GET SWITCHED ON: GreenEconomy.tv introduces The Circular Economy Show

The Circular Economy Show

Every Wednesday at 1:00pm

Watch Gordon Brown, GreenEconomy.Media and Nolwazi Mbhele, environmental student, uncover the circular economy with Chris Whyte, African Circular Economy Network (ACEN)

Episode 1: Wednesday, 28 April at 1:00pm

Green economy literacy 1.01

  • What does circular economy mean, exactly?
  • How does the thinking overlap/dovetail with related topics like ‘recycling’, ‘zero waste’, ‘materials recovery’, ‘resource efficiency, etc?
  • Why has the term ‘circular economy’ become the leading terminology to describe the broad body of work and set of objectives?
  • Linear vs circular economy
  • Why a broad adoption of circular economy thinking makes business sense and will change the world

Enable human connection

Listen to the voices that reason

Demonstrate your true value

We believe that once presented with knowledge and information, decision-makers will make the right choice.

GreenEconomy.Media has launched GreenEconomy.tv, your online tv channel for all things related to those wanting to make sustainable sense.

GreenEconomy.tv delivers intelligent conversation about the conservation of people, planet, and power

GreenEconomy.Media is a multimedia publisher with South Africa’s leading green economy portal, powerful distribution channels, and social media platforms.

Interactive digital publications

Green Economy Journal delivers a high-quality reader and browser experience. Through its curated content by experts and thought leaders, Green Economy Journal reflects the sector in all its facets, and contributes, digitally to shaping its course.

Positive (+)Impact Magazine is the 2019 SAPOA award-winning publication and the official voice of the Green Building Council South Africa. +Impact Magazine offers best-of-class interactive digital publishing to a loyal network of like-minded readers from across the property value chain. We highlight the positive impact that sustainable buildings have on urban precincts, society, and the economy while returning maximum value to investors.

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Minister Barbara Creecy: World Circular Economy Forum and Climate, African Circular Economy Alliance

Address by Minister Barbara Creecy, Minister for Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Republic of South Africa – World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF) + Climate, African Circular Economy Alliance (ACEA)

Today is a unique opportunity to examine the ways in which circular economy initiatives are being mainstreamed and integrated throughout the African continent, as well as discussing the barriers, challenges and further steps to be taken in global and interregional cooperation.

The economies of the African continent have been severely affected by the global covid 19 pandemic and as we recover, we will have to use all  the innovative tools at our disposal in order to build back better. One of the important ways in which we can do this is by fully integrating circular economy initiatives into our nations’ recovery plans.

Ladies and gentlemen

At a country level, the circular economy is consistent with South Africa’s constitution, and our National Development plan both of which provide for environmental protection and sustainable use of our country’s natural resources.

Our country’s post-covid 19 Reconstruction and Recovery Plan includes a green economy component, which promotes waste recycling, renewable energy generation, revitalizing our ecotourism and forestry sectors; and retrofitting government buildings to improve climate resilience and save on water and energy consumption.

Last year, our government approved a revised National Waste Management Strategy which includes the implementation of circular economy practices. One of the main pillars of the strategy is waste minimization and the diversion of forty percent of waste from landfills within five years.

In consultation with industry and other role-players, we have published the Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations for the packaging, electronics and lighting sectors, for implementation, starting on the 5th May this year.  These regulations will establish producer responsibility schemes to lead in the reclaiming and recycling of waste in these three significant sectors.

A central focus of all our efforts has been to decrease plastic waste and enhance the recycling of plastics. This is in line with our commitment to reducing plastic waste in the environment and preventing this dangerous pollutant from entering our rivers and oceans.

Efforts here have spanned across the retail and fast food sector where we have seen significant initiatives by the Consumer Goods Council to eliminate single use plastics, promote changes in product design to facilitate recycling; and invest in R and D to promote new products made from plastic recyclate.

Government is also in the process of amending our plastic bag regulations. As a result, from the first of January this year, all plastic bags must be made of a minimum of 50% post-recyclate material, 75% recycled materials from the start of 2025, and must be comprised of 100% post-consumer recyclate by 2027.

These targets will be met by ensuring that post-consumer recyclate is made up of household, industrial and commercial waste diverted from landfills, thus further entrenching circularity in waste management and product development.

A key departure from the previous waste management strategy is the strategic shift to accommodate waste reclaimers and the informal sector, by addressing their role in the circular economy.

In many towns and cities in South Africa, waste reclaimers are important actors in diverting recyclable material from landfill. Investment here will be focused on the economies associated with transporting of recyclables to waste processing facilities, separation at source, and addressing the skills gaps within the sector. Central to our efforts is a commitment to ensuring we transition reclaimers from a precarious hand to mouth existence, to sustainable and dignified livelihoods.

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to reflect, in closing, on circular economy initiatives on the continent.

The implementation of the Africa Green Stimulus Programme (AGSP) is at the forefront of the continent’s response to the economic downturn caused by the covid 19 pandemic. Central to this Programme are principles of the circular economy.

Africa is the first region to establish a regional forum for circular economy implementation. This is a significant development for a continent with a growing population and a large informal business sector.

There is a very high level of cooperation amongst the members of the ACEA, which is further strengthened by the fact that they are also members of African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN) and members of the African Union.

Consequently, for both the AMCEN and the AU, the circular economy is high on the agenda. The first expert meeting on circular economy was held last year and work on the development of the AU Action Plan for Circular Economy has already begun.

South Africa and other members of the ACEA are also participants in a number of multilateral environmental agreements relating to the transboundary movement of waste and protection for the continent’s people from dumping of hazardous materials.

At a continental level, we want to see recycling growing  not only for effective waste management and resource use, but also  to help us in addressing our challenges relating to unemployment and economic recovery. Incorporating informal economy actors such as waste reclaimers and recyclers is crucial, particularly in areas where there is limited government waste management capacity.

However it is important to end by stressing that circularity cannot be successfully integrated into our economies without enhanced access to massively scaled-up support , investment and capacity building from developed nations. Collaboration between developed and developing countries is the only way in which we will be able to make meaningful interventions in the implementation of the circular economy.

Allow me to thank our important partners who are already taking up this challenge including the World Economy Forum (WEF), Partnership for Accelerating Circular Economy (PACE), African Circular Economy Network (ACEN), Government of Finland, African Development Bank (AfDB), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Global Environment Facility (GEF), European Union (EU), amongst others.

This spirit of collaboration and mutual support is necessary, and will be the key to the ways in which African nations navigate the post-covid 19 landscape.

I thank you.

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How to move from laggard to leader in the circular economy

The circular economy is characterised by closing the linear material cycles so that all end-of-life materials are used as input for new product cycles. This alternative way of doing business helps ensure a truly sustainable future. Achieving this transition would require unprecedented and radical change, given that today only around nine percent of all materials are reused with circular practices.

Our world faces a rising resource scarcity and waste problem. More than 100-billion tons of materials are processed globally every year—a staggering 13 tons per person—and more than 91 percent of these materials are newly extracted from the ground. The fundamental cause of these problems is the value chains that currently dominate our industries. Their linear nature systemically degrades our environment by promoting the extraction of finite resources and the disposal of materials at their end of life.

In a recent survey of about 150 companies across the globe, Kearney found that companies that have taken the lead in implementing and integrating circular initiatives into their operations are already reaping monetary and reputational benefits as a direct result of these activities.

The benefits of doing so are evident: our study shows that improved results from the implementation of circular practices do not accrue from differences in industry, company size, or material use but through deliberate choices in strategy.

The future is bright, the future is green

Increasing numbers of consumers are waking up to the fact that our linear economy of use and dispose has negative consequences for the planet. Most of society is worried about what will be left of the environment for their children if we don’t change the way we do business now.

A circular economy is defined as an economy where the value of products, materials, and resources is maintained in the economy for as long as possible and the generation of waste is minimised. Circular economy strategies have clear principles of action. They ensure that the value of materials is preserved for as long as possible to minimize the generation of waste. And they use all end-of-life wastes as new inputs to create products and materials that remain in use, while replacing fossil fuel and raw materials with renewables.

This approach is already driving dividends because customers “are the engine of top-line revenue growth” and there is increasing demand among them for green goods and services. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals—which aim to put the world on a more sustainable footing by 2030—present $12 trillion in market opportunities in four economic systems: food and agriculture, cities, energy and materials, and health and well-being.

This presents business leaders with a unique opportunity to transform their companies for the future by analysing and adopting best practices when it comes to the circular economy. By shifting priorities from pure profit to protecting the planet, corporations can solve problems and create popular services. “If they are successful at doing this,” the World Economic Forum (WEF) has noted, “shareholder long-term returns can increase, as society-in-general is better served.”

In our own circular benchmarking survey, we identified 34 percent of respondents as “leaders” in circular economy (see figure 1). These businesses reported more than five percent improvement in core key performance indicators (KPIs) after switching to circular economy approaches and business models. Around a third of those leaders reported revenue increases and cost savings (see figure 1, 32 percent and 38 percent leaders reporting respectively). But the circular approach does not begin and end with the bottom line: of this group, 50 percent reported an increase in customer loyalty and 70 percent an increase in brand recognition.

What’s special about circular leaders?

There is a clear difference in approach and behavior between those that currently lead the way when it comes to the circular economy and those that are transforming at a slower pace.

This is seen across industries and is clearly defined by the following three factors:

Setting strategy and targets

According to our study, about 40 percent of companies place circular economy on their sustainability agenda (see figure 2). But leaders in this field are much more likely to include it either as a stand-alone element or embed it within their business unit or functional strategy. In fact, 28 percent have formulated a road map to reach total circularity in the future, compared to only 7 percent for others.

The defining factor between those that lead and those that follow is an appreciation that establishing circularity is not merely an item to be added to the overall corporate social responsibility agenda—to improve reputation cosmetically—but to make the circular approach utterly integral to their core business.

A combination of first establishing, then maintaining, strategic focus and continuously employing measurable KPIs shows that focused circular activity produces tangible results.

Partnerships and relationships

Success in the circular economy is built on the power of partnerships: twice the share of companies that lead in this field are partnering with other entities within their own industry, across other industries, or with relevant NGOs compared to the rest of the respondents (see figure 3). This split is even higher when it comes to interactions with policymakers (three times) and investors and financiers (four times). Market leaders also engage much more actively within their value chain, with an especially strong differentiation when it comes to the supplier side (84 percent versus 53 percent) and the customer (74 percent versus 58 percent).

This illustrates how the new economy takes shape. A radical transformation of the way business is done—placing stakeholder needs on par with shareholders—means circular strategies must become fundamental: the circular economy cannot be effectively pursued by one company alone. By definition, the whole value chain plays a part, as do intricate interactions and interplay across industries. Material flows and dependencies will always be highly interconnected, and the very nature of circularity implies intimate links between all players.

Companies that aim to excel in the circular economy must take a comprehensive approach, establishing relationships with a large group of diverse stakeholders while developing, enhancing, and distinguishing their overall capabilities.

Internal resources and operating model

Appropriate investment of internal human resources is essential to developing circular economy models, and our data illustrates that 94 percent of our leaders dedicate staff to circular economy activities, compared to 52 percent for the other respondents (see figure 4).

Typically, most companies bundle their resources within their sustainability team or into a dedicated circular economy unit, or embed them directly within operations. Circular leaders, on average, appoint more than double the number of full-time employees to circular activities to establish the principles of the circular economy within their whole business.

The allocation of human resources is 2.5 times higher for circular leaders, which are on average committing six to 14 full-time employees (FTEs) for circular activities compared to other companies dedicating just two to six FTEs for this purpose.

Choose circular benefits

Leaders in circular endeavors exist in all industries (including services, consumer goods, chemicals, energy, materials, and metals and mining) and in companies of all sizes, with a slight overrepresentation among businesses valued at more than $2 billion (46 percent as compared with 33 percent) (see figure 5).

Comparing our respondents in terms of material use in their business, companies are still using on average 32 percent virgin nonrenewable sources. What differentiates leaders in this respect is a higher level of transparency when it comes to material use—in other words, leaders largely know where their material originates and have clarity on the supply chain players. Only a third of material origin remains unknown in leading companies as opposed to 44 percent unknown material use for followers. Nevertheless, supply chain transparency and material origins continue to be a challenge.

Circular pioneers demonstrate that introducing circular business models drives competitive advantage.

Take Desso. The 13,000-employee US company developed a new type of carpet that can be fully recycled and reprocessed whenever its customers want a change. Thus, they introduced a new product as a service model instead of just selling carpets. They live out their use and are then taken back to be used as raw material for new carpet. Within five years of implementing this strategy in 2007, Desso improved its EBIT from 1 percent to 9 percent and increased its EU market share from 15 percent to 23 percent while cutting energy consumption in half.

Household names are also keen to help create new economy. Swedish furniture giant Ikea is committed to achieving a fully circular business model by 2030. Currently, around 80 percent of its furnishings are produced in accordance with circular design principles and last year the company reduced its carbon footprint while continuing to grow.

Also, companies outside of manufacturing industries take inspiration from circularity as a concept. Cars are shared among multiple users via peer-to-peer platforms (such as Zipcar) and clothing is rented as needed (for example, Rent the Runway).

Such transformations clearly demonstrate that placing environmental considerations front and center can boost both a company’s financial performance and its future resilience. As the WEF has noted, “climate change, water management, and other aspects of environmental stewardship are increasingly recognized as bottom-line issues in a world where technology, regulation, and other features of the operating environment can change quickly.”

The circular nature of life

Our study shows that it is possible to reap benefits from integrating circular economy strategies and that those that lead in this field are already achieving monetary and reputational benefits.

Such success is rooted in developing a strong strategic focus in what the company wants to achieve with circularity, while building strong internal capabilities and using the power of partnerships to make such aspirations a reality.

Each industry is different, but the underlying principle is consistent. To date, most of the materials we use, we lose—and the value inherent in them is lost too, often after a very short period of time. This is a symptom of the old, linear way of doing business: the “take-make-waste” economy is not sustainable in the long term.

As we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the path toward a circular economy should be made clear for future generations. This entails a radical shift in business models and a radical rethink of value creation today (see figure 6).

For some products, sales and ownership must become a thing of the past, and rental, sharing, or incentivized return a thing of the future. Envisioning such circularity has to begin at the design stage, but it will yield ever more profound benefits while slowing the seemingly irreversible impacts already wrought by industrial production methods to date.

Building in circularity from the start of the design process means less waste ending up in a landfill or openly dumped in nature. But not only this, it can lead to the design and manufacturing of better products, improved relationships with customers, and savings in energy and resources. Through design it will be possible to address the underlying causes of environmental challenges rather than struggling to cure the symptoms.

This may involve fundamentally reimagining business models: emphasizing access over ownership or prioritizing performance over new products, as well as keeping items in use for longer even as they are used more intensively. Strategy is vital to this and must be specifically tailored according to individual, carefully analyzed circumstances while keeping product functionality the same.

Companies of scale may use their size to drive circularity into the mainstream, enhancing their own brands with eco-credentials and inspiring others around the world to follow their lead. Smaller companies, meanwhile, may utilize their nimbler natures to invest in people and introduce faster changes to their products and services that appeal to their customers.

To address the needs of companies trying to understand and incorporate the benefits of the circular economy to maximize all potential benefits, we have developed a set of offerings to support companies throughout their entire circular journey (see figure 6).

The companies that do so will not only be ahead of the curve, they will lead the future cycle.

Courtesy: www.kearney.com

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VIDEO | The Circular Economy: A simple explanation

Cillian Lohan | TEDxYouth@EEB3

What is a Circular Economy? Why should we care? What does it mean for us? In this talk, Cillian Lohan, CEO of an Irish NGO, the Green Economy Foundation, will explain the basic principles behind the economic concept of a circular economy and how it can really change the world for the better.

Cillian Lohan leads an Irish NGO, Green Economy Foundation. A member of the European Economic and Social Committee since 2014, he was recently selected as rapporteur for the Circular Economy Package. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.

Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx

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GET SWITCHED ON: GreenEconomy.tv introduces The Circular Economy Show

The Circular Economy Show

Every Wednesday at 1:00pm

Watch Gordon Brown, GreenEconomy.Media and Nolwazi Mbhele, environmental student, uncover the circular economy with Chris Whyte, African Circular Economy Network (ACEN)

Episode 1: Wednesday, 28 April at 1:00pm

Green economy literacy 1.01

  • What does circular economy mean, exactly?
  • How does the thinking overlap/dovetail with related topics like ‘recycling’, ‘zero waste’, ‘materials recovery’, ‘resource efficiency, etc?
  • Why has the term ‘circular economy’ become the leading terminology to describe the broad body of work and set of objectives?
  • Linear vs circular economy
  • Why a broad adoption of circular economy thinking makes business sense and will change the world

Enable human connection

Listen to the voices that reason

Demonstrate your true value

We believe that once presented with knowledge and information, decision-makers will make the right choice.

GreenEconomy.Media has launched GreenEconomy.tv, your online tv channel for all things related to those wanting to make sustainable sense.

GreenEconomy.tv delivers intelligent conversation about the conservation of people, planet, and power

GreenEconomy.Media is a multimedia publisher with South Africa’s leading green economy portal, powerful distribution channels, and social media platforms.

Interactive digital publications

Green Economy Journal delivers a high-quality reader and browser experience. Through its curated content by experts and thought leaders, Green Economy Journal reflects the sector in all its facets, and contributes, digitally to shaping its course.

Positive (+)Impact Magazine is the 2019 SAPOA award-winning publication and the official voice of the Green Building Council South Africa. +Impact Magazine offers best-of-class interactive digital publishing to a loyal network of like-minded readers from across the property value chain. We highlight the positive impact that sustainable buildings have on urban precincts, society, and the economy while returning maximum value to investors.

View more

Advancing circularity and sustainable consumption

STATEMENT | By MS BARBARA CREECY, Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

The dialogue is arranged as part of the SA Recycling Week activities aimed at raising awareness to consumers and businesses on environment and climate impact of waste, promoting clean and sustainable waste management practices that minimise environmental impacts by adopting and transitioning to new innovative means that assist in reduction, reuse, repurpose, recycle or upcycle of waste material.

Greetings,

Thank you very much for inviting me today to open this circular economy dialogue

We meet during a very challenging and difficult time when the country is currently grappling with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. We all have been affected; as a result of the pandemic there has been minimal economic activity, jobs have been lost, industries and businesses have downsized or completely closed shop. Across the world, governments are working on economic recovery strategies.

For many countries, placing their economies on a more sustainable growth path is central to these strategies. South Africa has also realised that green industries can open up new possibilities for development and assist in creating much-needed jobs. The waste management sector has a strong potential to innovate and improve socio-economic conditions and contribute to sustainable development and resource use.

Regionally, South Africa is a founding member of the African Circular Economy Alliance which started when UNEP, South Africa, Rwanda and Nigeria agreed to take the outcomes of the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN) forward in partnership with the World Economic Forum (WEF).

This innovative programme was launched in Germany in 2017, at UNFCCC COP 23. The Alliance is open to all African Countries and we have joined hands with other states to facilitate, promote and support the transition towards a circular economy on our continent. The recent AMCEN Bureau has instructed the Alliance to ramp up the implementation of the circular economy in Africa.

We also participate in the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), of which I am the current President. The AMCEN Bureau together with the African Union proposed an “African Green Stimulus Programme” that will contribute meaningfully towards the broader African Post-Covid-19 Response Programme.  Improving waste management by means of adopting principles of a circular economy is one of the focus areas.

Here at home, we aligned policy and strategy with the circular economy concept.

I am pleased to share with you today, that last week, Cabinet approved the National Waste Management Strategy 2020.

The National Waste Management Strategy 2020 is aimed at promoting the waste hierarchy and circular economy principles while achieving both socio-economic benefits and the reduction of negative environmental impacts.

Key to this are the three Pillars of the National Waste Management Strategy which are: promoting waste minimisation, efficient and effective waste services and awareness-raising, compliance monitoring and enforcement.

The National Waste Management Strategy 2020 builds on the successes and lessons from the implementation of that 2011 strategy. The NWMS provides government policy and strategic interventions for the waste sector and is aligned and responsive to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of Agenda 2030 adopted by all United Nations (UN) member States. It is also aligned and consistent with South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP): Vision 2030 which is our country’s specific response to, and integration of the SDGs into our overall socio-economic development plans.

Significant strategic shifts from the 2011 strategy made in the NWMS 2020 include:

·        Addressing the role of waste pickers and the informal sector in the circular economy;

·        Promoting approaches to the design of products and packaging that reduce waste or encourage reuse, repair and preparation for recycling, support markets for source separated recyclables;

·        Investigating potential regulatory or economic interventions to increase participation rates in residential separation at source programmes;

·        Investing in the economies associated with transporting of recyclables to waste processing facilities;

·        Addressing the skills gap within the sector; and

·        Engagement with the National Treasury regarding the operational expenditures for municipalities associated with implementing the NWMS and Waste Act.

This year my Department embarked on an extensive consultation process to initiate Extended Producer Responsibility for the following products:

  • Paper and packaging
  • Electrical and electronic equipment
  • Lighting

This gives effect to Section 18 of the National Environmental Management Waste Act, 2008 and also charts the new approach to the management of waste in South Africa.  This will make a significant contribution in the diversion of waste from landfilling, thereby increasing the recycling rate to achieve the objectives of the National Waste Management Strategy.  This programme will ensure that waste pickers are fully integrated in the recycling value chain.

The Department has also taken strides by ensuring the necessary product design changes that embrace circularity for the manufacturing of plastic carrier bags. We have received extensive comments on the amendments of the plastic carrier bags Regulations, and I am pleased that we are moving in the right direction to prevent and manage plastic pollution.

Despite the setbacks faced with the Section 28 process for waste tyres, in November 2019 I commissioned the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in terms of section 29 of the Waste Act to develop an industry waste management plan for the waste tyre sector.  This process has not been without its difficulties but following recent interactions we hope to issue a version which is fully compliant with the regulatory environment later this year

Other initiatives that we hope will promote the circular economy include the exclusion regulations that recognise material that can be used for beneficiation purposes without requiring a waste licence. I have approved 48 applications for the beneficial use of several waste materials, thus unblocking obstacles and promoting the full implementation of the waste management hierarchy. We are continuing with the implementation of Programmes such as the Recycling Enterprise Support Programme, and Chemicals and Waste Economy Phakisa initiatives that contribute to job creation while diverting waste away from landfill. We are also taking time to rethink and reimagine how these programmes can further enhance the demand for waste materials in order to close the loop.

I am aware that most stakeholders participating in this webinar today are also contributing in the implementation of circular economy initiatives in one way or another. I want to take this opportunity to thank you in advance for your contributions. I would also like to challenge you to assist our country to recover from the effects of the current Covid-19 pandemic.

Keeping the national policy framework, and local and global economic landscape in mind, during the course of today’s webinar I would like you to consider the following:

·        First and foremost how our sector can contribute to job retention and job creation at a living wage.

·        How our work can formalise and strengthen small enterprises who are the backbone of any successful economic system.

·        How we create and expand markets for recyclable products so that our circular economy is demand lead and therefore sustainable.

·         How we further reform the regulatory environment to incentivise reuse and recyclying rather than landfill disposal

·        And how in the context of a constrained fiscal environment we can ensure more effective waste services at local level. 

·        And of course lastly but most importantly how we strengthen our existing partnership between government, business and communities to bring about more sustainable livng and working communities.

The Green Economy is one of the four sectors that have been prioritised by Government to assist with economic recovery.

The disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic makes this an opportune moment to usher in the necessary policy changes linked to EPR including product composition targets that would catalyse economic green recovery and will set us on the circular economy trajectory.

READ MORE IN THE GREEN ECONOMY JOURNAL
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Low hanging fruit can move SA circular economy efforts forward

Circular economy progress needs more collaboration, decentralised infrastructure.

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