Can big data, AI and chemical footprinting help the renewable energy sector avoid a toxic waste legacy?

December 1, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Can big data, AI and chemical footprinting help the renewable energy sector avoid a toxic waste legacy? Krishna Rajan Tue, 12/01/2020 – 01:00 The launch of the digital economy has brought with it an expansion of disruptive technologies such as predictive analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics that are readily being used to transform the marketplace. But can we also use these breakthrough technologies to accelerate the development of safer, more sustainable materials for the renewable energy sector?  Starting with one of the fastest-growing clean energy sectors, solar technology, this is the fundamental question that a unique collaboratory is asking itself. Three years ago, the Department of Materials Design and Innovation at the University at Buffalo, Clean Production Action (CPA) and Niagara Share created the Collaboratory for a Regenerative Economy (CoRE). CoRE recognizes the critical societal importance of scaling clean energy technologies such as solar to address the climate crisis. But to do this sustainably, we need to collectively scale solutions to reduce the use of toxic chemicals and scarce, unrecyclable materials that impede circular economies.  Issues such as toxicity and environmental impact are often an afterthought in the design phase, which is predominantly focused on improving the technical functions and efficiencies of materials. With more than 78 million tons of contaminated waste related to solar panels expected to hit landfills by 2050, this trend needs to be reversed. To improve the life-cycle footprint of solar panels, big data tools can help manufacturers embed human health and environmental criteria into the front end of the design phase of materials and products. We need to collectively scale solutions to reduce the use of toxic chemicals and scarce, unrecyclable materials that impede circular economies. In a recently released report, “Elements of Change: Moving forward together towards a cleaner safer future,” CoRE outlines strategies for renewable energy companies to: Reduce chemical footprints of products, supply chains and manufacturing; Apply machine learning to design techniques for lead-free panels; and  Use big data tools to rapidly characterize chemicals and identify safer solvents. Safely meet demand for renewable energy technologies Solar energy, along with other clean energy technologies, depends on hazardous chemicals and novel materials to reduce costs and optimize efficiencies. Some of these chemistries are unsafe for the environment and human health. For example, solar energy technologies rely on toxic materials such as lead in solar cells and hydrofluoric acid used in manufacturing processes. This is especially harmful for workers exposed to hazardous chemicals throughout the life cycle of renewable energy technologies from production to disposal. The solar energy sector is not alone with this major challenge. More than 2,780,000 workers die globally annually from unsafe and unhealthy work conditions, according to the International Labor Organization. The United Nations Human Rights Commission estimated that a worker dies at least every 30 seconds from exposure to toxic industrial chemicals, pesticides, dust, radiation and other hazardous substances.  CPA’s work with the electronics sector to driver safer chemical is applicable to the solar sector and all clean energy technologies. For example, HP, Inc is a leader in its work to reduce its chemical footprint, documented by its participation in the annual Chemical Footprint Survey. This survey measures a company’s chemical footprint against best practices. It is modeled on the Carbon Disclosure Project, and is open and transparent, providing solar companies with a roadmap to safer chemical use. Apple uses CPA’s GreenScreen to provide guidance to its suppliers on safer substitution of hazardous chemicals used as cleaners and degreasers in its supply chain. GreenScreen is a leading hazard assessment tool that benchmarks chemicals based on performance across 18 human health and environmental end points. Solar companies can use this tool to identify safer solutions to problematic materials such as hydrofluoric acid.  These leading electronic companies even have teamed up with nonprofits such as CPA and academics to form the Clean Electronic Production Network (CEPN), which aims to eliminate exposure to toxic substances in the workplace. This is a massive undertaking related to the manufacturing of computers, electronics and other information technologies. Solar manufacturers work off a similar manufacturing platform that stands to benefit from the tools and resources that CEPN is creating to do full chemical inventories and safer substitution with suppliers. Solar companies today can adapt CEPN tools and strategies, proven effective by electronic companies, and make meaningful progress towards safer chemical use. But there remains a major challenge for all these companies, notably solar — the time it takes to discover new materials relative to their growth projections. This is where CoRE believes AI, machine learning and predictive analytics can play a role in accelerating the process of material discovery to the benefit of human health and the environment as well as optimized technical performance.  Using big data and AI to accelerate material discovery  The development of high-performance materials typically takes decades, sometimes up to 30 years to commercialize a new material. Big data tools can organize the large volumes of disaggregated information companies need to improve the technical, environmental and social performance of materials. Solar companies that participate annually in the CPA Chemical Footprint Survey to measure their chemical footprint and track their performance against best practices, can leverage these tools to map patterns and impacts necessary for decisionmaking and prioritization. For example, the use of lead in solar panels is problematic in the production and disposal of these products. Electronics companies have shown it is possible to design lead-free electronic products, but solar companies are still very dependent on lead-based technologies. This is true even with the next generation of solar panels — for example, perovskite-based solar panels show the potential to increase the efficiency of panels, but their chemistry is dependent on lead. Rational design is a process that bypasses trial-and-error approaches and creates new materials based on a predictive understanding of the fundamental science governing materials performance. CoRE has demonstrated that “data fingerprints” can provide a powerful representation of the characteristics of perovskite crystal chemistry. This is key to overcoming the barriers to safer substitution for toxic elements such as lead.  Data-driven screening tools and machine learning methods can help navigate the complexity of information associated with new and emerging chemicals used in the manufacture of solar devices. This includes harnessing advanced materials modeling and informatics techniques to identify pathways for the rational design of new materials chemistries for renewable technologies (solar energy) that minimize adverse environmental and human health impacts without compromising functionality. Rational design is a process that bypasses trial-and-error approaches and creates new materials based on a predictive understanding of the fundamental science governing materials performance. Searching for the proper chemistry of materials that meet multiple functionality metrics of minimal hazard and enhanced engineering performance requires us to explore a chemical search space that is prohibitively too large to explore and make critical discoveries within a reasonable time frame using traditional methods. CoRE seeks to address this challenge by applying materials informatics and physics-based modeling to fill the gaps in scientific knowledge, which then guides accelerated materials discovery and design for solar technologies. At CoRE, our goal is to gain a greater understanding of how atomic-scale changes in chemistry have a multiscale influence on materials manufacturing, performance and sustainability of solar cells.  The European Commission recently announced a new chemical strategy for its Green New Deal that promises a non-toxic future for its citizens and a plan for zero pollution. The plan includes new investments for green and safer material innovation. This policy will stimulate demand for greener, safer products; putting pressure on renewable energy companies to think more holistically about their lifecycle impacts. By building on best practices established widely in the electronics sector and leveraging the untapped benefits of AI and big data, solar companies can lead the way for the renewable energy sector in transforming their chemical footprints and accelerating the adoption of safer materials.   Pull Quote We need to collectively scale solutions to reduce the use of toxic chemicals and scarce, unrecyclable materials that impede circular economies. Rational design is a process that bypasses trial-and-error approaches and creates new materials based on a predictive understanding of the fundamental science governing materials performance. Contributors Mark Rossi Chitra Rajan Alexandra McPherson Topics Chemicals & Toxics Energy & Climate Solar Consumer Electronics Technology Collective Insight The Right Chemistry Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Sondem Close Authorship

Go here to see the original:
Can big data, AI and chemical footprinting help the renewable energy sector avoid a toxic waste legacy?

Booming secondhand clothing sales could help curb the sustainability crisis in fashion

November 27, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Booming secondhand clothing sales could help curb the sustainability crisis in fashion Hyejune Park Fri, 11/27/2020 – 01:00 A massive force is reshaping the fashion industry: secondhand clothing. According to a new report, the U.S. secondhand clothing market is projected to more than triple in value in the next 10 years  — from $28 billion in 2019 to $80 billion in 2029 — in a U.S. market currently worth $379 billion . In 2019, secondhand clothing expanded 21 times faster than conventional apparel retail did. Even more transformative is secondhand clothing’s potential to dramatically alter the prominence of fast fashion — a business model characterized by cheap and disposable clothing that emerged in the early 2000s, epitomized by brands such as H&M and Zara. Fast fashion grew exponentially over the next two decades, significantly altering the fashion landscape by producing more clothing, distributing it faster and encouraging consumers to buy in excess with low prices. While fast fashion is expected to continue to grow 20 percent in the next 10 years, secondhand fashion is poised to grow 185 percent . As researchers who study clothing consumption and sustainability, we think the secondhand clothing trend has the potential to reshape the fashion industry and mitigate the industry’s detrimental environmental impact on the planet. The next big thing The secondhand clothing market is composed of two major categories, thrift stores and resale platforms. But the latter largely has fueled the recent boom. Secondhand clothing has long been perceived as worn out and tainted, mainly sought by bargain or treasure hunters . However, this perception has changed, and now many consumers consider secondhand clothing to be of identical or even superior quality to unworn clothing. A trend of “fashion flipping”  — or buying secondhand clothes and reselling them — also has emerged, particularly among young consumers. While fast fashion is expected to continue to grow 20% in the next 10 years, secondhand fashion is poised to grow 185%. Thanks to growing consumer demand and new digital platforms such as Tradesy and Poshmark that facilitate peer-to-peer exchange of everyday clothing, the digital resale market is quickly becoming the next big thing in the fashion industry. The market for secondhand luxury goods is also substantial. Retailers such as The RealReal or the Vestiaire Collective provide a digital marketplace for authenticated luxury consignment, where people buy and sell designer labels such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Hermès. The market value of this sector reached $2 billion in 2019 . The secondhand clothing trend also appears to be driven by affordability, especially now, during the COVID-19 economic crisis . Consumers not only have reduced their consumption of nonessential items such as clothing , but also are buying more quality garments over cheap, disposable attire. For clothing resellers, the ongoing economic contraction combined with the increased interest in sustainability has proven to be a winning combination. More mindful consumers? The fashion industry has long been associated with social and environmental problems, ranging from poor treatment of garment workers to pollution and waste generated by clothing production. Less than 1 percent of materials used to make clothing are recycled to make new clothing, a $500 billion annual loss for the fashion industry . The textile industry produces more carbon emissions than the airline and maritime industries combined . And about 20 percent of water pollution across the globe is the result of wastewater from the production and finishing of textiles. Consumers have become more aware of the ecological impact of apparel production and are more frequently demanding apparel businesses expand their commitment to sustainability . Buying secondhand clothing could provide consumers a way to push back against the fast-fashion system. Worldwide, in the past 15 years, the average number of times a garment is worn before it’s trashed has decreased by 36%. Buying secondhand clothing increases the number of owners an item will have, extending its life — something dramatically shortened in the age of fast fashion . (Worldwide, in the past 15 years, the average number of times a garment is worn before it’s trashed has decreased by 36 percent.) High-quality clothing traded in the secondhand marketplace also retains its value over time , unlike cheaper fast-fashion products. Thus, buying a high-quality secondhand garment instead of a new one is theoretically an environmental win. But some critics argue the secondhand marketplace actually encourages excess consumption by expanding access to cheap clothing . Our latest research supports this possibility . We interviewed young American women who regularly use digital platforms such as Poshmark. They saw secondhand clothing as a way to access both cheap goods and ones they ordinarily could not afford. They did not see it as an alternative model of consumption or a way to decrease dependence on new clothing production. Whatever the consumer motive, increasing the reuse of clothing is a big step toward a new normal in the fashion industry, although its potential to address sustainability woes remains to be seen. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Pull Quote While fast fashion is expected to continue to grow 20% in the next 10 years, secondhand fashion is poised to grow 185%. Worldwide, in the past 15 years, the average number of times a garment is worn before it’s trashed has decreased by 36%. Contributors Cosette Marie Joyner Armstrong Topics Circular Economy Fashion Apparel Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by  gabriel12  on Shutterstock.

See the original post:
Booming secondhand clothing sales could help curb the sustainability crisis in fashion

How the digital wave is contributing to the rise of sustainable fisheries

November 12, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on How the digital wave is contributing to the rise of sustainable fisheries

How the digital wave is contributing to the rise of sustainable fisheries Myisha Majumder Thu, 11/12/2020 – 02:03 World fish consumption has almost doubled between the 1960s and now, and some estimates suggest fish contributes to at least 50 percent of total animal protein intake in developing nations. Despite higher demand for seafood and fish, world reserves have not kept up, and aquaculture is becoming more common as a result. Aquaculture uses techniques of breeding marine species in all types of water environments as a means to supplement seafood demand. The practice comes with many advantages, including reducing the dependence on wild-caught species, but also raises environmental concerns, which some industry experts are trying to address with up-and-coming technologies such as analytics, blockchain, artificial intelligence and the internet of things. Jennifer Kemmerly, vice president of global ocean initiatives at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, said a focus on sustainability is necessary in the field, as 3 billion people rely on seafood, and 60 million people rely on the seafood industry for their livelihood. But this demand comes with noticeable problems, Kemmerly observed during a breakout session during VERGE 20 in late October. “There’s a lot of overfishing, or depleted fish stocks on the wild side of capture fisheries. There is illegality and mismanagement traceability back to the source of where the seafood is coming from, even whether it is farmed or wild… There are environmental issues and concerns that need to be dealt with,” she said. Kristina Furnes, global communications manager for Grieg Seafood, an international seafood company in Norway, British Columbia and Shetland specializing in fresh Atlantic salmon, said fish farming is complex. “It actually takes between 2.5 to three years to farm salmon, [which is] quite a long production period compared to, for example, chicken, which maybe takes like one or two months,” she said. Part of this farming process occurs in freshwater facilities on land and the other part occurs at sea. The process becomes even more complex with the introduction of sustainable practices, as fisheries strive to reduce impact on nature and improve fish welfare. “We have to cut carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, and we have to find new ways to think more in line with the circular economy,” Furnes said. Data and digital technologies can play a big role in helping out the process, said Furnes and her fellow VERGE 20 panelists. At Grieg Seafood, data analytics are being used to reduce the company’s feed conversion ratio, typically the amount of feed given over the amount of weight gained by the livestock, she said. One operational center can support all the different farms in that region, and with them, decision-making support as we call it, so we don’t think that digital tools will ever replace the fantastic guys on the farm. Although technological advances can assist in making fishery practices more sustainable, Furnes emphasized the importance of long histories of fishing communities. She believes that well-established farmers who have “grown up with the ocean” have had the experience-based learning crucial for decision-making. Furnes does not see technology as a way to replace humans in the process, but rather to assist, through the creation of operational centers in the Grieg Seafood infrastructure. “One operational center can support all the different farms in that region, and with them, decision-making support as we call it, so we don’t think that digital tools will ever replace the fantastic guys on the farm. But the idea is that it will help them to make better decisions,” she said. Among the sources of information Grieg uses to inform decisions include sensors and cameras to gather environmental data and monitor equipment on the farms. Another area where data analytics can be used to help fisheries is through early detection of potential damages. Furnes offered the example of harmful algae blooms that can damage the salmon by decreasing levels of oxygen. In Grieg Seafood’s British Columbia center, the company uses machine learning models to predict the probability of algae blooms. If the model warns of such an event, the company puts into place protective barriers through use of upwelling systems, which is simply taking water from further down in the ocean and increasing the overall height. Blockchain also could play a role in supporting the sustainable evolution of aquaculture, said Espen Braathe, head of blockchain transparency efforts in Europe for IBM, who believes IBM’s preexisting blockchain network for the food market in Europe can be implemented in some way. Braathe said data analytics about the condition of fish farms is appealing to consumers as well. “We expect information to be at our fingertips and we expect to have the truth about food… You want to feel good about you know the food that we eat, and we want to make sure it’s healthy right for us as well,” he said. In Braathe’s opinion, consumers are looking for the connection that once ago existed between the consumer and the farmer. It is possible to recreate this relationship through digital connections, he said. Although it is clear that usage of data can benefit the sustainability of fisheries, the industry will need to overcome certain barriers, according to the panelists. “The data is there, it resides in silos, but the quality of the data is not always to the point where you can actually use it [for analytics],” Braathe said. Furnes echoed this statement, and said some sort of streamlining across the industry and within individual companies is necessary to efficiently use the large amounts of data gathered. “There is a need for a standard in the industry on how you actually collect data… Ensuring that you actually have quality data that you are collecting that you can actually use for something and compare is really big,” she said. Adopting such practices hopefully will come with time, as global consumption of seafood likely will continue to rise and have an impact on the surrounding climate and environment. Kemmerly sees great potential in the role of technology in the solutions. “The challenges are not insurmountable. Technology has proven it can play a powerful role in enabling the sustainability and improved management of both fisheries and aquaculture,” she said. Pull Quote One operational center can support all the different farms in that region, and with them, decision-making support as we call it, so we don’t think that digital tools will ever replace the fantastic guys on the farm. Topics Oceans & Fisheries VERGE 20 Digitalization Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

Read the original:
How the digital wave is contributing to the rise of sustainable fisheries

Earth911 Inspiration: Clothing Clutter

October 30, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco

Comments Off on Earth911 Inspiration: Clothing Clutter

Today’s quote is from Elizabeth Cline, an expert on consumer … The post Earth911 Inspiration: Clothing Clutter appeared first on Earth 911.

Read the original:
Earth911 Inspiration: Clothing Clutter

Why Gen Z voices matter in making business sustainable

October 19, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Why Gen Z voices matter in making business sustainable

Why Gen Z voices matter in making business sustainable Isabel LoDuca Mon, 10/19/2020 – 01:00 Generation Z, those born between 1996 and 2015, are current consumers, future business leaders and the future of this world. Yet, Gen Z is unlike any other generation to date. With buying power of more than $140 billion , Gen Z is the fastest-growing consumer segment with unique purchasing values in mind and the willingness to act upon them. Gen Z wants companies to use their scale to push for environmental progress, human rights, inclusion and honesty and transparency.  Environment. There are just seven short years left before the damage from climate change is irreversible. As found in a recent UNiDAYS survey , 93 percent of Gen Z believes brands have an obligation to take a stand on environmental issues. From developing company-wide environmental policies to making smart climate-related investments, Gen Z wants to see actionable plans and measurable progress.  With buying power of more than $140 billion, Gen Z is the fastest-growing consumer segment with unique purchasing values in mind and the willingness to act upon them. Human rights. Strong ethics are critical to a brand’s success in forming a relationship with Gen Z. Supply chain workers’ health and safety, combined with ethical working conditions and practices, and taking into consideration environmental impacts are needed to ensure brand trust and build brand loyalty with consumers. Ethics are important to young people now more than ever.  Diversity, equity, inclusion. Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is a core belief. Black Lives Matter. Equal pay matters. LGBTQ+ acceptance matters. Gen Z expects diversity, equity and inclusion to be embraced by brands. Promoting DEI in the workplace is a critical aspect of a successful company. Based on actionable initiatives, Gen Z wants companies to have diverse voices in leadership, equal pay and fair opportunities for all. Honesty and transparency. Gen Z is done with fake news. According to a recent study conducted by the Consumer Goods Forum and Futerra, 90 percent of Millennials and Gen Z personally care if they receive honest information about products. Transparency in a digital age sets great companies apart from all others. In an age of skepticism and misinformation, transparency at all operation levels is crucial for building brand loyalty and trust with the Gen Z market segment. Gen Z is the Honest Generation.  With these four values in mind, Devishi Jha and I, both Gen Z students, created Voyagers to fill the gap we see between sustainable businesses and youth consumers. Launching Oct. 21, Voyagers is working to foster relationships between sustainable businesses and youth voices. Through an industry panel with sustainability leaders from IKEA and Clif Bar and climate activist Ziad Ahmed, Voyagers’ launch will be the beginning of forcible youth-led change in the world of business sustainability. Developed by youth for youth, Voyagers provides a platform of youth voices for sustainable businesses to hold campaigns to rally supporters, share and promote their sustainability journey stories and gain irreplaceable Gen Z consumer insights.  The Gen Z consumer segment is growing fast. By 2023, Gen Z will be the largest generational segment in the economy. We invite you to join us . Pull Quote With buying power of more than $140 billion, Gen Z is the fastest-growing consumer segment with unique purchasing values in mind and the willingness to act upon them. Topics Social Justice Youth Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

Go here to see the original:
Why Gen Z voices matter in making business sustainable

Inside the world’s first VR circular fashion summit: 4 key takeaways

October 14, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Comments Off on Inside the world’s first VR circular fashion summit: 4 key takeaways

Inside the world’s first VR circular fashion summit: 4 key takeaways Lilian Liu Wed, 10/14/2020 – 01:30 COVID-19 has radically accelerated the need for the fashion industry to innovate. The second edition of the Circular Fashion Summit bears fruit of this new socially distanced reality. The world’s first virtual reality (VR) fashion summit Oct. 3 and 4 was pioneered by founders Lorenzo Albrighi and ShihYun Kuo of Lablaco , a company that uses technology to accelerate the transition towards a circular economy for fashion, and was an official part of the Paris Fashion Week program this fall.  The virtual reality environment was mirrored after the Grand Palais, an iconic architectural exhibition hall at the heart of Paris and home to the famous Chanel shows. Fashion week formats have evolved dramatically during the pandemic — with digital and virtual shows or mixed digital plus in-person elements events taking place. The Circular Fashion Summit continued to push expectations. Participants were able to not just consume fashion content but also discuss, network and learn from others joining from around the globe —as long as they had a VR headset and an internet connection. Global apparel and footwear consumption is expected to grow by 81 percent by 2030, according to Global Fashion Agenda and the Boston Consulting Group . Under its current carbon emissions reduction trajectory, the fashion industry is projected to miss the 1.5 degree Celsius pathway by 50 percent, according to a recent study from McKinsey and the Global Fashion Agenda . Clearly, COVID-19 is no time for inaction. Originally planned as an in-person gathering, the Circular Fashion Summit team decided to host the summit in virtual reality — just like being at a real event but without the footprint of travel, and in the shape of your customized avatar. A screenshot shows panelists for a talk during the Circular Fashion Summit. Attendee avatars can be seen. Screenshot courtesy of Lilian Liu. 4 summit takeaways 1. Digital technologies are opening up new ways for us to consume fashion without the waste or carbon footprint…  During the “Technology: The New Product Storytelling” panel, it was astoundingly clear that emerging digital technologies can make a big difference for fashion brands and their customers. “Now that we socially-distance, we need different ways of engaging with audiences, from the first point of creation and design to retail and engaging the consumer. Digital and 3D is becoming integral for every fashion brand,” said Matthew Drinkwater, head of Fashion Innovation Agency at the London College of Fashion. As the technology gets better, digital prototypes of garments are becoming much closer to the real thing, and you can get feedback on early iterations to save material and time in producing real prototypes.  As fashion is transitioning to digital, the lines between industries have started to blur even more, and the relationship between fashion and the gaming industry has grown. Agatha Hood, head of advertising sales at Unity Technologies , a software development company that specializes in creating and operating interactive real-time 3D content, shared that 25 percent of in-game purchases in the U.S. are being spent on customizing personal avatars, characters or the virtual space.  After the conference, Hood added: “While VR is obviously a great way for both consumers and industry experts to view and explore fashion, another medium that makes us really excited is augmented reality. Being able to view fabrics, textures, designs in real life through a device really brings the products to life — to say nothing of the ability to try fashion on.” The technology already exists for us to interact with digital objects as a seamless part of the real world. In the future, we are likely to see more designers creating fashion in a digital format, making it easily available for consumers to engage in self-expression without buying new physical clothing — lowering the environmental and social footprint of fashion significantly. Virtual consumption could help us curb our everlasting appetite of buying physical clothing while keeping the creativity and fun of fashion alive. 2. …with an emphasis on the need for new skills, and a reminder that the transition to digital fashion needs to be inclusive. With stronger digital integration, we are rapidly seeing the need for education and new skills in the fashion workforce. Drinkwater pointed out the large generational gap in this regard. “A few years ago [fashion] students couldn’t leverage [digital creation platforms] such as Unity or Unreal Engine, but now they can and it makes a difference.”  From a global perspective, Omoyemi Akerele, founder of Style House Files , a creative development agency for Nigerian and African designers, and Lagos Fashion and Design Week, reminded attendees that we need to ensure that the transition is inclusive. “The future lies in virtual platforms; however, it’s important that nobody is left behind. The socio-economic impacts and value that fashion creates will go away from some,” she said.  Global apparel and footwear consumption is expected to grow by 81% by 2030 and under its current carbon emissions reduction trajectory, the fashion industry is projected to miss the 1.5 degree Celsius pathway by 50%. In the move from physical to virtual engagement, education will be critical. “We need to be able to empower everyone, where a virtual fashion economy still gives opportunity for meaningful employment and meaningful work for many,” Akerele said.  3. To accelerate progress on circularity, we need investment, expertise and a whole lot of collective action. During the “Sustainability: Turning Circularity into Business” panel, speakers discussed the barriers of circularity and how we can overcome them. More investments to scale circular innovation are critical. There is also a need for accessing information and expertise to unlock circular solutions. “Right now a handful of experts have the knowledge, and we need to give access to this expertise to more people,” said Nina Shariati, sustainability strategist at H&M who founded the pro-bono consultancy Doughnate Hour to help bring circularity expertise to brands.  Most strikingly, radical collaboration was the ingredient that was repeated again and again. The only way to overcome barriers in knowledge and scaling these innovations is if brands work pre-competitively and actively collaborate with policymakers and circularity experts.  To embody this philosophy, the Circular Fashion Summit promised to do more than just convene conversations and plans to take collective action. It has set three Action Goals to be achieved by 2021: recirculate 100,000 fashion item; tokenize 10,000 fashion items on the blockchain; and upcycle 1,000 pairs of sneakers. Perhaps it is time that we redefine the circular economy not as a siloed environmental issue but recognize the interconnected social impacts that circular business models could have. The goals are powered by Lablaco technology and will be achieved together with the summit attendees (“Catalysts”). For example, The Lane Crawford Joyce Group ’s social initiative Luxarity launched a resale initiative featuring pre-loved items from celebrity closets, with Lablaco tokenizing the items on the blockchain to help achieve the goals. Unilever is partnering with the blockchain powered peer-to-peer platform Swapchain to recirculate fashion. A partnership with Plastic Bank is also underway, in which the summit team is launching a recycled sunglasses collection. All in all, achieving the goals will save an estimated 2,000 metric tons of CO2 and 793,000 gallons of water from landfill. 4. Circular fashion can be more than closing the loop. Going beyond neutrality, companies can embrace regenerative practices and the social benefits of a circular economy.  Maggie Hewitt, founder of fashion company Maggie Marilyn , emphasized the need for brands to embrace regenerative practices. “The idea that we only have 60 years of top soil left if we continue to degrade our soil is scary. We will need to regenerate our soil if we want to be a lasting business,” she said.   The circular economy is often is seen through a lens of waste reduction and ensuring that materials go back into a circular system. Although Ellen MacArthur Foundation ’s definition of circular economy includes the concept “regenerate natural systems,” regeneration doesn’t get as much attention. To achieve real progress from circular solutions, we need to think beyond neutral and aim for positive impact. Another highlight is how circular business models can be used to increase access and inclusion to fashion, well-being and even economic opportunity. As Darren Shooter, design director at The North Face , shared, the company successfully piloted a rental service for tents and backpacks. “This opened up products to consumers that might not afford or have space for outdoor gear at home to still experience the outdoors. This rental pilot went really well and we are trying to scale it further to see how we can give people even more access to the outdoors,” he said, highlighting the human side and social benefits of a circular economy. It’s clear that the potential of new technologies to bring forward more sustainable ways of consuming fashion is endless. Smart fashion brands and innovators such as Lablaco and the Circular Fashion Summit are at the forefront of capturing this opportunity. In the same way that the summit presented a glimpse of our technological fashion future, it also opened up for the notion that we need to continue to push our circular impact and ambition. Perhaps it is time that we redefine the circular economy not as a siloed environmental issue but recognize the interconnected social impacts that circular business models could have. So, how did I feel attending my first VR summit? As I was teleporting between stages and exhibition hubs, I couldn’t help but wonder if we will ever gather as normal again, getting on an airplane instead of putting on a headset in my living room. With over 300 people getting up to speed with VR, which was a first for many, there were the inevitable tech glitches here and there, such as reboots of the system (and even some spontaneous dancing on stage!). Still, so much more engaging and fun than being on a zoom call. Would I do it again? Absolutely.  Pull Quote Global apparel and footwear consumption is expected to grow by 81% by 2030 and under its current carbon emissions reduction trajectory, the fashion industry is projected to miss the 1.5 degree Celsius pathway by 50%. Perhaps it is time that we redefine the circular economy not as a siloed environmental issue but recognize the interconnected social impacts that circular business models could have. Topics Circular Economy Fashion Virtual Reality 30 Under 30 Collective Insight 30 Under 30 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by  franz12  on Shutterstock.

Excerpt from:
Inside the world’s first VR circular fashion summit: 4 key takeaways

How transforming the mica supply chain transforms lives

October 6, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on How transforming the mica supply chain transforms lives

How transforming the mica supply chain transforms lives Joel Makower Tue, 10/06/2020 – 02:11 Second of two parts. Read Part One here . For those coming from the western world, visiting Jharkhand and other towns in India’s mica belt can be a jolting experience. For one thing, mica is everywhere. “If you visited these places where mica is plentiful, the ground is literally shimmering. You can dig a hole anywhere with your hands and start to come upon big chunks of this very pretty, very shiny rock,” according to Leonardo Bonnani, founder and CEO of Sourcemap. He explained to me how mica moves through the community. “Effectively, they will mine as much as they can either informally, anywhere that they find it, or working in and around mines that are ostensibly closed or off-limits. They get on the property and they start digging a hole about as big as a person or as big as a family. And then they take the mica to a local warehouse. This can be a very small operation, the size of a single-family home, where people are basically sorting it out into different grades and qualities, cleaning out the impurities and then bagging it onto trucks to be transported to factories where it’s actually refined. Being on their ground is incredibly powerful and humbling, and really makes you understand the true impact of the work and why it’s important to be doing it. “That’s where they do the grinding and coloring; sometimes they fire-treat it. They do all sorts of things to get the right colors and textures that industry is looking for. And it’s those surprisingly small operations that are aggregating the mica, not far from where it’s mined, that have not yet been really mapped or audited.” Setting foot in Jharkhand was an eye-opener for Sasha Calder, director of sustainability at the cosmetics company Beautycounter. “There’s a lot of jargon or technical ways of thinking about some of these challenges, but being on their ground and seeing the personal impacts on folks’ lives is incredibly powerful and humbling, and really makes you understand the true impact of the work and why it’s important to be doing it.” Among her first impressions: “We were traveling down the streets, which are glittering with mica, and seeing really young kids walking, carrying mica home on their heads. And realizing and how different of a world it felt compared to how growing up in California was for me.” Most of all, it was the extreme poverty. Jharkhand has made great strides in bringing down the number of poor, reducing the incidence of poverty from 75 percent to 46 percent in the 10 years ending in 2016, but the state has lagged behind other Indian states in reducing poverty, according to the World Bank . It notes: “Poverty is among the highest in the country today, particularly in the state’s southern and eastern districts,” which includes the mica belt. Making connections On the ground in Jharkhand, Calder set out to understand the human impact on the communities themselves. “We interviewed workers at the mines to understand how different communities are structured and what matters to them, what are their challenges and opportunities, and how they are organizing for change. We wanted to get a better understanding of the local government’s role in providing critical infrastructure, electricity, water, education and nutritional needs.” One factor she encountered there was climate change. “There have been increasing storms and droughts over the past years, and farmers have been pushed off their land, which isn’t as productive as it used to be,” Calder explained. “And so they’re turning to illegal mica mining to put food on the table. Many more folks are having their kids — who used to be supporting them in the fields — working in very harmful mica mining conditions to be able to purchase the food that they used to be producing in their own backyards. It was hard just seeing how this cycle continues to perpetuate itself.” To address the child-labor issue, Beautycounter forged a partnership with the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation , a nonprofit founded by the longtime human rights advocate, who was awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for advocating for children’s rights for more than three decades. The Nobel committee cited Satyarthi’s “struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.” Kailash Satyarthi, via Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation The partnership aimed to help Beautycounter better understand the local politics and to support a comprehensive plan for the legalization of mica mining, which would increase supply-chain transparency and traceability. The company also committed to supporting the foundation’s Child-Friendly Villages model, which empowers young people to protect themselves from trafficking, forced labor and child marriages. All told, traveling to Jharkhand can be a tough experience for westerners. As Sourcemap’s Bonnani put it: “I go to some rough raw-material sourcing locations and this was by far the worst I’ve ever seen in terms of clear evidence of malnutrition and child labor.” But there can be moments of joy. At one point, Calder visited a local school and met with the children in the community. As she tells it: “We were sitting around in kind of a formal setting. We were asking questions about their daily lives and you could just tell that there was both excitement but also nervousness and uncomfortableness in the room. So I shifted the conversation instead to things that matter most to kids. What do you like to do? What games do you like to play? Beautycounter sustainability director Sasha Calder plays games with the locals in Jharkhand, India, courtest Beautycounter “Immediately, the whole room’s energy shifted. And they told me about this game that they play out in the fields and I said, ‘Great, let’s go.’ And so the whole community — probably 100 of us — walked down the road together and they showed us how to play this game. And we went from not being able to speak the same language to laughing and giggling and poking fun at each other. It was just this beautiful reminder of the connection between all of us.” Opening the curtain As Calder began engaging with local mica miners and sellers, she was similarly met with initial resistance. “It’s really intimidating for folks to open up there, to open up their books or have you talk to their employees or go into their mines. It meant building trust early on by being completely transparent as a brand — of where we are in the journey, how we’re going to share that information. That was super critical, because once you have that trust, things move quickly.” “It’s all about building relationships,” she continued. Eventually, “People are inviting you into their homes, into their communities, and also opening the curtain behind their business. At the same time, there’s an angle of trying to understand and make sense of what has been historically a very complicated and secretive industry. So, it’s a delicate dance, but it really works best when there’s complete transparency.” It’s a delicate dance, but it really works best when there’s complete transparency. There’s no substitute for being there, she said. “When you’re on the ground, you see how mica mining impacts every part of these communities’ lives. And you get to connect more deeply as humans. It gets rid of thinking of people as statistics as you hear the stories of what matters to them, and how they want their families to be safe. And how connected we are.” Getting to transparency One result of the November 2019 trip to Jharkhand was the creation of a proprietary blockchain-based traceability tool, in which suppliers share their sourcing data with Sourcemap. Through the process, Beautycounter can then track consistency or inconsistencies in the volume of the supplier. Changes in volume or gaps of information raise red flags about how the mica is being produced. And because the blockchain creates an immutable record of each transaction, it can prevent illegally mined mica being passed off as legal. The blockchain solution “is a technology that has historically worked with both the coffee and chocolate industry to help create traceability in those supply chains,” Lindsay Dahl, Beautycounter’s senior vice president of social mission, added. “And they’re working with us in partnership with our suppliers to help us be able to tell a story that a consumer can understand.” Sasha Calder and Leonardo Bonnani in Jharkhand, courtesy Beautycounter The blockchain solution is helping Beautycounter move closer to its first goal: physically visiting and auditing all of its mica mines and working with suppliers to implement responsible sourcing program goals. “By the end of this year, we will have audited all of our current mica suppliers and are currently in the process of phasing out a few products that have old suppliers that we’ve moved away from,” Dahl told me. “So, we’re kind of in that transition right now. And we have realistic expectations around what a fully traceable mica supply chain looks like, which is the next step after we have our audits done.” She acknowledges “that’s probably several years down the road just given the complexity.” Talking the talk Earlier this year, Beautycounter began to talk to its consumers — and, by extension, the world — about its mica initiatives. It was hardly the first company to do so. A range of other brands, from L’Oréal to Lush , have pages on their websites dedicated to answering frequently asked questions about mica and child labor. Beautycounter’s mica page goes beyond FAQs, offering information and resources not just to consumers but also to suppliers and public officials. It encourages visitors to “ask your elected officials to stop the importation of products produced using forced labor.” It also features a 12-minute video , much of it taken during Calder’s November trip to Jharkhand, about the company’s work in India. “We use the video to tell the story in the same way Patagonia has for apparel and other companies are trying to do,” Dahl said. “It’s just to say, we don’t have all the answers and that’s okay. The fact of the matter is we’re starting to ask the questions. And hopefully, that can start to normalize this kind of transparency journey for other brands. So, it feels less scary because the fear has been holding brands back for decades. And the fear and secrecy is what allows human rights abuses to perpetuate.” One goal of the company’s outreach on mica is to ensure that efforts to eliminate forced labor in mica supply chains is more than a check-the-box activity for other companies. I’m sure there’s a handful of companies that don’t want to ask the questions because they don’t want the answers. Because once you get the answers, you have to deal with it. “I think some brands think they are going deep,” Dahl explained. “And they just are taking their suppliers’ word for it. ‘Oh, you’re the expert, you’re the supplier, you’ve given me this thing that looks official. So why would I even need to dig even deeper?’ I think a lot of brands are just making assumptions that the information they’ve received is credible, and it gives them the confidence to feel like they’re making good decisions. And I’m sure there’s a handful of companies that don’t want to ask the questions because they don’t want the answers. Because once you get the answers, you have to deal with it.” She added: “At the end of the day, you’re never really sure who’s going to be struck by or be moved by a story and then change their consumer behavior as a result.” The power of one Among the things that Beautycounter has demonstrated is that the power of even one company — a small, privately held company at that — can be significant. “Beautycounter was very helpful,” Bonnani told me. “It helped get other industry stakeholders to start talking about mica. We’ve seen an uptick in interest from the auto industry, for example, even though they’re just buying paint that has mica in it. We’ve heard from half a dozen auto companies since Beautycounter made that documentary.” “We definitely get an uptick of requests or inquiries about mica sourcing after there’s a big headline about it,” Erin Turner, business development manager, Effect Pigments for Cosmetics, at BASF, told me. For a growing number of cosmetics companies, responsibly sourced mica is true to brand. “You see the little guys start to differentiate using mica sourcing,” said Turner, who works with Beautycounter on the final leg of mica’s journey: processing it into the form that’s needed to go into various cosmetics recipes. “We definitely see an uptick — not only questionnaires but requests for audits on site. “I think Beautycounter has been very brave in taking their customers along for the ride. And they say upfront, this is a messy journey. But we have to start somewhere. I think it’s very authentic the way that they’re bringing their customers along.” For Beautycounter, its mica journey is also part of this particular moment, as Lindsay Dahl explained. “I think in general, the cultural conversation around equity that’s happening across the country is asking people to think differently about the brands that they’re supporting. It’s also having people think about equity in very new ways. It feels more relevant for people to think, ‘Oh, wait, I actually do care about a family I’ve never met in India.’ It does kind of continue the conversation of caring about people at a very human level. It’s as simple as that.” I invite you to follow me on Twitter , subscribe to my Monday morning newsletter, GreenBuzz , and listen to GreenBiz 350 , my weekly podcast, co-hosted with Heather Clancy. Pull Quote Being on their ground is incredibly powerful and humbling, and really makes you understand the true impact of the work and why it’s important to be doing it. It’s a delicate dance, but it really works best when there’s complete transparency. I’m sure there’s a handful of companies that don’t want to ask the questions because they don’t want the answers. Because once you get the answers, you have to deal with it. Topics Supply Chain Consumer Products Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Mica, through a child’s eye. All photos courtesy Beautycounter.

View original post here:
How transforming the mica supply chain transforms lives

Amazon, Google, Microsoft and the climate cloud

October 1, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Amazon, Google, Microsoft and the climate cloud

Amazon, Google, Microsoft and the climate cloud Heather Clancy Thu, 10/01/2020 – 01:30 Despite all they’re doing to address climate change with both emissions reduction plans, circular economy innovation and consumer awareness, Amazon, Google and Microsoft have been criticized — rightly so, in my mind — for their close ties to the oil and gas sector . All of them are using their artificial intelligence prowess and analytics power to help companies such as BP, Chevron and ExxonMobil continue exploration and extraction. When I asked Microsoft Chief Environmental Officer Lucas Joppa about this tension last year, he told me that changes won’t happen overnight. “Any clear-eyed person recognizes that this happens over time,” he said. “We will be relying on fossil fuels for some time.” Indeed, the relationship Microsoft disclosed last week with Shell is slightly different. Broadly focused on the fossil fuels company’s digital transformation, the applications being built collaboratively by the two companies are aimed at measuring carbon emissions — both Shell’s and those of its suppliers and customers. As part of its long-term strategy, Shell declared a net-zero emissions target by 2050 back in April.  But there’s a lot more to the relationship. Microsoft will procure electricity from Shell’s renewable energy portfolio as it works toward its 100 percent goal, and the two aspire to advance the use of sustainable aviation fuels.  “These complex challenges can’t be solved in isolation, or by doing business as usual,” said Judson Althoff, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Worldwide Commercial Business, in the blog about the deal. “We are proud to play our role in a sustainable future, and we know that a successful energy transition depends on strong technology partnerships anchored in co-innovation and development with leaders in the energy sector.”  These complex challenges can’t be solved in isolation, or by doing business as usual. Climate action purists will probably argue that any relationship with an oil company is bad news, but this one seems a step in the right direction. Frankly, I’d love to see more alliances centered on using the power of cloud computing services to move an industry closer to business practices that mitigate the impact of climate change. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, another development I’m watching closely centers on how cloud services powered by Microsoft would help scale adoption of regenerative agriculture. Another deal that has my attention is one between the Google cloud team and Unilever’s supply chain organization. The two are working on an application that uses the tech company’s AI and analytics power, combined with satellite imagery from the Google Earth Engine, to surface data about deforestation, water usage and biodiversity across the consumer products giant’s suppliers. The initial focus will be on deforestation, starting with sustainable palm oil — although other commodities will be added in the future. Unilever has committed to a “deforestation-free” supply chain by 2023. “The combination of these sustainability insights with our commercial sourcing information is a significant step-change in transparency, which is crucial to better protect and regenerate nature.” While I haven’t heard Amazon tout any relationships at this scale, the company’s sustainability data initiative is working with businesses that are using its cloud services to handle tasks such as solar irradiance forecasting and climate risk assessments . One way that all three tech giants could counter their legacy relationships with the fossil fuels sector would be to work on more deals of this nature actively — ones that have the power to transform entire industries. I think it’s pretty clear that the most positive impact that Amazon, Google and Microsoft can have on the climate movement is using their cloud computing might to transform and transition other businesses. We need to see more of this.  Pull Quote These complex challenges can’t be solved in isolation, or by doing business as usual. Topics Corporate Strategy Information Technology Artificial Intelligence Analytics Featured Column Practical Magic Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

More here:
Amazon, Google, Microsoft and the climate cloud

Carbon ‘rainbow’: Unilever pledges $1.2B to scrub fossil fuels from cleaning products

September 8, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Comments Off on Carbon ‘rainbow’: Unilever pledges $1.2B to scrub fossil fuels from cleaning products

Carbon ‘rainbow’: Unilever pledges $1.2B to scrub fossil fuels from cleaning products Cecilia Keating Tue, 09/08/2020 – 00:15 Unilever last week revealed plans to funnel close to $1.2 billion over the next 10 years into initiatives that will allow it to replace chemicals in its cleaning products made from fossil fuel feedstocks with greener alternatives — an investment it described as critical to meeting its aim of achieving net-zero emissions from its products by 2039. The new program, Clean Future, is largely focused on identifying and commercializing alternative sources of carbon for surfactants, the petrochemical molecules found in cleaning products that help remove grease from fabrics and surfaces. More than 46 percent of Unilever’s cleaning and laundry products’ carbon footprint is incurred by chemicals made from fossil fuel-produced carbon, most of which are used in surfactants.  However, the firm now intends to explore, invest and ramp up carbon capture and use technologies that will eliminate the need for fresh carbon feedstocks and instead allow it to tap recycled carbon already on or above ground, for example, through captured carbon dioxide or carbon captured from waste materials. Peter Styring, professor of chemical engineering and chemistry at the University of Sheffield, who has partnered with Unilever on the initiative, explained to BusinessGreen that Unilever’s investment could help catalyze a transition away from fossil fuel-derived petrochemicals, a lesser understood but necessary element of the move towards a net-zero emissions economy. “The move from fossil fuel is mainly associated with an energy transition. but similarly we need to look at a transition away from fossil fuel-derived petrochemicals,” he said. “The work we are doing is to try and replace existing chemicals within the supply chain, with not necessarily new chemicals but chemicals derived from a different supply.” Through a strategic partnership with Unilever, Styring’s team at the University of Sheffield is working to identity and develop the technologies that will allow the firm to divorce itself from chemicals made from fossil fuel feedstocks, a transition the multinational anticipates will reduce the carbon footprint of its laundry and cleaning products by as much as 20 percent. In an attempt to help consumers, competitors and partners understand its plans and the production processes behind the technologies it plans to explore, Unilever has devised a “carbon rainbow” model that outlines the alternatives to fossil fuel-produced carbon. On the carbon rainbow, carbon produced through captured carbon dioxide is dubbed “purple carbon”; plants and biological-sourced carbon is labeled “green carbon”; marine-sourced carbon is branded “blue carbon”; and waste material-sourced carbon is denoted as “grey carbon.” Conventional fossil fuel-derived carbon is simply known as “black carbon.” Unilever’s “carbon rainbow” classification system. Styring, a carbon capture and use expert, suggested that eliminating petrochemicals across industry will require active pursuit of all “shades” of the rainbow. “There is no silver bullet; nothing is going to cure the climate issue on its own,” he said. “There has to be a cooperative effect between different technologies. I would love to say purple carbon will be the No. 1 technology, but I can’t because at this stage I don’t know. It really will be a balance and the other shades on the rainbow have to be taken into account.” Unilever’s Clean Future program specifically will focus on funding biotechnology research, CO2 use and low-carbon chemistry, as well as biodegradable and water-efficient product formulations. It already supports a number of initiatives that aim to slash the environmental impact of the firm’s cleaning and laundry products. For example, in Slovakia, the company is working with biotechnology company Evonik Industries to develop the production of rhamnolipids, a renewable and biodegradable surfactant used in its Sunlight dishwashing liquid in Chile and Vietnam. And in Southern India, Unilever is sourcing soda ash — an ingredient in laundry powders — from CO2 capture technology. The firm expects to scale up the use of both technologies over the years to come. Meanwhile, liquid detergent made by Persil — one of Unilever’s largest and most popular brands in the United Kingdom — has been reformulated to rely on plant-based stain removers, with the new line expected to reach British supermarkets later this month. However, beyond the impact on Unilever’s product lines, Styring is hopeful Unilever’s commitment to pour $1.2 billion over 10 years into purging fossil fuel-derived chemicals from its laundry and cleaning products will have a major impact on improving public understanding of the role of environmentally damaging petrochemical feedstocks. “The carbon dioxide utilization industry is developing, and over the last 10 years there have been a lot of development, but it tends to be in niche industries that the public don’t really see — the production of ethanol and methanol and various chemicals,” he explained. “This is a chemical — or a series of chemicals — that goes into households around the world. This will have a big impact.” Unilever has committed to spend a part of its $1.2 billion pot to support the development of “brand communications” that explain the various new technologies to customers. Perhaps even more crucially, Styring reckons the new investment has the potential to accelerate the commercialization of renewable and recycled carbon feedstock technologies that so far largely have been confined to research departments around the world. “What will happen with these strategic partnerships is that you can identify which tech are going to be world-leading, and you can put investment into these in a way that a research council can’t,” he predicted. “Because ultimately you are looking for a commercial success, a product that will give you a profit and at the same time reduce environmental impact. So I think the investment Unilever is making here will accelerate these technologies and allow them to move from small scale, bench scale and small laboratory scale and target a much better commercial operation.” His team, for example, will be working with Unilever to investigate how different technologies can be clustered together to form a local ecosystem that can produce alternatives to black carbon at scale. The move from fossil fuel is mainly associated with an energy transition. but similarly we need to look at a transition away from fossil fuel-derived petrochemicals. “At the moment, the emphasis will be location, location, location,” Styring said. “Have you got the energy to do the chemistry — energy in terms of renewables — do you have the carbon dioxide readily available, do you have hydrogen and water readily available, do you have the inorganics?” Carbon use can be developed at major existing sources of carbon dioxide such as power stations and heavy industrial plans, and could be ramped up within a “couple years,” Styring suggested. In contrast, more ambitious projects focused on direct air capture (DAC) could prove effective but will require much more time and money to reach commercial viability. That said, Styring is still enthusiastic about the long-term prospects for DAC as it is ramped up, predicting its impact could prove to be “phenomenal.” DAC technology also has one big potential advantage over conventional carbon capture systems: It is not tied to a particular location and as such would give operators the ability to tap carbon from the air for their products anywhere in the world, eliminating the need for complex and costly transportation infrastructure and supply chains to ferry the captured carbon to production sites. Styring is hopeful that Unilever’s commitment will encourage the government to throw its weight behind carbon capture and use, a field where he believes the U.K. could emerge as a world leader. “When you go to [carbon capture use] conferences, the U.K. is always the highest represented nation outside of the organizing nation,” he observed. “But the funding doesn’t reflect this, in terms of government funding. Germany is by far and away the biggest funder of this type of research. We have the opportunity to use the best British science and engineering, and psychology and supply chain management. … We have the opportunity to make Britain a leading force, but it needs that investment.” Styring said he has been pressing the government to divert a portion of the subsidies it funnels into oil and gas into carbon capture and use technology designed to produce petrochemicals and produce fuels. The government would argue that it has been listening and plans are progressing — albeit slower than campaigners would like — for new net-zero clusters that could deploy a range of carbon capture use and storage clusters at industrial sites across the U.K. The wide-ranging implications that would flow from such hubs could prove to be hugely significant, providing the fossil fuel industry with both a means to decarbonize and new markets for its capture carbon. At the same time, advances in green and blue carbon could slash demand for fossil fuels at a time when oil majors are betting on the petrochemicals market to pick up some of the slack as the transition to electric vehicles gathers pace. Unilever’s $1.2 billion investment could yet have a huge impact far beyond the consumer goods market. Pull Quote The move from fossil fuel is mainly associated with an energy transition. but similarly we need to look at a transition away from fossil fuel-derived petrochemicals. Topics Corporate Strategy Innovation Bio Economy BusinessGreen Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off The materials innovation laboratory at the University of Liverpool. Courtesy of Unilever Close Authorship

Original post:
Carbon ‘rainbow’: Unilever pledges $1.2B to scrub fossil fuels from cleaning products

Where there’s hope for speeding up business action on plastics

August 26, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Comments Off on Where there’s hope for speeding up business action on plastics

Where there’s hope for speeding up business action on plastics Elsa Wenzel Wed, 08/26/2020 – 02:01 In 10 short years, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) arguably has done more than any other group to define and advance the circular economy. Its landmark report,  “The New Plastics Economy” (PDF),   sounded the alarm in 2016 that if “business as usual” continues, by 2025 the ocean may hold more plastic than fish by weight. Its commitment by the same name has attracted many of the planet’s biggest brand names, among 450-plus signatories, to dramatically slash their use or production of plastic by 2025. PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Unilever and even Tupperware  have signed on with governments and NGOs to do away with “unnecessary” plastics and innovate so that other plastics will be reused, recycled or composted; and kept out of natural systems. Only five years ago, few corporate leaders had plastic pollution on their official radar. Yet Dame Ellen MacArthur herself is floored by the rapid pace of change in business that has been forced by the COVID-19 pandemic. In food, for instance, business models and distribution methods were reshaped in a matter of weeks, as supply chains flexed to keep groceries in stock and farmers struggled to offload overripe crops. Digital networks and online platforms scaled to meet spiking demand during social distancing. In all this, she finds hope for systemic change toward a circular economy. Much of industry continues to embrace “throwaway living,” which was celebrated in this Life Magazine photograph in 1955.   “People have gotten used to having to jump quickly to change the system,” EMF Chair MacArthur said Tuesday at the GreenBiz Circularity 20 virtual event. “That hopefully will set a precedent for how we can do things in the future and how we can shift quickly in a light-footed way.” Time isn’t on the side of those who hope to prevent the projection by the  Pew Charitable Trusts  that plastic waste flows into the oceans will double in the next 20 years. Already, if all the world’s plastic waste could be shaped into a plastic shopping bag, all of Earth would fit inside of it, noted Morgan Stanley CMO and CSO Audrey Choi. Picture a double bag in 30 years. The business case Although the financial services firm is far from being in the business of producing or using plastic products, last year it set a resolution to work to keep 50 million metric tons of plastic out of ecosystems by 2030. It’s unique but not alone. The strength of collaborations emerging toward circular solutions, among corporate competitors as well as between business and government, has surprised MacArthur, for one: “The system has to change and I think more than ever, the companies involved in the system want to change.” Her remark came moments before the launch of  the US Plastics Pact  by EMF, The Recycling Partnership and WWF. Its 60 signatories across public and private sectors agree to advance circularity goals for plastic by 2025. Similar national plastics pacts are at play in Chile, France, Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa and the United Kingdom. Choi is among the execs sounding a call to action to propel business in a new direction on plastic. “I can’t think of another instance in which it would be a smart business position to take a finite natural resource, turn it into a product we use on average for 12 minutes and throw it away,” she said, citing that single-use plastic wastes $120 billion in economic value each year. “Business leaders often care but say either they can’t do anything about it because they’re not a major part of plastic value chain or because the problem is just too big,” she said. “It’s a global economy-wide issue but the fact that it is everywhere should inspire us to action. I believe that in virtually every C-suite you could go around the table and identify why every C-suite officer can care and benefit from trying to address the problem.” With the experience of having crafted Morgan Stanley’s Plastic Waste Resolution with input from the highest executives, Choi shared these specifics for others seeking to achieve buy-in from the top (She skipped the CEO, since all of it rolls up to them eventually): Chief financial officers CFOs may initially frown on making a change by switching costs or assume that alternatives are more costly. But they will find plenty of low-hanging fruit that can reduce operating and capital costs. For example, facilities that adopt cleaning products in powder or concentrate, in reusable containers, could shrink their shipping costs and carbon footprint while increasing profit margins. And companies have benefited from shifting public sentiment on plastics when they’ve issued corporate debt with proceeds tied to plastic waste reduction. Chief legal officers  CLOs have to keep up with a rapidly evolving patchwork of state laws governing plastic use and disposal, driven by activists, regulators and consumers. Bans on plastic straws, grocery bags and cup lids keep piling up, even if many are on hold during the coronavirus crisis. But company legal officers can streamline compliance and reduce liability by targeting plastic. Woe is the CLO who ignores public sentiment and risks lawsuits or fines; plastic waste branded with their company’s logo is a time bomb waiting to appear in the wrong place at the wrong time. Chief innovation officers For innovation chiefs, Choi sees the benefit as fairly intuitive. “Plastic waste reduction can be their muse, inspiring innovation through new products, new services, and new ways to engage customers,” she said. There’s an obvious wow factor to using new material that’s truly biodegradable or recyclable, just as IKEA is replacing plastic foam packaging with mushroom-based material that can be grown in a week, reused and then composted in a month. Chief marketing officers There’s a clear and growing opportunity for CMOs as customers vote with their purchases against plastic waste. For example, being the category leader in reducing plastic waste can be a chief differentiator beyond simply competing on price. “Selling your product in a beautiful, branded reusable container comes with the added benefit of the consumer looking to you and only you to refill that container.” If plastic rose to amazing heights in a matter of decades thanks to corporate marketing efforts, imagine the next revolution in plastics coming from the same source. Chief sustainability officers “It’s pretty self-explanatory why we should care about plastic waste reduction,” Choi said. In addition to the sustainability aspects, plastic goals are an opportunity to forge C-suite alliances and build bridges with clients and corporate partners, potentially leading to innovative programs and products. To reduce the plastic burden, Choi envisions drawing on the kinds of scientific discoveries, ingenuity, entrepreneurship and marketing that made plastic part of daily life in past decades. There are special challenges in this COVID-19 era, as single-use plastics, including disposable masks laced with microplastic fibers, flood waste streams and waterways at unprecedented levels. Yet advancing circularity also helps to meet climate targets. What does MacArthur consider crucial to making a difference on circularity in the next year or so? “We have an opportunity right now, like we’ve not had before, because of something tragic, to build in a different way,” including for the automotive, industrial and infrastructure sectors, she said. “Accepting what that looks like and making it happen, that for me, that’s the step.” Topics Circular Economy Circularity 20 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Single-use plastic cups: an endangered species? Shutterstock Svetlana Lukienko Close Authorship

Original post:
Where there’s hope for speeding up business action on plastics

Next Page »

Bad Behavior has blocked 3571 access attempts in the last 7 days.