In 2012 the award was shared equally between Björn Söderberg from Sweden and Michael Biddle from the U.S.A.
Björn Söderberg, entrepreneur and founder of the Fair Enterprise Network, has built up and developed responsible companies in Nepal in the area of sustainable waste recycling. At just 19, Björn Söderberg went to Nepal as a volunteer, where he encountered both poverty and a river full of refuse. Where many others see problems, Björn sees opportunities and potential. His optimism was a resource when starting his first company, Watabaran, which manufactures paper from waste, as well as in his latest company, Shuba Briquettes Pvt Ltd, which manufactures briquettes from industrial and factory waste. The companies combine profitable business activity with the fundamental values of ethics, democracy, and eco-awareness, contributing in this way to sustainable development.
The theme for this year’s Gothenburg Award for Sustainable Development is closing the loop. In comparison with nature’s eco-cycle in which waste products are of value in new processes, society’s current use of materials is unsustainable. Raw materials are converted into products and eventually become waste, leading to resource shortage, waste problems, and energy waste.
Entrepreneurship and new innovative solutions are required to break this trend and instead create functioning eco-cycles. The 2012 Gothenburg Award for Sustainable Development is awarded to Michael Biddle and Björn Söderberg for their significant efforts in this area.
Björn Söderberg is awarded the prize for both creating jobs and contributing to an increased eco-cycle approach through his entrepreneurship. He inspires others to see the potential of eco-aware entrepreneurship for solving social problems.