The era of ‘D’ manages stocks of atoms and molecules – chemical elements – with the objective of maintaining the highest value and purity of these stocks. De-polymerizing, de-laminating, de-vulcanising used objects, and deconstruction of built structures enable recovering molecules. The higher the value preserved, the higher the waste manager’s profit and incentive to prevent waste.
This implies a cultural change in waste management, from volume reduction to value capture and from managing secondary resources to smart collection and sorting processes. In the area of the built environment, recent policy interests in resource security and resource efficiency has fuelled research into the stock of materials embodied in existing infrastructure and constructions.
The non-destructive collection of used goods and unmixed collection of used materials creates an attitude of caring in customers and increases the profitability of the resource-cum-waste manager. Skilled workers in the era of ‘D’ will find opportunities in commerce – developing markets between owners of used goods and potential buyers of the eras of ‘R’ and of ‘D’ – and in research to identify and develop innovative process technologies to recover pure molecules.