The Clean Tech News
The Crucial Importance of Amazon’s Continuing Commitment to Green Practice

E-Commerce Innovations: Spotlighting Amazon’s Focus on Sustainability
The current economic climate is one saturated with fear, with the BBC reporting the UK economy could be set to contract by 35% as a result of COVID-19. Although small businesses remain most vulnerable, financial uncertainties continue to affect the vast majority of corporations, forced to furlough numerous employees, alongside declining productivity and income. As we transition into this period of fiscal austerity, many fear previous environmental initiatives will soon be overlooked, with leadership prioritising survival of commerce over the survival of the planet.

However, with the closure of traditional high street shops and ‘non-essential’ services, many are turning to online alternatives to fulfil their everyday needs. Therefore, within this commercial vacuum, online transnationals are among a handful of corporations that seek to gain from social distancing measures – the most influential of which is online e-commerce giant Amazon.

Combining retail, streaming and cloud technology, Amazon’s financial estimation are one of few that have increased during the pandemic, with MarketWatch reporting an increase of +0.25% in 2020. Alongside confirmed increases in traffic, Amazon recently announced plans to bring on an additional 75,000 staff on top of the 100,000 hired since March, reinforcing this rhetoric of growth. Although profit impacts are as yet unknown, this commercial security represents the unique capacity of e-commence to set industry standards in the continuance of green practice. It also makes these measures more crucial than ever, as with increasing trade, each step towards sustainability has a more significant impact.

Existing Policy Framework

At the heart of Amazon’s sustainable policy is its pioneering ‘Climate Pledge’: a commitment to be net carbon zero by 2040, 10 years before the proposed targets of the 2015 Paris Agreement. With COP26 recently postponed, this huge commitment is particularly poignant, representing a clear manifestation of their guiding principle of ‘long-term thinking’, and setting an ambitious precedent for other corporations to follow.

Within this umbrella commitment, Amazon’s focus centres around green energy. Aiming for 80% renewable energy by 2024, at present Amazon’s 26 existing solar and wind projects currently producing 6.2 million MWh of clean energy annually, indicating their goals are potentially within reach. Alongside these efforts, Amazon announced plans for ‘Shipment Zero’ in 2019, with the goal of 50% zero carbon shipments by 2030 – a halfway point to carbon neutrality in 2040, including policies aimed at transport, infrastructure, and packaging.

Current Development

Following the emergence of COVID-19, Amazon’s response has been centred primarily around employee safety, support, and innovation. As outlined in Day One (Amazon’s online blog forum), their efforts have been diverse, from supporting the World Health Organisation with technical expertise and cloud technologies, to pledging $20 million to customer-driven diagnostic solutions. Following significant critique regarding worker safety, social concerns have now come into focus, sourcing millions of masks for both employees and frontline workers, coupled with initiatives focused on facilitating out of classroom learning, including donation of 8,200 laptops to Seattle Public School children.

In terms of sustainability, although news within their sustainability sector has remained relatively quiet, the company has made no indication of plans to halt programs of sustainability. Indeed, Amazon HQ press releases from mid-March outline the continuation of renewable energy initiatives, including four new wind and solar projects in Australia, Sweden, Spain and the US estimated to produce around 840,000 MWh of energy annually (enough to power 76,000 US homes). Additionally, early last month, Day One contributor Meg Coyle detailed the unveiling of a new fleet of electric delivery vehicles, whose design centres around core principles of safety and sustainability. Produced by Rivian, these feature Alexa voice control, smart VR headsets integrated into Amazon’s logistics management, and intelligent occupant cabin thermal controls systems, reported to reduce energy inefficiencies. A key strategy of The Climate Pledge, and indeed Shipment Zero, Amazon announced plans to have 10,000 operational by 2022, with 100,000 on the road by 2030.

Alongside pure sustainability focus, Day One provides guidance to businesses as they attempt to navigate remote work. Through articles such as ‘How to Lead without leaving Home’, other businesses can equip themselves with the tools to maintain productivity and moral within these new, challenging working environments. As such, Amazon is providing the potential capacity for other businesses to succeed, and thus for them to maintain the economic capacity to focus on facilitating green initiatives.

With sustainable e-commerce policies more crucial than ever, we applaud Amazon for their efforts so far, and encourage them to maintain their policies, even within these troubled times. For Amazon’s detailed policies of sustainability, please see here, or for more information about net zero corporate initiatives, click here.

Changing Our Conception of Food: The Importance of CleanTech in the Food Industry

Developments in CleanTech towards carbon net zero may seem outside of the individual’s everyday life. However, this is not the case. Rather, the revolutionising food industry is encouraging the consumption of CleanTech.

In the past few years, there has been a marked departure from traditional meat and dairy consumption, with animal products being replaced by ‘sustainable’ alternatives. This trend away from animal based foods is driven largely by the increased prevalence of ethical consumption patterns including vegetarianism, flexitarianism and veganism. Although, behind these social labels lies a transforming food industry looking to reduce carbon emissions in the production of new and alternative food products.

Fundamentally, reducing meat consumption is kinder to the environment, with cattle alone producing more greenhouse gas emissions than cars, making the beef and dairy industry responsible for 9 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans. A recent study from the FAO shows that the total emissions from global livestock is 7.1 gigatons of Co2 equivalent per year, which is 14.5 percent of all human greenhouse gas emissions.

In light of these statistics, there has been a growing international consensus that consumption patterns have to change. As of 2019, 92% of plant-based meals are consumed by 22 million flexitarians across the UK presenting the increasing growth of cleaner eating. However, an important caveat to this remains the US, with meat demand and consumption on the rise in, contributing $270 billion to the $1.4 trillion global meat industry. It is important to note that the complications associated with large-scale farming are not limited to greenhouse gas emissions; multiple complications span from health issues, animal welfare and waste production.

Yet the meat-alternative market is undeniably trendy. It’s clear to see with fast-food franchise giants such as Greggs and KFC jumping on the band wagon to produce vegan alternatives of their products in a deal with meat-alternative frontrunner Quorn. This development followed strong consumer demand and a PETA petition signed by more than 20,000 people.

So, are meat alternatives actually the solution?

The technology surrounding the meat alternative companies such as Quorn is the use of mycroproteins grown in laboratories which are said to have 70 percent lower carbon footprint than chicken. Furthermore, since 2017, Quorn’s carbon impact has reduced by 32 percent through their own efforts and additionally through CleanTech developments from their supply chain and the decarbonisation of the grid. Quorn detail in their 2019 sustainability report that they are the first global meat alternative brand to achieve certification by the Carbon Trust of its carbon footprint figures.

A CleanTech and Climate Change Podcast with CEO, Patrick Morris, of Eat Beyond Global Investment Fund uncovered the successes of investment into plant-based foods. Morris discusses the motivation for the fund, suggesting that him and his team noticed the rapidly growing market with $17 billion invested in plant based food industry in 2018, with a 39 percent increase in investment deals compared to 2017. He goes on to note massive companies investing in foodtech and plant-based alternatives, suggesting that corporates are noticing the new direction of the food industry and are “putting their money where their mouth is.”

Prior to COVID, Morris notes that numbers were moving slowly towards plant-based, remarking that 32 percent of American’s consider themselves flexitarians. In the midst of the crisis, however, the trends have been amplified as health consciousness rises, especially considering the connection between animal consumption and the spread of disease, Morris states.

With the rise of investment, variety and the availability of plant-based products and meat alternatives, the popularity of consuming less animal produce grows, as does the reduction of livestock emissions. Initiatives such as Meat Free Monday and Veganuary are inspiring populations in the right direction, as the food industry revolutionises itself towards a cleaner future.

For more information please see: Eat Forum, Impossible Foods, Barclays. Also, see the work of plant-based companies such as Beyond Meat, Oatly, Just.

Bayer: Diminishing Carbon Emissions in Agriculture

Twenty years ago, pharmaceutical company Bayer, signed a commitment to protecting the environment. CleanTech News looks into their sustainable success today.
In 2000, when the concerns of climate change were a fraction of what they are today, The United Nations invited companies to sign up to the Global Compact.

The Global Compact comprised of ten principles, which focused on areas such as human rights, labour standards, environmental protection and the fight against corruption.

Bayer, the pharmaceutical company behind such household brands as Aspirin™, Canesten™, Iberogast™ and Rennie™, was one of the first companies to sign up.

In the two decades since, Bayer has committed to fight against bribery, guarantee fair labour and elevate human rights, but it is the environment, where Bayer has made the most progress in regards to the Global Compact.

Greenhouse gasses
If the emission of greenhouse gases continue at their present rate, the temperature of our planet is expected to rise. Scientists tell us a mere 1.5 degrees would be catastrophic: ice caps will melt and thus sea levels will surge. The amount of land for humans to live (and farm) on, will shrink, putting our already densely populated planet at risk of famine.

Bayer is aware that some of its business components are adding to emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrogen oxide, all of which accelerate climate change. But by 2030, Bayer plans to be carbon-neutral. To do this, the company plans to move to 100% renewable energy.

Farmers at the beginning of the Bayer supply chain are also being encouraged to move towards a carbon neutral future: using climate-smart tools and practices which help to decrease greenhouse gasses from being emitted.

Agriculture, the science of farming, includes the growing of crops, as well as the domestication of animals for meat and dairy, which accounts for 24% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.

There are over one billion cows on the planet, all of which naturally emit the greenhouse gas methane, as well as millions of fuelled farming apparatus used to produce the food.

The worldwide transportation of supplies also contributes to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, as seasonal products travel across the sea. But by 2030, Bayer plans to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from their farmers by 30%.

Bayer is working to produce superior solutions for weed-control, which will allow farmers to reduce the practice of tilling: when tractors are used to prepare the land for seeds. Doing so will create a huge reduction in the fossil fuel emissions of the vehicles used. Furthermore, untilled soil is more able to store carbon.

One adverse effect of animal agriculture, is that to meet the demand for meat and dairy, farmers need more land for the animals to graze on.

In order to vacate land, trees can be cut or burned down, which leads to an increase in carbon-dioxide emissions and a reduction in the levels of oxygen produced.

This practice gained attention in Brazil in 2019, as deliberate forest fires which devastated indigenous communities were internationally condemned. Bayer stood against this, by signing up to the “Brazilian Coalition for climate, forest and agriculture”, which encourages the protection of Brazilian rainforests.

The company works with farmers, helping them to utilise their land in the most productive ways, including cordoning off land to preserve animal sanctuaries, instead of using it for farming.

Sustainable success
Whilst Bayer is on target, it has already achieved a great deal of recognition for its commitment to the climate.

International ratings non-profit CDP, also known as the “Carbon Disclosure Project” annually reviews public corporate data relating to the climate and creates a ranking.

The CDP has consistently declared Bayer to be a leader in sustainability, awarding it an A in the climate category. Out of 8,000 companies, only 2% achieved this rating.

In addition to this, CDP, rated Bayer with a top score of “A”, for its commitment to water security. Bayer assists farmers in implementing adequate irrigation and is studying how to help seeds grow on less water.

Furthermore, international rating agency, EcoVadis, has awarded Bayer the Gold level for company-wide sustainability management. This is Bayer’s third Gold level rating and places Bayer in the top 5% of all companies assessed.

EcoVadis examines the sustainability performance of companies in four categories, to which Bayer scored 75/100: Environment, Labor & Human Rights, Fair Business Practices & Ethics, and Sustainable Procurement.

But even with such achievements and recognition, Bayer is not slowing down. The company is now focusing on how to help seeds continue growing in climates that suffer from severe flooding.

TALA – How this Sustainable Athleisure Brand is Making Waves in the Fashion Industry

TALA talks cleantech, sustainability, and the future of the slow fashion industry.
The negative impact of the fashion industry has been well documented, ranging from ethical concerns over working conditions, to its extraordinary environmental impact.

According to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the total footprint of clothing in use in the UK, including global and territorial emissions, was 26.2 million tonnes CO2, and 8 billion m3 of water in 2016. To put this in perspective, this means that the average annual clothing footprint for a British household (including washing and cleaning) equals the amount of CO2 produced driving 6,000 miles in a modern car, and the amount of water needed to fill 1,000 bathtubs.

Responsible for widespread environmental degradation, resource consumption, and waste, the biggest culprit has undoubtedly been the rise of fast fashion, and the constant cycle of replacement many deem necessary to keep up with ever-changing trends.

Despite the staggering effects of these consumption patterns, many outlets have been reluctant to change, blaming logistical difficulties, profit margins, or consumers for supporting their damaging operations.

However, with the emergence of British Athleisure brand TALA, these excuses no longer hold firm, as this sustainable label continue to break down barriers to sustainable slow-fashion consumption.

The Impact of TALA
Launched in May 2019 by fitness influencer and entrepreneur Grace Beverly, TALA exploded onto the athleisure scene, amassing a revenue of £5.2 million despite only recently celebrating its first birthday.

A market notoriously difficult to conquer, TALA’s focus on sustainable, high-performance activewear at the competitive market price has captured the interest of consumers around the world. Having recently diversified, with collections now spanning loungewear, streetwear and accessories, their launches are a testament to their success, regularly selling out in a matter of minutes.

“Sustainability is one of our key USPs and definitely a key factor in our growth,” a TALA representative told CleanTech News, with ethicality built into TALA’s business model from the outset.

Beginning first with production, TALA ensures that their garments are made using over 92% upcycled or recycled materials, using either offcuts or plastic bottles that would previously have gone to landfill.

Based in a cutting-edge facility in Portugal, the Polyamide used in manufacture is created using a recycled fibre called Q-NOVA. Certified and traced by the Global Recycle Standard system, the European ECOLABEL EU system and by the OEKO-TEX STD 100 CLASS I system, technology reduces water consumption by 90%, and emissions by 80% compared to other polyamide yarn.

In addition, through the use of recycled cotton in hoodies and joggers, TALA saves 4817 litres of water per tonne of recycled cotton used compared to cotton grown. Meanwhile, even their tags avoid waste, containing seeds and made of 100% plantable paper.

However, as their representative explains:

“Due to the emphasis we place on sustainability of materials, we have had to make sacrifices – we don’t have the profit margins of the bigger, non-sustainable brands, but it’s important to us that we stay true to our values and continue to deliver on our promise to our customers.”

The Future of Slow Fashion
“Through the launch of TALA, we have demonstrated that there is huge demand for sustainability across the apparel industry, and encourage our audience every day to vote with their money and choose to shop sustainably.

We use our social platforms to empower people to make better choices and to hold big brands accountable, so we hope to see brands across all industries continue to adopt a more sustainable and ethical approach to the production of their products,” TALA told CleanTech News.

However, for many businesses the rise of COVID-19 represents a significant, and unexpected obstacle. However, it seems one that TALA is well prepared to overcome.

“Our biggest concern is obviously that we are keeping the team and our workers safe.” TALA told CleanTech News. “We plan collections several months in advance so our stock for the last few months was already in our fulfilment centre in the UK and thankfully, TALA hasn’t been adversely affected. We are experiencing delays on samples for upcoming collections and we are working with third party partners to ensure we are communicating any delays in shipping orders to our customers.”

Looking to the long term, TALA told CleanTech News:

“Cleantech is important across all industries, and fashion as a major polluter also needs to make wholesale changes moving forward. We are trying to show there is another way. As the digital landscape continues to grow, this emphasis will also move to better options for consumer deliveries to be more efficient.”

Addressing the future impacts of COVID-19, TALA’s spokesperson said:

“The nature of the slow-fashion industry means our processes have a longer timeline and therefore need planning further in advance. We hope that fast-fashion brands have used this time to reflect on their processes and that we see a greener, more ethical future for the apparel industry moving forwards.”

Clean Ocean Movement: Ending Plastic Pollution

It’s up to us to make changes that are necessary to end the ocean plastic pollution. See how these organisations are on the mission to make a difference.
Plastic pollution in the ocean has a vast and harmful influence on its wildlife and habitats. From Arctic to Antarctic, it is found in every corner of the ocean.

Plastic is an exceptional material that has incredible benefits in our everyday lives and has contributed to many advances in some industries like health care, food safety and water storage. However, the majority of disposable consumer goods end up in landfills, littering not only landscapes, but also oceans.

In fact, around 8 million tonnes of plastic waste enters oceans annually. If no significant action is taken over the next few decades, the world may end up with 400 million tonnes of plastic waste by 2025. At this rate, there may be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.

Luckily, there are startups and other organisations that are taking the lead, making the much-needed changes. Let’s take a look at some of the companies that are on the mission to clean and reduce the plastic in the ocean and save the planet.

Yardbird – “What ends up on ocean floors now lives outdoors”
The Minneapolis-based brand Yardbird is a startup that makes high-quality patio and outdoor furniture in part from recycled plastic sourced from the beaches and ocean-bound waterways.

The company brought more than 92,000 pounds of plastic in 2019 into their furniture and packaging and has already incorporated around 75,000 lbs this year– meaning almost 50 percent of every item of wicker furniture contains the recycled material. Yardbird has also proven to be an attractive company to invest in even in the midst of the global pandemic – the startup has raised $4.4 million in funding.

Yardbird carries a commitment to sustainability and works hard to minimise the industry’s impact on the planet. The company is also partnering with a non-profit organisation CarbonFund to offset its entire carbon footprint.

4ocean – Pulling a pound of trash from the ocean for each purchased bracelet
4ocean was founded by two American surfers who, after their surf trip to Bali, discovered beaches covered in plastic and watched waves filled with trash delivering even more garbage to the coastline.

The two men started a business model that would help them fund their mission to clean the ocean by creating a 4ocean bracelet made of at least 90 percent post-consumer recycled material.

The purchase of these bracelets funds the removal of one pound of trash from the ocean, rivers and coastlines. It also helps them pay workers, fund cleanups and spread the message about a massive plastic pollution problem.

Furthermore, the organisation has launched a Closed-Loop Program which aims to eliminate waste at the end of the product lifecycle by taking back 4ocean items that their customers no longer use or need and recycle them into new products. In addition, the company has already donated over $450,000 to marine conservation organisations around the world.

The Ocean Cleanup – The largest cleanup in history

The Ocean Cleanup is a non-profit organisation based in the Netherlands that develops technology to remove plastic waste from the oceans and rivers. In fact, it is planning to extract 90% of floating plastic by 2040.

The organisation is developing a passive ocean cleanup technology that moves with the currents to catch the plastic as it is believed to be a much more reasonable solution than going after the plastic with vessels and nets which is a costly, time-consuming and labour-intensive process.

The Ocean Cleanup has developed the first scalable solution called The Interceptor™ to prevent plastic from going in the ocean from rivers. It is a 100 percent solar-powered construction that can be placed in the majority of the world’s most polluting rivers.

For more information on plastic pollution solutions, please see this article on integrating plastic into the circular economy, as well as how this scientist is turning plastic into other valuable materials. Also, click here to see how this teenager is making plastic out of shrimps.

E-Commerce Site Etsy to Offset All Shipping Emissions

The e-commerce website Etsy has a clean, green vision to support the planet.
With the popularity of online shopping soaring through the Covid-19 quarantine, this e-commerce company has taken steps to ensure that their success doesn’t cost the earth – by offsetting their emissions.

In a blog post, Etsy CEO Josh Silverman claimed: “In the US alone, every day approximately 55,000 metric tons of CO2e are emitted into the atmosphere by delivering packages from online orders*.”

Etsy’s unique products
Launched in Brooklyn, USA, in 2005, Etsy is an e-commerce website, which offers sellers a platform to sell their vintage or handmade goods across the world. Unlike eBay, items cannot be resold and must be unique or sold over 20 years ago. Sellers simply set up an account and list their inventory for customers to browse.

Alongside homemade jumpers, vintage earrings and the suddenly popular face masks, some of the wildest items on Etsy include a Ouija Board lunch box, an Xbox 360 controller replica soap and pillows, pots and cake toppers in a variety of unmentionable styles.

Essentially, Etsy is a place for artists and collectors to sell what mainstream sellers may not want to commit to, or see as too risky to include in their brand.

However, Etsy has a broad list of items which cannot be sold on the site, including items which “Support Hatred” or “Promote Illegal Activity”.

Yet at a detriment to the planet, the items which are moving from seller to buyer, are heightening the level of carbon emissions; each time a customer orders a product and it is sent to them, greenhouses gasses are spewed into the atmosphere to deliver the item.

Etsy’s green vision
A planet torn apart by ice-cap floods and bushfires caused by climate change, won’t be able to enjoy novelty soaps. So, Etsy has started an initiative to offset the emissions caused by shipping the products they transport, by supporting these initiatives:

  1. UPM Blandin Native American Hardwoods Conservation Project
    The forestry project manages 187,876 acres of native woodland across Minnesota, USA. Whilst supplying timber to a local paper mill, it supports the unique diversity of local communities and ensures that their practices are in sync with environmental regimes.
  2. Giriraj Wind Power Project
    On the north-western coast of India, The Bundled Wind Power Project comprises of 64 wind turbines, with a reach of 112.5 MW generated for the state grid.
  3. Meridian Magnesium SF6 Reduction in the Automotive Sector
    Meridian Magnesium Products aims to reduce 300,000 metric tons of CO2 per year, by changing the way they manufacture some of their products, such as alloys. By using magnesium instead of steel, the alloys are lighter and thus run more efficiently.

What’s next for Etsy and the world
While Etsy’s profits might take a hit at first, it is likely that as individuals around the world looks for ways to cut down their own carbon footprints, Etsy’s practices will draw in new custom.

Etsy joins other companies, such as World Expeditions and Monsanto, who are introducing ways to lessen the impact of their business on the planet.

Hopefully, this practice will become industry standard in the near future.

For more information on the relationship between e-commerce and sustainability please see here.

*CO2e estimate based on size of the US ecommerce market per US Census Bureau data from combined with Etsy’s internal data about emissions per shipment.

COVID Has Triggered Changes in the Food Industry

The global food supply chain is rerouting during the pandemic as consumers shift to plantbased products, companies tackle food waste & the food industry embraces new sustainable solutions.
There is an ongoing debate concerning whether or not climate change will be placed lower on the global political agenda now that the countries are starting to slowly, but steadily exit the lockdowns caused by the COVID-10 pandemic. The future trajectory of emissions, this year and beyond, remains highly unpredictable and depends on the way that governments, industry and society as a whole react to the crisis.

For the food industry, massive reconstructions are already happening full-speed. Swift adaptations are taking place along the whole food supply chain: on the farms, at food processing plants and food retail companies, manufacturing facilities, grocery stores and restaurants.

Animal agriculture – the evident and hidden threads
Currently, when the world is facing a crisis that is disrupting food supply chains and increasing the risk of hunger, many people are becoming more aware of the importance of a healthy and sustainable food system. The devastating effect of the animal agriculture industry on the climate is striking; some of the world’s leading scientists state that “If cattle and dairy cows were a country, they would have more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire EU 28”.

The animal, and even human, welfare problems of the meat industry are also becoming even more evident. In the USA, where the increasingly large number of workers at the meat-processing plants are falling sick, the number of cattle slaughtered fell below 500,000, down more than 35 percent from average beef production, as suggested by meat industry analysts. Is there a possible answer to all these pressing issues? Biotechnology and foodtech certainly have some of them.

Plant-based meats on the rise
A recent cascade of news about the boost in meat alternatives sales need to be noted: the grocery store sales of products like Beyond Meat and Tofurky were up 264 percent during a nine-week period ending on May 2nd. The popularity of faux meat exploded starting in March, with sales of fresh meat alternatives surging 206 percent the first week of March and rising 279 percent the week ending on March 14th, according to Nielsen.

Other positive examples of such transition include agrifood giants like Cargill starting to expand their plant-based product lines in countries like China after seeing high interest in vegan chicken nuggets after trails in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. London-based THIS, a vegan food company producing extremely realistic plant-based meat–alternatives also raised €5.5M in January 2020.

Smaller alternative protein companies, such as fungi-based protein foodtech startup, Mycorena, are presenting similar trends. Even amidst the recession, the Swedish company has recently raised €1.2 million to expand its industrial production plants. The dairy alternative company Oatly, has also seen an increase in demand in the early days of the pandemic.

Food waste amidst the pandemic and creative solutions to tackle the issue
Despite the change in consumer behaviour, such as panic buying and increase in grocery demand, the closure of restaurants, colleges and schools – the main “bulk buyers” – resulted in millions of tons food products going to waste. From gallons of wasted milk to rotting vegetables, the world needed powerful tech solutions to rescue and redistribute the fresh foods, and help them to stay on the shelves for longer.

In the startup world, such solutions have gained momentum: a company called Apeel Sciences from California announced $250 million funding in May, adding to the previous investments from the Gates Foundation, Oprah Winfrey and Katy Perry. Apeel’s preservative technology adds a layer of plant-derived protection to the surface of fresh produce to slow water loss and oxidation — the factors that cause spoilage.

According to TechCrunch, a single run of Apeel’s system can treat 10,000 kilograms of food in an hour. “Eliminating global food waste can free up $2.6 trillion annually,” says the CEO of the company James Rogers. As for the planet “price”, eliminating food waste would also mean saving about 8% of the global greenhouse emissions, which is a big number to fight for.

Source: Apeel Sciences
Although preventing food waste generation is a No1 priority in the “Food Recovery Hierarchy”, redistribution of the surplus food is the next step needs to be taken. In the UK, a retail company Iceland has cut its food waste by nearly a quarter, or 23%, in two years by donating food to local communities, converting it into animal feed and processing it into biofuel. Such examples clearly show that initiatives like these can make a big difference in reducing the huge volumes of edible food that go to waste.

Source: EPA
The way forward
The concentrations of atmospheric CO2 that are warming our planet will not stabilise until the world reaches net-zero. The previous financial crisis of 2008-2009 showed that even though the carbon emissions decreased due to the lowered demand for power, it was followed by a sharp rise of almost 6% in 2010.

However, in order to reach the Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming to 1.5℃, we need to reduce global CO2 emissions by 7.6% per year between 2020 and 2030. The World Economic Forum also urges that even the recent report of the decreasing emissions does not mean we are addressing climate change.

Thus, it is now more important than ever to continue working towards cleaner and greener economies, and one powerful way to do it is to change the way we produce and consume food, one meal at a time.

For more information on CleanTech in the food industry, please see here.

People of Colour Making a Sustainable Impact

Celebrating achievements made by people of colour who are creating a sustainable impact and bringing awareness towards a cleaner and greener environment – no matter the business nature.
Jasmine Crowe, Founder and CEO of Goodr

“I believe that everybody deserves to eat.”

In the beginning of 2017, Jasmine Crowe started Goodr, a food waste management company which is a real-time food rescue app.

The app connects businesses with local charities to arrange deliveries of leftovers to people in need. Before she founded the company, she used to feed homeless people from the kitchen of her small one-bedroom apartment in Atlanta, GA.

Goodr helps other companies strive for zero waste – together they have contributed more than 1.8 million meals diverting them from landfills.

Jasmine admits she was shocked when she found out that more than 72 billion pounds of edible food is wasted every year in the US while 42 million people, almost 13% of the total population, are suffering from food insecurity. She took action as she understood that hunger was not a scarcity issue, but rather a logistics issue. Goodr connects businesses that have surplus food to non-profit organisations and people who need it.

Goodr uses a blockchain technology that allows the secure tracking of organisation’s surplus food from a pickup to donation, providing real-time reporting analytics. This is how Goodr aims to make a social and environmental impact by reducing businesses’ greenhouse emissions from landfills and getting food to hungry people.

Sergie Albino, CEO and Co-Founder of ecoSPEARS

Innovation That Cleans the World

Sergie is a social entrepreneur and former NASA aerospace engineer who is on a mission to transform the environmental industry.

Sergie leads the engineering and technology divisions of ecoSPEARS. ecoSPEARS is a cleantech solutions company focussed on green and cost-effective technology to extract and destroy contaminations from the environment and water to prevent diseases, birth defects and cancer. The team deploys innovative, environmentally-friendly technologies and is, therefore, able to sustainably and permanently remove various toxins from the environment permanently.

In 2019 ecoSPEARS was accepted in the Black & Veatch’s IgniteX Cleantech Accelerator, 1 of 7 companies selected from over 140 applicants. Black & Veatch became ecoSPEARS’s design-build partner to assist in the scaling of the company’s green technologies.

ecoSPEARS has recently partnered with the United Nations to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals to make sure everyone has access to clean water and healthy soil.

Jessica O. Matthews, CEO and Founder of Uncharted Power

“Everything that moves is a source of kinetic energy which can be stored.”

Jessica is an inventor who founded Uncharted Power – a power infrastructure company that develops smart grid hardware and software solutions making clean, safe, secure, and low-cost power accessible to everyone.

While still in college, she created the Soccket, a soccer ball that can take the kinetic energy created from being tossed and kicked around and transform it into a renewable and portable energy source. This “gadget” can be a true game-changer to those living in poverty, with no electricity or constant outages. Matthews says that usually this is painted as a socio-economic problem – which to an extent is – but it is also an infrastructure and transmission issue.

In 2012, Jessica was invited by President Barack Obama to the White House, to represent small companies for the signing of the America Invents Act. Jessica currently serves as an Ambassador of Entrepreneurship for Nigeria.

Ashley Fouyolle, Founder of Unwrp

“Failure can be the best ingredient for success”

In 2017, Ashley Fouyolle started Unwrp, a sustainable gift wrap, greeting cards and home décor company.

From inception to delivery, UNWRP serves as a platform for emerging artists of colour. Unwrp offers wallpapers, Japanese-style reusable gift wrap, gift tags and ribbon. The reusable fabric wrap can be kept for much longer and reused for many different gifts.

Ashley entered design and found her passion for giftwrapping after failing a required math course that was a part of her marketing degree. She is now happy and reflects on the “failure” with gratitude.

This young artist references design from unexpected places and incorporates them in her own way. She has worked with such Grammy-nominated recording artists like DRAM, Nebu Kiniza, executed projects for Gap, Macy’s and LF Americas.

Pernell Cezar, CEO and Co-Founder of BLK + Bold

Fighting for Social Justice One Cup of Coffee at a Time

Pernell Cezar started BLK + Bold in 2018 – the first black-owned nationally distributed coffee brand.

While the coffee market may be saturated, the specialty coffee and loose-leaf tea category is wide open according to Cezar. The base ingredients consist of either 100% organic in-house roasted coffee or 100% organic premium loose-leaf tea, which the business supplies to wholesale (i.e. cafes, restaurants, hospitality, offices) and retail distribution.

BLK + Bold is a mission-based business, focusing on the contribution made from the beverages industry back to the communities. The business contributes 5% of its profits to initiatives that support under-resourced domestic youth. “We really wanted to find a way to impact that vulnerable demographic by doing something we do every day, which is enjoying a cup of coffee or tea,” says Cezar.

Their goal is to make an impact in every way possible, which includes using natural processes and incorporating sustainability into their practice.

Klimato: Climate-Calculations in the Food Industry

See how Klimato, the climate calculation company, is working out the carbon impact of your plate.
The food industry accounts for some 25% of global emissions and is as such one of the industries which most heavily burdens the climate. Scientists and policymakers are increasingly advocating for the potential to reduce emissions through incentives such as meat and dairy tax.

Meanwhile innovative meat and dairy substitutes, spurred by increasing consumer demand for climate-friendly alternatives, are driving change in the industry. One company assisting this change is Klimato.

By leveraging LCA-data on different food products, Klimato offers a digital tool for restaurants to label the climate impact of their food, set climate goals and report on their monthly progress. Launching their services in Sweden last year, assisting large school canteens as well as restaurant chains and cafes. University College London is their first user in the UK.

How much CO2e is on a climate-friendly plate
Interestingly, even in a country with ambitious climate targets, the average Swede’s emissions of about 2 kg of carbon dioxide equivalents per dinner is far too high. According to WWF’s One Planet Plate, the figure should be below 0.5 kg in order to be classified as climate-friendly.

Image courtesy of Klimato
Sustainability reporting to become a new trend
The company strives to promote sustainability reporting. With many large corporations already having these practices integrated into their business models, one could think that sustainability reporting is a widely-accepted concept.

In the EU, the directive of sustainability reporting came into force in 2018. They outlined what measures can be introduced to increase transparency and environmental accountability of the companies in the EU countries.

However, many businesses are still lacking detailed knowledge about science-based sustainability reporting as an effective tool to improve responsible business practices. What are the main advantages of having such science-based sustainability reports?

Setting science-based climate targets
Sustainability reports allow communicating the company’s environmental commitment to its customers and other stakeholders. Moreover, science-based targets are not only helping to prevent the adverse effects of climate change, but are advantageous for companies as well: ambitious targets increase innovation; reduce regulatory uncertainty; strengthen investor confidence and credibility; and improve profitability and competitiveness.

The UN also sends a clear message – setting clear environmental targets matter, and transformational action of the companies will depend on how ambitious their targets for reducing emissions are. Essentially, the two main questions need to be answered: by how much and how quickly do the companies need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions?

Klimato makes it easy for businesses to stay on track with their sustainability performance: our CO2e reporting system shows the monthly progression and mainly focus on 3 KPIs:

Average CO2e emission per dish
The percentage (%) of climate-friendly dishes sold
Total aggregated emissions
There is a recent positive example of such progression from one of Klimato’s customers, a Swedish food-delivery company Favo: in January, they set a goal together with Klimato to increase their portion of climate-friendly dishes sold to 50% in 2020.

Just 3 months later, the partners could proudly present that Favo is on a good track to hit their climate goal: the proportion of climate-smart dishes below 0.5kg CO2e increased from 26.3% in January to over 40% in both February and March. The “secret“ behind this achievement was the new climate-friendly menu of the company with a variety of plant-based alternatives.

Image courtesy of Klimato.
Klimato helps food companies to set clear climate goals, follow up on them with comprehensive reporting, and to create their own long-term vision of the company’s sustainability performance.

Vertical Farms Explained

Vertical farming promises a green revolution designed for the future. But how are vertical farms different from conventional agriculture?
The global population will grow by 3 billion by 2050 and it is projected that 70% of people will live in urban areas. The demand for food will grow substantially; in fact, the world will need to grow more food in the next 35-40 years than the previous 10,000 years combined. Countries will have to figure out how to bring food directly to consumers in the most effective way.

The solution to this could be vertical farming – the practice of growing crops in vertically stacked farms. These produce crops much faster while using 40% less power, creating 80% less food waste and using 99% less water than in the outdoor fields.

How is vertical farming achieved?
In recent years, sustainable food production in cities has attracted a lot of interest and attention. Vertical farming requires less space for food production and it enables food production close to urban areas in a safe and clean way. For example, such farming methods can use empty buildings, even skyscrapers, to revive abandoned neighbourhoods. Interestingly, a few companies in Detroit, MI, already make use of the city’s unoccupied warehouses to grow vegetables which are then sold to the local community.

Urban farms use soil-free growing techniques and no pesticides. The biggest difference with these farms, however, is that the food grown in the vertical farm does not use any natural daylight, only intensive LED light. Naturally, all aspects are monitored: from the amount of “sunlight” and water to the type of substrate. This way the food can be grown in the safest and cleanest way possible.

Global and fast-growing
Urban farming market is expected to be worth $17 billion by 2026. China, whose population is predicted to reach 1.5 billion in 2030, is investing heavily in vertical farming as more and more people are moving to the cities. In addition, an affluent middle class demands different, clean and fresh food.

Furthermore, the urban farming sector is growing fast in the US, too. Currently, the total US fresh fruit and vegetable industry is worth $104 billion and is predicted to grow. Japan, in the meantime, is anticipated to hit $5.8 billion by 2022 with its vertical farming developments. The country can boast 200 large-scale “farming as manufacturing” plant factories, whereas China has 80.

There have been some large-scale projects announced in the UK in the past year. For instance, Shockingly Fresh, an Edinburgh-based startup, is set to develop 40 sites and already has on in Scotland and four in England. Ocado, an online supermarket, has also invested around $20 million in the sector. What is more, it has taken a 58% stake in Jones Food Company which produced 420t of leafy greens each year.

Benefits of local production
Local production and vertical farms have great benefits. They can settle anywhere no matter the climate conditions while farmers settle where the best natural conditions for food production are. It is said that food produced with traditional agricultural methods travels around 2000 miles before it reaches our tables. By reducing the travel miles, we can positively impact travel costs as well as CO2 emissions. It is visible when transporting fresh foods whose preservation produces much carbon footprint. Also, vertical farms diminish overall CO2 output by a staggering 67-92% compared to conventional greenhouses.

In addition, local production improves crops freshness, reduces agricultural waste and enhances traceability. In other words, vertical farming offers to reduce the industry’s environmental impact and make the world cleaner.