Startup tackles decarbonizing industrial heat processes

September 16, 2020 by  
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Startup tackles decarbonizing industrial heat processes Myisha Majumder Wed, 09/16/2020 – 01:30 Skyven Technologies, founded in 2013, is a company with a unique proposition for companies in the industrial sector — a way to save money through decarbonizing. Skyven CEO Arun Gupta said the idea came when he applied the thinking behind his Ph.D. dissertation in microelectronics to an entirely different field: climate change. “I was able to figure out how to apply the technological concepts of the work that I was doing for Texas Instruments for a partial solution for climate change, and that inspired me to start working on is basically a technology that captures heat from the sun and uses that heat to reduce fuel consumption,” he said. The component of the industry sector emissions Skyven seeks to decarbonize is process heat — such as the creation of steam — which accounts for a large component of the emissions from the industry sector. In order to manufacture products, companies in the industry sector must burn fuel, typically natural gas, to create heat. Technologies such as geothermal, biomass and solar, which Skyven initially focused on, can provide an alternative to natural gas to generate heat for industrial processes. This is particularly relevant in the sectors Skyven works in: the food and beverage manufacturing industry; pulp and paper; chemicals; pharmaceutical manufacturing; textiles; and primary metals and lumbers. Rather than trying to fit one technology or one solution into every plant, we found that the plants are all unique and they have unique needs. In 2018, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that the three largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions were transportation (28 percent), electricity (27 percent), and industry (22 percent). Even with decarbonizing the electric and transportation sector, to reach long-term goals of the Paris Agreement, the United States would need an 80 percent reduction from 2005 levels in economy-wide emissions by 2050. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions found five core imperatives to reaching climate neutrality, including electrifying or switching to low-carbon fuels in the industry sector. While providing an alternative using solar technology was the original technological goal for Skyven, the company has evolved significantly, adapting to the individual needs of different companies in the industrial sector, Gupta said. Rather than focusing solely on deploying the company’s initial in-house solar technology, Skyven transformed quickly into a company offering a multipronged approach for decarbonizing the industrial sector. “The need for decarbonization in the industrial sector spans far beyond solar. Rather than trying to fit one technology or one solution into every plant, we found that the plants are all unique and they have unique needs,” Gupta said. “It makes a lot more sense to meet those unique needs with unique solutions.” Typically, in order to determine these needs and gauge applicable solutions, Skyven employs a four-step procedure: initial plant analysis; addressing and mitigating concerns about potential solutions; deployment and implementation of solution; and operations and maintenance (O&M). This highly customizable procedure allows Skyven to determine the best fit solution company-to-company, and within that company, plant-to-plant, rather than deploying a general technology. As part of this process, Skyven’s team completes a thorough initial analysis using its custom platform, asking the customer specific questions and collecting data about where in the plant thermal energy is consumed. From there, Skyven identifies where there are opportunities to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, reduce fuel consumption and save money. Interacting with the customer is especially important for the manufacturing industry, where production is profit, Gupta said. Using that analysis, Skyven implements the technologies best suited for the plant, which can include Skyven’s solar technology, but does not always. Because of this, Skyven frequently partners with other startups and technology manufacturers. When the new system is in place, Skyven hires a third-party maintenance contractor with extensive experience with industrial hardware. Typically, Skyven pays for everything involved in the process — from initial analysis to equipment and to O&M, Gupta said. The only cost to the customer is a newly lowered fuel cost amount, he said. These payments cover more cost-efficient and sustainable thermal energy at a cost that is less than the customer otherwise would have paid for fossil fuel, according to the company. While Gupta did not communicate the names of Skyven’s current customers, citing sensitivity around publicly disclosing information about manufacturers, he discussed recent press coverage around the Copses Dairy Farms in New York state.

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Startup tackles decarbonizing industrial heat processes

Accelerate at Circularity 20: Fast-Pitch Competition

September 9, 2020 by  
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Accelerate at Circularity 20: Fast-Pitch Competition At Circularity 20, GreenBiz’s online circular economy event, five startups presented their potentially world-altering ideas during the Accelerate competition. This GreenBiz tradition began in 2012 at its VERGE events, offering a venue where startups make a 2.5-minute pitch of their technology to the audience. During the event, the online audience voted on its favorite, and an expert panel of Taj Eldridge, senior director of investments at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), and Monique Mills, with the Startup Catalyst at the Advanced Technology Development Center at Georgia Institute of Technology, offered thoughts on the startups and their potential. Speakers Taj Eldridge, senior director of investments at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) Monique Mills, head of the Startup Catalyst at the Advanced Technology Development Center at Georgia Institute of Technology Shana Rappaport, Executive Director at GreenBiz Holly Secon Tue, 09/08/2020 – 20:35 Featured Off

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Paper, plastic or neither? Inside the collaboration to reinvent the shopping bag

September 2, 2020 by  
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Paper, plastic or neither? Inside the collaboration to reinvent the shopping bag Tali Zuckerman Wed, 09/02/2020 – 01:45 Replacing the single-use shopping bag may be one of the most complex sustainability challenges of our time. At GreenBiz’s Circularity 20 virtual conference last week, sustainability leaders from Target, Walmart and CVS came together to discuss how they are planning to do just that, and why working together despite being competitors is critical to achieving success. Their initiative, which launched last month , is called “Beyond the Bag” — a $15 million, three-year commitment to developing, testing and implementing an innovative replacement for single-use retail bags. The project, led in collaboration with managing firm Closed Loop Partners and a few other nonprofit and private members, aims to redesign the way customers get goods from store to home. “It’s great to think of a slightly better bag, but the real excitement is when you are open to a transformative idea and a way that hasn’t been thought of,” said Amanda Nusz, vice president of corporate social responsibility at Target, during the Circularity 20 session. The consortium’s goal is to develop a range of solutions to fit consumer needs, including innovations in materials, delivery options and recovery after use. Having different perspectives, different people with different backgrounds … that’s where you get true innovation. But driving such immense, industry-wide change is no easy task. No company is equipped to do it alone. The panelists stressed that the transformation will require a new approach founded in precompetitive collaboration, one that brings diverse voices to the project, signals new needs to suppliers and spreads the core message to consumers. For that reason, the project plans to involve a broad range of consumers, innovators and stakeholders in the development process. “Having different perspectives, different people with different backgrounds … that’s where you get true innovation,” said Jane Ewing, senior vice president of sustainability at Walmart. The panelists noted that any alternatives the consortium creates will need to match the functionality and convenience of current options on the market as well as minimize any unintended consequences along the way. By collectively standing against single-use bags, each company hopes to establish a new normal in retail. “Our collective approach sends an important, unified message of commitment,” said Eileen Howard Boone, senior vice president of corporate social responsibility and philanthropy at CVS. “[It] sends a signal to suppliers and innovators of how closely together we are standing to make sure that we see some change.” Any solution will require work in areas of consumer awareness and education, the panelists said. “There is a lot of education that has to happen,” Boone said. “Part of the benefit of this collaborative is that there will be more voices pushing out the same conversation.” Moderating the session, Kate Daly, managing director of Closed Loop Partners, highlighted the unique position of the retail giants to create “ripple effects” for smaller businesses in the retail industry. Addressing the speakers, she noted: “You’re opening up the market for these innovations, you are doing the heavy lift of testing them and de-risking them, and that makes that available to the ecosystem.” For retailers that want to join this initiative or take on a similar one themselves, the panelists offered several key pieces of advice. Primarily, they stressed that companies must clearly identify what problem they are trying to solve, seek allies that have a shared vision and engage a broad set of stakeholders to drive innovation. Daly also encouraged anyone with ideas or innovations for Beyond the Bag to reach out to her directly. Amidst their hopeful tone, the panelists underscored that the road to plastic-free shopping will be long and complex. “These issues aren’t one-time, short-term solutions,” Boone put simply. “They are going to take a lot of time to course correct.” How much time? We will have to wait and see. Based on the conversation, the more that customers and companies collaborate to drive innovation and push for change, the better the chance for collective success. “Now, coming together with others and bringing more people to the table,” Boone said, “the art of possible has grown very, very large.” Pull Quote Having different perspectives, different people with different backgrounds … that’s where you get true innovation. Topics Circular Economy Circularity 20 Plastic Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Courtesy of Erik Mclean/Unsplash Close Authorship

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Carbon pricing works, and this proves it

September 1, 2020 by  
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Carbon pricing works, and this proves it Paul Burke Tue, 09/01/2020 – 00:45 Putting a price on carbon should reduce emissions, because it makes dirty production processes more expensive than clean ones, right? That’s the economic theory. Stated baldly, it’s obvious; however, there is perhaps a tiny chance that what happens in practice might be something else. In a newly published paper , we set out the results of the largest study of what happens to emissions from fuel combustion when they attract a charge. We analyzed data for 142 countries over more than two decades, 43 of which had a carbon price of some form by the end of the study period. The results show that countries with carbon prices on average have annual carbon dioxide emissions growth rates that are about two percentage points lower than countries without a carbon price, after taking many other factors into account. By way of context, the average annual emissions growth rate for the 142 countries was about 2 percent per year. This size of effect adds up to very large differences over time. It is often enough to make the difference between a country having a rising or a declining emissions trajectory. Emissions tend to fall in countries with carbon prices A quick look at the data gives a first clue. The figure below shows countries that had a carbon price in 2007 as a black triangle and countries that did not as a green circle. On average, carbon dioxide emissions fell by 2 percent per year from 2007 to 2017 in countries with a carbon price in 2007 and increased by 3 percent per year in the others. The difference between an increase of 3 percent per year and a decrease of 2 percent per year is five percentage points. Our study finds that about two percentage points of that are due to the carbon price, with the remainder due to other factors. The higher the price, the greater the benefit The challenge was pinning down the extent to which the change was due to the implementation of a carbon price and the extent to which it was due to a raft of other things happening at the same time, including improving technologies, population and economic growth, economic shocks, measures to support renewables and differences in fuel tax rates. We controlled for a long list of other factors, including the use of other policy instruments. It would be reasonable to expect a higher carbon price to have bigger effects, and this is indeed what we found. On average, an extra euro per tonne of carbon dioxide price is associated with a lowering in the annual emissions growth rate of about 0.3 percentage points in the sectors it covers. Avoid the politics if possible The message to governments is that carbon pricing almost certainly works, and typically, to great effect. While a well-designed approach to reducing emissions would include other complementary policies , such as regulations in some sectors and support for low-carbon research and development, carbon pricing ideally should be the centerpiece of the effort. Unfortunately, the politics of carbon pricing have been highly poisoned in Australia, despite its popularity in a number of countries with conservative governments, including Britain and Germany. Even Australia’s Labor opposition seems to have given up. Nevertheless, it should be remembered that Australia’s two-year experiment with carbon pricing delivered emissions reductions as the economy grew. It was working as designed. Groups such as the Business Council of Australia that welcomed the abolition of the carbon price back in 2014 are calling for an effective climate policy with a price signal at its heart. Carbon pricing elsewhere The results of our study are highly relevant to many governments, especially those in industrializing and developing countries, that are weighing their options. The world’s top economics organizations, including the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, continue to call for expanded use of carbon pricing. If countries are keen on a low-carbon development model, the evidence suggests that putting an appropriate price on carbon is a very effective way of achieving it. Contributors Frank Jotzo Rohan Best Topics Carbon Policy The Conversation Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Zdenek Sasek Close Authorship

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New sparks for the electric vehicle industry

August 25, 2020 by  
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New sparks for the electric vehicle industry Zoé Bezpalko Tue, 08/25/2020 – 01:45 Thinking back to the beginning of 2020 can seem like a lifetime ago. Before the pandemic took root on a global level, the transportation industry was already in the midst of a great and exciting transition. The move to electric vehicles (EVs) was intensifying.  Take General Motors, for example. In early March, the company announced it would have 20 new EVs by 2023. It also is tackling ambitious innovations with its Ultium battery and propulsion system that could enable a GM-estimated range up to 400 miles or more on a full charge with 0 to 60 mile-per-hour acceleration as low as three seconds.  And then COVID-19 hit. Sales for all vehicles plummeted. But new consumer revelations were (and are) occurring on a daily basis — and it is good news for the EV market. People are appreciating how skies can be clearer and bluer with fewer cars on the road. We’re learning the value of our time and resources with lessons in how to shop more efficiently with fewer trips. With a growing unease in taking public transportation, the demand for electric bikes and cars is also skyrocketing.  While governmental incentives for the EV market in the United States are minimal, the private sector is jumping on board to continue the momentum and meet the new consumer demand.  In June, Lyft announced that every vehicle on its platform will be electric by 2030. Despite a setback in the construction of its factory during the shutdown, Rivian will debut its electric pickup truck and electric SUV next summer. The company is also on track to manufacture more than 100,000 electric vans for Amazon. And GM isn’t shying away from its announcement and commitment to EVs, stating in May that it is continuing at full speed. But there is still much more that needs to change and be done. The present and future opportunities for EVs What can be done to propel the EV industry even further despite the current global climate with COVID-19? Like anything in today’s landscape, it’s complicated — but it’s possible to achieve new inroads. Let’s be honest. EV design and manufacturing comes with an entirely different set of challenges, even without a global pandemic as a backdrop. From EV design to manufacturing and battery optimization and production, we must address needed changes head-on for a radical, new approach to design and manufacturing. Battery changes Of course, not every company can be GM and create its own battery system. That’s why there is a need for greater openness in battery design and production — and what is actually inside the “black box” battery pack provided by manufacturers. If we can tap into the battery itself, we can further innovate for more efficiency. Battery packs contain components such as cooling, sensors and battery management systems that, if more open, could allow engineers and designers to optimize storage and layout for energy efficiency. With the development of integrated digital design tools, the hope is that addressing both the battery and the car’s geometry in one combined design process will lead to greater efficiency for both.  Manufacturing changes Even before COVID-19, automotive manufacturers and suppliers already were looking at new ways to modernize factories for better performance and reduced energy consumption. Last fall, Porsche opened a new, innovative factory to manufacture its first fully electric sports car, the Taycan. The zero-impact facility is the largest built since the company was founded 70 years ago, and it is also one of the first in the world to begin use of driverless transport systems within the factory. It’s a great example of not only the acceleration of EV availability in the market, but a better way to approach manufacturing, too. COVID-19 and its disruptive impacts on the global supply chain have accelerated how manufacturers and OEMs are looking at their production for more resilience. When factories shut down, it was a chance to step back and think of embedding sustainability throughout operations, in the factory layout itself, or leveraging more additive and local manufacturing. That also means greater opportunity to bring EV manufacturing and production more into the fold and mainstream. EV design changes On the vehicle design side, there are still untapped opportunities to improve battery range, especially through lightweighting and friction reduction. Frictions can be reduced by employing computational fluid dynamics software for simulation. And using generative design , designers can look at an incredible array of options to reduce the overall weight of the car.  Imagine taking an EV design and inputting the parameters to optimize such as geometry, materials, mechanical properties or even the manufacturing process. With generative design, the design team can explore the generated solutions and prioritize and choose what is most important for their goals. What’s more, the power of generative design truly shines when coupled with additive manufacturing to reduce waste in production. It even can solve some supply chain challenges for parts availability. GM has been putting generative design to the test, especially for lightweighting. Its very first proof-of-concept project was for a small, yet important, component — the seat bracket where seat belts are fastened. With parameters based on required connection points, strength and mass, the software returned more than 150 valid design options. The team quickly identified the new seat bracket with a unique, unimaginable style, which is 40 percent lighter, 20 percent stronger and consolidates eight components into one 3D-printed part.  Driving forward If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we are all much more resilient than we thought possible. This global pandemic is offering us an opportunity to reflect on a future we want — one that is not only more sustainable, but also more equitable for all. We are embracing change as never before. As we all adapt to our new reality, industries also follow suit. Change and adaptability always has been endemic to the EV industry. We have made huge strides already. Now it’s time to keep driving forward. Pull Quote EV design and manufacturing comes with an entirely different set of challenges, even without a global pandemic as a backdrop. Topics Transportation & Mobility Design & Packaging COVID-19 Electric Vehicles Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Porsche’s zero-impact factory designed to manufacture electric vehicles. Image courtesy of Porsche.

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Journey Foods uses AI to create sustainability recipe for food manufacturers

August 20, 2020 by  
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Journey Foods uses AI to create sustainability recipe for food manufacturers Jesse Klein Thu, 08/20/2020 – 02:00 Riana Lynn’s company, Journey Foods , is dragging the packaged food business into the 21st century.  “Food manufacturing has really only scaled up in the last 60 years,” she said. “And that means we’re also working on very antiquated methods.”  Her company’s software uses machine learning, artificial intelligence, data scraping and cohort analysis to recommend the most nutritious and more sustainable ingredients for food companies, such as its partners Ingredion and Unilever.   In 2018, the global packaged food industry generated $2.77 trillion , an amount expected to reach almost $5 trillion by 2027. With veganism surging , many of those trillions of dollars will be spent on plant-based products that companies will need to redevelop to appease shoppers.   According to Lynn, when a food company wants to move to a gluten-free or plant-based version of one of its core products, that process takes a lot of trial and error. JourneyAI, the software from Journey Foods, is designed to recommend the most suitable almond flour or vegan butter alternative, helping the business save time, money and resources in the formulating or reformulating process. “We’re making sure that the cost and sustainability and nutrition match for that product,” Lynn said. “We can make sure that the cost is right and availability of alternatives are right, so the customer can buy an improved product without a lot of waste.” The software uses machine learning to recommend the most nutritious and more sustainable ingredients for the big food companies. Journey Foods analyzes over 260 characteristics including general nutrition, mass macronutrient values and proprietary sustainability scores in its recommendation engine. And it not only categorizes and analyzes ingredients but also connects food companies with suppliers, acting as an efficient middle man in the supply chain. Journey Bites is a proof-of-concept product. Courtesy of Journey Foods. Journey Bites, the company’s limited direct-to-consumer fruit snack offering, was a proof-of-concept product meant to model and prove out the software’s data methodology and problem-solving features. The small cubes come in two flavor varieties: mango and cayenne spice and strawberry and chia . The products are packed with nutritional benefits such as healthy vitamins, fiber and naturally occurring antioxidants such as polyphenols. While improved nutrition was Lynn’s first goal with Journey Foods, she said there was a natural evolution into thinking more about sustainability.  “Sustainability came in a little bit later down the road,” she said. “Even though that’s a passion of mine.” Lynn is a scientist at heart with a background in biology. Working with big data sets while doing genetics research at the University of Chicago helped prepare her data management portion of the business. And her experience of the food deserts around the university inspired the focus on food and nutrition. After working on investment teams and at the White House, she turned to the startup world, becoming an entrepreneur in residence at Google.   Lynn underscores the importance of introducing more biodiversity in food for sustainability and has seen mungbean and sea plants such as algae and phytoplankton become trendy ingredients for food companies looking for more sustainable options. The proprietary sustainability scores used in JourneyAI combine information from university environmental programs, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework Guidance and other information specific to unique sustainable manufacturers. Journey Foods’ methodology targets greenhouse gas emissions and water use. “There are manufacturers that use less water in the process,” Lynn said. “But because of the way that they extract, they can pull more nutrient density.” According to Lynn, Vesta Ingredients , an ingredient manufacturer in Indianapolis, is one of those unconventional, more sustainable manufacturers that is getting in front of more eyes because of Journey Foods’ algorithm.  Lynn wants her algorithm to tangibly affect the industry and make a real change from inside the big food company’s recipes.   “We are really after the goal of creating the most actionable database for consumer product companies,” she said.  Pull Quote The software uses machine learning to recommend the most nutritious and more sustainable ingredients for the big food companies. Topics Food & Agriculture Food & Agriculture Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Digital technology, green finance in vogue among fashion’s sustainability trendsetters

August 5, 2020 by  
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Digital technology, green finance in vogue among fashion’s sustainability trendsetters Phylicia Wu Wed, 08/05/2020 – 01:00 The key to long-term success in the fashion industry is to start trends and continually push the envelope — a philosophy that also applies to its ESG priorities. The $2.5 trillion industry accounts for about 8 percent of the world’s carbon emissions when considering the entire value chain — higher than the entire iron and steel manufacturing industry combined, for comparison. Without any intervention, that figure is projected to increase more than 60 percent by 2030. However, there is a growing and collective awareness of environmental impact across the industry. Companies are discovering sustainability is not just a fad, but a new standard that is here to stay.  A proliferation of greening initiatives from industry players has emerged with public announcements of policies to tackle this issue, measures to address their supply chain footprints, promotion of circular economy practices and encouragement for sustainable brands growing increasingly popular. However, despite these various green initiatives from several early trendsetters in the fashion industry, formidable challenges lay ahead on the path to scaling up sustainability — especially when it comes to supply chain strategies. The lack of environmental impact information and outdated technology are two ubiquitous issues plaguing industrial supply chains in general, but they are especially significant in the context of the fashion industry.  Due to highly price-competitive environments, upstream supply chain participants have little motivation to invest in improvements. Downstream supply chain participants that rarely have a personal stake, such as powerful brands and retailers, hardly encourage prioritization of sustainability upstream. These dynamics have led to the development of stagnant supply chains largely unable to respond to the urgency of the fashion industry’s significant carbon footprint.  Given that most emissions are produced along the supply chain, companies’ inability to monitor and track this data means that there is not a starting point to begin improving their environmental footprints. In particular, inadequate data collection infrastructure along the supply chain has resulted in a shortage of environmental data and information transparency. According to the 2020 Fashion Transparency Index survey, while 78 percent of brands have policies on energy and carbon emissions, only 16 percent publish data on the annual carbon footprints of their supply chain. Given that most emissions are produced along the supply chain, companies’ inability to monitor and track this data means that there is not a starting point to begin improving their environmental footprints.  The reluctance to upgrade to new technology can be partly attributed to thin operating margins of fashion supply chains leading to inefficiencies along the entire chain. One of the most candid illustrations of inefficiencies caused by antiquated technology is in the manufacturing process, where conventional practices still take 2,700 liters — or three years’ worth of drinking water — to make a typical cotton T-shirt.  Traditional manufacturers abide by the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” adage, while the ultimate retailer of the shirt has no direct ties to the manufacturer. Thus even if the manufacturer had a sustainability policy, it would be difficult to enforce. When both upstream and downstream participants of the supply chain are at odds with modernization, it prevents the changes needed to respond to the climate impact of the industry.  But it is not all doom and gloom. This is where green finance and technology come in. Their dual adoption can begin to address the environmental data gaps and also boost efficiency for production processes in the supply chain that would usher along a much-needed evolution of the fashion industry towards greater sustainability.  Digital technology will play a pivotal role in addressing information transparency and environmental reporting in the fashion industry by facilitating data collection along the supply chain. Using blockchain and cloud-based technology, a number of startups are already laying the groundwork.  For example, blockchain platform Provenance helps trace and certify supply chains to enable ethical procurement decisions. Another startup, Galaxius, offers a cloud-based system that tracks supply chain activity from fabric orders to garment delivery. Beyond startups, fashion luxury giant Kering Group launched an app called My EP&L that tracks carbon emissions, water consumption and air and water pollution along its supply chain to educate designers and students on sustainable design principles. Recently, Stella McCartney and Google Cloud announced a partnership to determine the environmental impact of various types of raw materials. All of these efforts contribute to advancing data collection at different points along the supply chain and have the potential to provide unprecedented levels of transparency for the industry. Dated technology in the production phase of the supply chain creates significant challenges in two ways. The first is in more eco-friendly product material innovation. New textiles, alternative raw materials and sustainable dyeing methods are made possible through scientific and technological ingenuity.  For example, Tencel, a super-absorbent fiber made from wood pulp, offers a great alternative to synthetic activewear. Lenzing Group, producer of Tencel, also uses a closed-loop production process and sustainable dyeing technology in which solvents needed to make the fiber are recycled over and over again to produce new fibers. But the higher costs associated with upgrading machinery to produce more eco-friendly materials typically associated with such innovations hinders their wider acceptance.  The second challenge relates to upgrades and updates to the supply chain that boost efficiency, promote better resource allocation, identify potential cost savings, predict demand and provide other benefits that mitigate the industry’s environmental impact.  Startups such as Optoro and ShareCloth use artificial intelligence, machine learning and other emerging technologies to digitize processes to lower excess inventory and reduce textile waste. However, similar to the cost barriers that impede wider adoption of eco-friendly materials, these new technologies depend on customized machinery or entirely new production facilities, which may be more capital-intensive and require considerable new capital expenditures when compared to traditional manufacturing processes.  Just digital technology for supply chain improvements will not be enough. Fashion will need green finance to drive large-scale transformation. The Boston Consulting Group estimates that commercializing and scaling these innovations will require $20 billion to $30 billion of financing per year.  The Boston Consulting Group estimates that commercializing and scaling these innovations will require $20 billion to $30 billion of financing per year. Promising green finance developments in the fashion industry already are underway. Traditional lenders have begun to ink green bonds and sustainability-linked loans. In November, Prada became the first fashion company to sign a $59 million sustainability-linked loan with Crédit Agricole.  Under the terms of the loan, Prada can pay a reduced interest rate if it achieves targets related to the number of LEED Gold or Platinum-certified stores, the number of training hours employees receive, and the use of Prada Re-Nylon (regenerated nylon) in the production of goods. In February, VF Corporation closed its $591 million green bond, marking the first green bond issued in the industry.  Private equity investors are also paying attention to startup fashion brands. Just last year, The Carlyle Group made its first foray into the industry by acquiring a stake in Jeanologia, and Permira acquired a majority stake in the ethical fashion brand Reformation. In September 2019, the $30 million Good Fashion Fund launched, representing the first investment fund focused solely on driving the implementation of innovative solutions in the fashion industry.  Brands also have started to form corporate venture capital arms to create opportunities for green finance. Examples include Patagonia’s Tin Shed Ventures, launched as a $20 million fund in 2013, and H&M’s CO:LAB, which has made investments ranging from $1 million to $20 million in sustainable fashion.  Prada, by scaling and incentivizing its regenerated nylon technology through its green finance partnership with Credit Agricole, serves as a pioneer for the industry. However, the solutions offered by advancements in technology and green finance admittedly will need more buy-in from companies across the fashion world.  Some ideas that can move fashion in a greener direction include establishing long-term business strategies that incorporate plans for sustainable solutions, employing creative approaches to applying sustainability across supply chains and developing best practices for environmental data monitoring and reporting.  A recent press release from Google and WWF Sweden announcing plans to create an environmental data platform, the latest green financing deal by Moncler for up to $472 million that is tied to its environmental impact reduction targets and a similar arrangement by Salvatore Ferragamo for up to $295 million are welcome steps in the right direction, even in the midst of a global pandemic.  The future is indeed hopeful as sustainability continues to be championed across the industry and its supply chain. Green finance and digital technology will be increasingly critical drivers for the development of greener and more sustainable supply chains. The fashion industry always has been creative, innovative and bold in its designs; now is the time to channel these qualities to secure a fashionable future that is green and sustainable. This article was adapted from the Paulson Institute’s three-part series on sustainability in the fashion industry. Pull Quote Given that most emissions are produced along the supply chain, companies’ inability to monitor and track this data means that there is not a starting point to begin improving their environmental footprints. The Boston Consulting Group estimates that commercializing and scaling these innovations will require $20 billion to $30 billion of financing per year. Topics Corporate Strategy Supply Chain Fashion Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Prefab Floating Music Hub to set sail in Cape Verde

July 31, 2020 by  
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International design practice NLÉ has unveiled its designs for the MFS IV, a prefabricated Floating Music Hub for the port city of Mindelo in Cape Verde. Developed as the fourth prototype of the firm’s Makoko Floating System, the project is the first in the series to be built in the Atlantic Ocean. The prefabricated floating hub , which is currently under construction, will consist of a cluster of three buildings of varying sizes that will house a large multipurpose performance hall, a professional recording studio and a small service bar.  Created for ADS (Africa Development Solutions) Cabo Verde, the Floating Music Hub builds on NLÉ’s objective to shape architecture in developing cities and communities. NLÉ first debuted its Makoko Floating System in 2012 with the Makoko Floating School in Lagos; the project collapsed after being adversely affected by heavy rains in 2016. The design firm crafted a second iteration of the school, called MFS II , at the Venice Architectural Biennale 2016. Then, in 2018, NLÉ installed a third iteration, the MFS III, with an improved design in Bruges, Belgium. Related: Floating prefab architecture addresses climate change on Chengdu’s Jincheng Lake NLÉ’s design revisions have led it to bring the Makoko Floating System back to Africa, this time in the beautiful Mindelo Bay in Cape Verde’s São Vicente. “It is designed and engineered to even higher performance specifications and quality for marine environments,” noted the architects, who have teamed up with an array of local and international partners, including the likes of JMP, CFA, SINA and AECOM, among others.  Like its predecessors, the MFS IV Floating Music Hub will be prefabricated out of timber for rapid assembly, mobility and flexibility. The floating community landmark will comprise a trio of triangular buildings — a multipurpose performance hall, a professional recording studio and a service bar — clustered around a triangular floating public plaza designed to promote music, dance, art and other creative industries. + NLÉ Images via NLÉ

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What to do with banana peels

July 31, 2020 by  
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Banana peels. They’re so associated with comedy, you probably crack a smile just thinking about these famous casings. Bananas are a delicious snack and a little taste of the tropics that just about everyone enjoys, but they’re also an environmental problem. So what can you do with banana peels once you’ve eaten the delicious treats they keep wrapped inside? What’s the big deal? Other than being an obvious slip-and-fall hazard, what’s the big deal with banana peels? For starters, they produce methane gas. This gas is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide, which is already pretty bad stuff for the planet. Related: 10 ways to use up mushy, overripe bananas Americans eat around 3.2 billion — yes, billion — pounds of bananas every year. That is a lot of methane-producing peels. But don’t give up on eating bananas just yet. There are plenty of environmentally friendly uses for banana peels. Banana peels as fertilizer and compost If you’re a home gardener, banana peels are a valuable resource. Wrap your peels around the base of your tomato plants. This works as a great slow-release fertilizer that provides your plants with nutrients, namely phosphorus, throughout the season. You can also soak your peels in water overnight. Take the banana-rich water and mix it with standard water to use for all your indoor plants. You want to get a ratio of about one part banana-peel water to five parts normal water. Banana peels are a great addition to the compost pile or bin because they are so rich in nutrients. The peels break down very quickly in compost. These peels are also great for animal feed as well. If you keep chickens, rabbits or any type of livestock, grind up dried banana peels and add them to your feed. Do you have aphids in your garden ? Cut two or three banana peels into pieces and dig one-inch holes near the base of your plants that are damaged from insects. Drop the pieces of peel inside. Ants and aphids will be drawn to the peels instead of to your plants. Home remedies If you have itchy bug bites or a rash, such as poison ivy, these fruit skins provide soothing relief. Rub the peel directly on the area to reduce the itchiness and help your skin heal. You can even use banana peels as a cheap polish. Rub the outer layer of peels on leather items of all kinds, including shoes and furniture, to polish the leather. Blend a peel with water to make silver polish. Need to remove a splinter? Leave the needles in the sewing kit and grab yourself a banana peel. Tape a piece of the peel to the skin directly where the splinter has embedded itself and leave it there for about 30 minutes. The enzymes in the peel will naturally draw the splinter toward the surface of the skin so it can easily be pulled out. You can integrate banana peels into your daily skincare routine, as they may help fade scars and soothe acne. Rub the fleshy part of the peel directly on your face. Let it sit for about 10 minutes before you rinse your face thoroughly. Do this every day, and you could notice an improvement in scars and acne within a week or two. Banish bugs Grab a container with a lid and poke some small holes in the lid. Place the peel inside and cover the container with the perforated lid. This is a great way to attract and trap fruit flies and other little insects. They’re drawn to the sweet smell of the banana, and then they’re trapped by your DIY trick. You can throw the peel away after a day or two and freshen the trap as needed. Cook with banana peels Get creative and start experimenting with cooking banana peels. They can be made into vinegar, pickled in brine, broiled with cinnamon and sugar to become a unique dessert or even turned into a spicy curry. There are dozens of ways to cook with the peels that you once threw away. Once you start using them in your recipes, you’re going to find all kinds of ways to give new life to those peels. Add a peel to any roasting pan when you’re cooking meat or fish. This helps to tenderize and moisten the meat while it’s cooking. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can actually just eat your banana peels. They’re full of antioxidants and nutrients, so they’re actually really good for you. Boil peels for about 10 minutes in water and run it through the juicer or blend it up with other fruits and enjoy! Banana peels make a great chutney ingredient, too. Soak them in cold water, then boil the peels and chop them up to mix in with other chutney ingredients to add a tasty, nutritious burst to your dish. There are several different recipes for banana tea online, or you can play around with your own recipe . If you boil the peels for about 10 minutes, enough flavor will be released into the water to create a great flavor. You can also candy your peels to use as a topping for cupcakes, cakes, yogurt, ice cream and a variety of other treats. Chop up the peel into small pieces and cook it on medium heat with a half-cup of sugar and a half-cup of water. Once it caramelizes, spread the mixture on a cookie sheet or parchment paper to allow it to cool. Then, you can chop or break it into pieces and have a sweet banana topping any time. Getting serious about banana peels It’s no laughing matter — banana peels have too many uses to simply be thrown away. The peels are a great source of both potassium, magnesium and fiber, and they’re packed with Vitamins C and B6. So if you’re throwing out your peels, you’re losing out on an all-purpose personal care product, household remedy, garden aid and cooking ingredient that can be added to just about anything. Images via Louis Hansel , t_watanabe , Vicran and bluebudgie

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What to do with banana peels

Nature lovers rejoice as Great American Outdoors Act wins House vote

July 24, 2020 by  
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On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the  Great American Outdoors Act , which secures funding to protect many U.S.  parks  and recreation areas. Now all the bill needs is President Trump’s signature. The important environmental bill promises permanent funding for the  Land Water Conservation Fund  (LWCF). While most people aren’t familiar with the fund, it has been working behind the scenes since 1964, using oil and gas industry revenue to pay for national, local and state parks and federal historic sites. Related: The importance of greenways during a pandemic The bill reads, “There shall be deposited into the fund an amount equal to 50% of all federal revenues from the development of oil, gas, coal , or alternative or renewable energy on federal lands and waters.” The fund must be used for priority deferred maintenance projects administered by the National Park Service, Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Indian Education. While the LWCF has existed for over 50 years, non-conservation projects often siphoned off its funds. In 2020, the fund only received $495 million out of the $900 million put into its account — far below the budget needed to maintain  trails  and park facilities. Groups around the country rejoice over this win. “While not costing taxpayers a penny as the funding comes from royalties collected through offshore oil and gas drilling , LWCF has supported over 42,000 parks and recreation projects across the country, secured more than 100 national battlefields and protected more than 2.2 million acres of national parks,” Maite Arce, President and CEO of the  Hispanic Access Foundation , said in a statement. “In fact the majority of Americans live only minutes from an LWCF site. Americans of all stripes reap the benefits of these protected places, which help support local businesses and provide outdoor access and opportunities for hunters, fishermen, climbers,  hikers , bikers, and campers across America.” In light of the pandemic hitting the economy hard and keeping people cooped up to the point of stir craziness, the bill’s passage seems especially timely. A recent poll by the National Recreation and Park Association found that 83% of U.S. adults said that access to open spaces, local parks and trails is essential for their mental and physical well-being during these times. + GlobeNewswire Image via Pexels

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Nature lovers rejoice as Great American Outdoors Act wins House vote

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