicate swiftly and with poise. Often organizations want to find all the facts and think about the right words to say. They want to focus on solving the problem.

Unfortunately, this is a big mistake. And it’s a mistake that happens all the time — such as in this crisis with SVB or during COVID or when employee allegations about abuse or harassment emerge, etc. Companies make this mistake over and over again — both big and small companies.

It is important to own your communications and use them to get ahead of a situation that is spiraling downwards. In fact, this is so critical that I’ve spent the last 2 days drafting communications for many of our portfolio companies in figuring (Read more...)

Revisiting stamps for email

This post is by Seth Godin from Seth's Blog

I started agitating for this in 1997 and wrote about it in 2006. The problem with the magical medium of email is that it’s an open API. Anyone with a computer can plug into it, without anyone’s consent.

This creates an asymmetric attention problem. The selfish, short-term-thinking sender benefits by emailing as many people as possible, and the recipients suffer.

This doesn’t happen with traditional mail, because there’s a cost to sending it.

With GPT arriving, expect that spam is going to increase 100x, and that it will be eerily personalized, invasive and persistent. That it will be really difficult to believe that an email isn’t junk, because there’s going to be so much junk, and it’s going to be harder to filter.

And yet, email is powerful, and convenient and we’ve been using it for our entire careers. Is it doomed?

Some apps are showing up that are trying to create a paywall for email. An unknown sender has to make a donation to charity (the recipient specifies the amount) to reach your inbox. People have tried this off and on for decades, but it’s hard. There are two problems with this being widely adopted.

The first is that it creates an attention obligation on the part of the recipient. It’s socially awkward to sell access to your inbox and then ignore the email.

The second is that there isn’t much of a network effect, and while a few people might adopt it, the problems with email don’t (Read more...)