Water-powered shower head speaker made from recycled plastic wins honors at CES

February 23, 2021 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Whether it’s podcasts,  music  or audiobooks, humans are streaming audio content now more than ever. Now, thanks to wireless tech company Ampere, the sound doesn’t have to stop when it’s time for a shower. Audiophiles, meet Shower Power, the water-powered showerhead made from recycled plastic. This hydropower speaker syncs with  Bluetooth  to deliver high-quality sound straight to your showerhead, automatically turning on and off with the water. Skip tracks, play or pause with the touch of a button on the showerhead itself, or use the waterproof remote control. The device’s design features a cylindrical shape with a South Wave amplifier to provide excellent listening quality, despite its small size. Related: 8 ways to make your bathroom more eco-friendly If the 360-degree sound wave diffuser isn’t enough, Ampere has also designed a “Droplet” mini Bluetooth speaker that connects to the Shower Power so you can fill your entire  bathroom  with music. The company also has plans to develop a LED light edition of the speaker that syncs music with a light show inside the shower. So how does it work exactly? The patent-pending proprietary hydropower system turns water flow into energy as the water spins an impeller housed inside the device, like a watermill. That system is connected to a small generator that charges an internal  battery , turning the Shower Power on as the water turns on and storing power even after the shower turns off — enough for 20 hours of listening time on a full charge. The device is made to fit onto any showerhead, resulting in an easy one-minute installation and the ability to take it with you while traveling. Energy  isn’t the only thing Shower Power saves. The speaker is made out of a compound using 100% recycled ocean plastic developed specifically for shower use. Each device reuses 15 ocean-bound plastic water bottles. With all these unique features, it’s no surprise that Shower Power was named as an honoree for the 2021 CES Innovation Awards. The suggested retail price is $99, but it is still available for preorder through Indiegogo or Kickstarter at a limited discounted price. + Ampere Images via Ampere

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Water-powered shower head speaker made from recycled plastic wins honors at CES

Nestlé and Microsoft on financing circular innovations

February 22, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Nestlé and Microsoft on financing circular innovations Elsa Wenzel Mon, 02/22/2021 – 01:30 A circular economy looks different within each industry, but its broad vision of healing the harm from the industrial economy’s extractive, polluting original sins is appealing more to a variety of businesses. A small number of influential large companies are creating internal funds to support sustainability goals specific to circular economy initiatives, such as designing out waste and recovering materials from products used internally or sold in the market. The eyes of traditional investors are widening to the landscape as well. It’s an early-stage, sometimes loosely defined space, where many solutions remain unproven, but the long-term payoffs in terms of sustainability and cost reductions could be enormous. That’s the hope of several early movers in circular economy investing, who shared their insights at the GreenBiz 21 virtual event in early February.  Nestlé and Microsoft are among the noteworthy corporations putting considerable investments behind circular programs involving products and services, in service of their sustainability targets and with an eye to spark broader change across their industries. “I would almost challenge people to not think of it as, ‘I have to set up a fund separate from,’ but it’s more of, ‘How do I set up our business to operate differently going forward?’” said Anna Marciano, head of U.S. legal sustainability at Nestlé USA. “If we’re going to make sure that we’re using more recycled content, if we’re going to ensure that we’re going to reduce carbon emissions, then we need to be tracking that. So then our procurement team needs to be monitoring that and they need to be held accountable for all of our ESG commitments.” If you’re going to use more recycled content, you’re going to use alternative materials for packaging, you have to be ready to make the capital investment needed in your infrastructure in your factories. One goal of Closed Loop Partners (CLP), entering its ninth year, is to bring together institutional investors with strategic corporate investors who seek to build a circular economy for their supply chains while helping their sustainability goals. (CLP’s private-equity Closed Loop Leadership Fund , launched in 2018, counts Nestlé, Microsoft and Nuveen among its investors.) “I have heard more in the last few years, probably than ever before, companies talking about investing off their balance sheets to achieve some of these goals, which I think is new vernacular for a lot of companies,” said Bridget Croke, managing director at CLP. Nestlé’s circular recipe Also about one year ago, Nestlé launched its $2 billion sustainability fund , to support companies developing innovative packaging and recycling technologies through 2025. (The company’s first investment was in the Closed Loop Leadership Fund.) The producer of coffee, candy and cocoa also created a nearly $260 million venture fund in support of planet-friendly packaging technologies. Its broader sustainability targets include getting to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.  Nestlé’s circular plans include, by 2025, reducing virgin plastics in packaging by one-third and making all of its packaging reusable and recyclable. But goals aren’t enough without something to back them up, Marciano said. “If you’re going to use more recycled content, you’re going to use alternative materials for packaging, you have to be ready to make the capital investment needed in your infrastructure in your factories,” Marciano said. “And so it becomes really critical for this to be a mindset shift to say, yes, this is absolutely what we need to achieve.” Nestlé knew it had to invest in designing packaging for the future to meet its packaging commitments, so it established its Institute for Packaging Science in 2019 in Switzerland. One pocket-size result is new recyclable paper packaging for Smarties candies, popular in the U.K. “That’s really where the strong collaboration, the collective action of financial investments come into play,” Marciano added. ”So we’re really targeting investments to help transform the recycling infrastructure, so we could advance the circular economy at the end of the day.” Microsoft’s circular formula Similarly, as a corporate citizen, Microsoft aimed to look beyond the four walls of its own operations toward suppliers and customers, and other industries it touches, to enable circular markets to grow, said Brandon Middaugh, director of Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund.  Like Nestlé, Microsoft also looks at translating its goals into circular economy action in terms of designing out waste, reusing and recycling materials and products, and replenishing natural resources that it uses — three pillars reflected by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The investment strategy includes identifying and prioritizing the major areas of waste that apply to Microsoft’s own supply chains and operations, including its devices, cloud infrastructure and campus operations, Middaugh said. One new initiative is to build Microsoft Circular Centers  to further the reuse of computer servers and other hardware from the company’s data centers.  “We really recognized that it was not enough to set the operational goal and to do that work internally. We needed to be partnering externally and reaching outside into the market to try to be an advance team for the innovation in the industry,” she said. Microsoft is one year into its $1 billion, four-year Climate Innovation Fund . Carbon, water, waste and ecosystems are the core focus areas for the software juggernaut, which is aiming to carbon negative by 2030, removing all the carbon it has historically emitted by 2050. If you are not going to invest, what’s the cost of not investing? The fund, a joint finance-sustainability initiative, is one of three balance-sheet ESG funds at Microsoft, in addition to others around affordable housing and racial equity.  Middaugh said it’s useful to have a unified playbook toward a single goal, which may lean on products, operational investments, employee engagement and even advocacy, using partnerships in civil society. For Microsoft, the main points are about being carbon negative, water positive, zero waste — and building a ” planetary computer ” that harnesses artificial intelligence (AI) to recommend resource protection measures, tree by tree. Tangible examples of these include reducing electronic waste and packaging hardware without waste. “Then it’s also about giving the tools for traceability and transparency that we, our customers, need to be able to track circular economy themes,” Middaugh said. Those areas of strategic importance cascade to the investment strategy as well. How to prove circular success? For traditional investors, sustainability with a sound return on investment is key, according to David Haddad, managing director and co-head of impact investing at Nuveen , a subsidiary of TIAA. “We want there to be an economic viability, because our time horizon tends to be relatively shorter than many of these larger companies.”  And traditional institutional investors are challenged by the need to make a certain return within a relatively short time frame, maybe five or 10 years, which may not be enough for a market to mature.  Ways to reduce the risk around investments can include investing in research and innovation; proving that new business models are moving in a certain direction and integrating that into the business; and exploring longer-term contracts, according to Croke. Nestlé’s sustainability fund is already driving results, said Marciano, who is also division general counsel for Nespresso USA and International Premium Waters. “We have access to more recycled plastic already, we’re able to integrate it into our Stouffer’s business, into our Coffee mate business, into our water business,” she said. “So we see it working already. And it’s only been a few months in.” Middaugh noted that Microsoft focuses on metrics around the use of recyclable materials; landfill diversion in terms of solid waste and the construction and demolition waste at its campuses, and an overlapping focus on embodied carbon. “And in terms of how we integrate those with the rest of the decision process. It’s really around assessing the impact, assessing the risk and then looking for that impact and risk-adjusted return,” she said. For Nestlé, measuring circular economy success involves improving recycling rates beyond the company itself by spurring improvements in recycling infrastructure more broadly, encouraging consumers to recycle too. But that’s tricky. The question of measuring social impacts, not just the environmental ones most companies have prioritized, is another matter. Haddad noted that as an impact investor, there’s no cookie-cutter recipe, but Nuveen works closely with each young company to determine relevant metrics, and any failure to be able to report on those alongside financial performance will make it a no-go for funding. Croke agreed that limited tools for tracking certain metrics related to circular goals are difficult for companies or municipalities, but a bonus to working with large tech companies is being able to identify and address data gaps and useful technologies. Partnerships and collaborations are essential How does a sustainability advocate make the business case for investing toward circular, sustainable solutions? What’s the benefit of leveraging the company’s balance sheet or other capital? Early corporate movers may offer useful examples. Croke noted that some companies may find it hard to identify such investment opportunities and run up against limits to the size of deals they can take on. “And so the ability to invest through other funds helps sometimes open up opportunities to invest in things that might be too early-stage or small that need some de-risking,” Croke said. Partnerships with third-party leaders can help when trying to apply lessons to the rest of the business from initiatives around circular servers, recycling and reuse, Middaugh said. She, Marciano and Croke agreed that no organization should try to go it alone when addressing a systemic challenge as large as growing a circular economy. For example, it’s upon Nestlé to share its expertise in sustainable packaging, collaborating with other stakeholders to make sure it’s not introducing harmful materials into products. Such relationships can improve the wheel in multiple areas. And policy advocacy is another spoke of the wheel for Nestlé. Middaugh added that collaborations should involve early-stage innovations and pilots — such as sharing information with other companies exploring advanced materials — as well as later-stage infrastructure buildout. Microsoft is working with suppliers to update its supplier Code of Conduct to reflect its carbon and sustainability goals, also providing the tools to help its partners meet their goals.  The coming transition CLP draws connections across that ecosystem by backing circular efforts by municipalities, recycling facilities and material recovery facilities (MRFs). It has invested, for example, in Amp Robotics , which offers early-stage AI for recycling facilities, and PureCycle Technologies , whose technology turns polypropylene back into virgin-quality material. CLP started an innovation hub to support pre-competitive ideas. Croke agreed that data points around diversion of material and greenhouse gas impacts, to name just a couple, are relatively simple to understand. “What I think is sometimes more interesting, and a little bit harder to measure is the catalytic impact that’s being had, we’re all trying to completely transform a supply chain, the way that the supply chain works from being linear to being circular, and the linear supply chain is quite scaled,” she said. “The economics are very efficient today.” However, there’s going to be a lead-up time to building up the scale for new, circular models. In time, costs will expand for existing linear systems, becoming less attractive to newly affordable circular ones.  “But what we’re finding is that there are definitely specific investment opportunities today that are profitable, that makes sense for the institutional kind of partners make sense for our corporate partners, and hopefully create the levers that unlock, value and scale for the rest of the system,” Croke added. Haddad advocated for companies to recognize private equity firms as a force multiplier. “We can really bring capital to bear and our experience with boards and governance to scale those things,” he said. Marciano insisted that it’s not necessary to invest millions of dollars to get started. Pick up the phone and talk to people, and take other small steps to explore circular possibilities. “If you are not going to invest, what’s the cost of not investing?” she said. “Think of it that way, and really try to inspire others within your organization to take a chance … What’s the worst that could happen? You asked for the money and you’re told no or not yet. But at least you’ve already planted the seed, that you believe that the money is needed and could make a difference.” Pull Quote If you’re going to use more recycled content, you’re going to use alternative materials for packaging, you have to be ready to make the capital investment needed in your infrastructure in your factories. If you are not going to invest, what’s the cost of not investing? Topics Circular Economy Finance & Investing Corporate Strategy GreenBiz 21 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off  Illustration of circular economy in industry. Shutterstock MG Vectors Close Authorship

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Nestlé and Microsoft on financing circular innovations

Nestlé and Microsoft on financing circular innovations

February 22, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Nestlé and Microsoft on financing circular innovations Elsa Wenzel Mon, 02/22/2021 – 01:30 A circular economy looks different within each industry, but its broad vision of healing the harm from the industrial economy’s extractive, polluting original sins is appealing more to a variety of businesses. A small number of influential large companies are creating internal funds to support sustainability goals specific to circular economy initiatives, such as designing out waste and recovering materials from products used internally or sold in the market. The eyes of traditional investors are widening to the landscape as well. It’s an early-stage, sometimes loosely defined space, where many solutions remain unproven, but the long-term payoffs in terms of sustainability and cost reductions could be enormous. That’s the hope of several early movers in circular economy investing, who shared their insights at the GreenBiz 21 virtual event in early February.  Nestlé and Microsoft are among the noteworthy corporations putting considerable investments behind circular programs involving products and services, in service of their sustainability targets and with an eye to spark broader change across their industries. “I would almost challenge people to not think of it as, ‘I have to set up a fund separate from,’ but it’s more of, ‘How do I set up our business to operate differently going forward?’” said Anna Marciano, head of U.S. legal sustainability at Nestlé USA. “If we’re going to make sure that we’re using more recycled content, if we’re going to ensure that we’re going to reduce carbon emissions, then we need to be tracking that. So then our procurement team needs to be monitoring that and they need to be held accountable for all of our ESG commitments.” If you’re going to use more recycled content, you’re going to use alternative materials for packaging, you have to be ready to make the capital investment needed in your infrastructure in your factories. One goal of Closed Loop Partners (CLP), entering its ninth year, is to bring together institutional investors with strategic corporate investors who seek to build a circular economy for their supply chains while helping their sustainability goals. (CLP’s private-equity Closed Loop Leadership Fund , launched in 2018, counts Nestlé, Microsoft and Nuveen among its investors.) “I have heard more in the last few years, probably than ever before, companies talking about investing off their balance sheets to achieve some of these goals, which I think is new vernacular for a lot of companies,” said Bridget Croke, managing director at CLP. Nestlé’s circular recipe Also about one year ago, Nestlé launched its $2 billion sustainability fund , to support companies developing innovative packaging and recycling technologies through 2025. (The company’s first investment was in the Closed Loop Leadership Fund.) The producer of coffee, candy and cocoa also created a nearly $260 million venture fund in support of planet-friendly packaging technologies. Its broader sustainability targets include getting to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.  Nestlé’s circular plans include, by 2025, reducing virgin plastics in packaging by one-third and making all of its packaging reusable and recyclable. But goals aren’t enough without something to back them up, Marciano said. “If you’re going to use more recycled content, you’re going to use alternative materials for packaging, you have to be ready to make the capital investment needed in your infrastructure in your factories,” Marciano said. “And so it becomes really critical for this to be a mindset shift to say, yes, this is absolutely what we need to achieve.” Nestlé knew it had to invest in designing packaging for the future to meet its packaging commitments, so it established its Institute for Packaging Science in 2019 in Switzerland. One pocket-size result is new recyclable paper packaging for Smarties candies, popular in the U.K. “That’s really where the strong collaboration, the collective action of financial investments come into play,” Marciano added. ”So we’re really targeting investments to help transform the recycling infrastructure, so we could advance the circular economy at the end of the day.” Microsoft’s circular formula Similarly, as a corporate citizen, Microsoft aimed to look beyond the four walls of its own operations toward suppliers and customers, and other industries it touches, to enable circular markets to grow, said Brandon Middaugh, director of Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund.  Like Nestlé, Microsoft also looks at translating its goals into circular economy action in terms of designing out waste, reusing and recycling materials and products, and replenishing natural resources that it uses — three pillars reflected by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The investment strategy includes identifying and prioritizing the major areas of waste that apply to Microsoft’s own supply chains and operations, including its devices, cloud infrastructure and campus operations, Middaugh said. One new initiative is to build Microsoft Circular Centers  to further the reuse of computer servers and other hardware from the company’s data centers.  “We really recognized that it was not enough to set the operational goal and to do that work internally. We needed to be partnering externally and reaching outside into the market to try to be an advance team for the innovation in the industry,” she said. Microsoft is one year into its $1 billion, four-year Climate Innovation Fund . Carbon, water, waste and ecosystems are the core focus areas for the software juggernaut, which is aiming to carbon negative by 2030, removing all the carbon it has historically emitted by 2050. If you are not going to invest, what’s the cost of not investing? The fund, a joint finance-sustainability initiative, is one of three balance-sheet ESG funds at Microsoft, in addition to others around affordable housing and racial equity.  Middaugh said it’s useful to have a unified playbook toward a single goal, which may lean on products, operational investments, employee engagement and even advocacy, using partnerships in civil society. For Microsoft, the main points are about being carbon negative, water positive, zero waste — and building a ” planetary computer ” that harnesses artificial intelligence (AI) to recommend resource protection measures, tree by tree. Tangible examples of these include reducing electronic waste and packaging hardware without waste. “Then it’s also about giving the tools for traceability and transparency that we, our customers, need to be able to track circular economy themes,” Middaugh said. Those areas of strategic importance cascade to the investment strategy as well. How to prove circular success? For traditional investors, sustainability with a sound return on investment is key, according to David Haddad, managing director and co-head of impact investing at Nuveen , a subsidiary of TIAA. “We want there to be an economic viability, because our time horizon tends to be relatively shorter than many of these larger companies.”  And traditional institutional investors are challenged by the need to make a certain return within a relatively short time frame, maybe five or 10 years, which may not be enough for a market to mature.  Ways to reduce the risk around investments can include investing in research and innovation; proving that new business models are moving in a certain direction and integrating that into the business; and exploring longer-term contracts, according to Croke. Nestlé’s sustainability fund is already driving results, said Marciano, who is also division general counsel for Nespresso USA and International Premium Waters. “We have access to more recycled plastic already, we’re able to integrate it into our Stouffer’s business, into our Coffee mate business, into our water business,” she said. “So we see it working already. And it’s only been a few months in.” Middaugh noted that Microsoft focuses on metrics around the use of recyclable materials; landfill diversion in terms of solid waste and the construction and demolition waste at its campuses, and an overlapping focus on embodied carbon. “And in terms of how we integrate those with the rest of the decision process. It’s really around assessing the impact, assessing the risk and then looking for that impact and risk-adjusted return,” she said. For Nestlé, measuring circular economy success involves improving recycling rates beyond the company itself by spurring improvements in recycling infrastructure more broadly, encouraging consumers to recycle too. But that’s tricky. The question of measuring social impacts, not just the environmental ones most companies have prioritized, is another matter. Haddad noted that as an impact investor, there’s no cookie-cutter recipe, but Nuveen works closely with each young company to determine relevant metrics, and any failure to be able to report on those alongside financial performance will make it a no-go for funding. Croke agreed that limited tools for tracking certain metrics related to circular goals are difficult for companies or municipalities, but a bonus to working with large tech companies is being able to identify and address data gaps and useful technologies. Partnerships and collaborations are essential How does a sustainability advocate make the business case for investing toward circular, sustainable solutions? What’s the benefit of leveraging the company’s balance sheet or other capital? Early corporate movers may offer useful examples. Croke noted that some companies may find it hard to identify such investment opportunities and run up against limits to the size of deals they can take on. “And so the ability to invest through other funds helps sometimes open up opportunities to invest in things that might be too early-stage or small that need some de-risking,” Croke said. Partnerships with third-party leaders can help when trying to apply lessons to the rest of the business from initiatives around circular servers, recycling and reuse, Middaugh said. She, Marciano and Croke agreed that no organization should try to go it alone when addressing a systemic challenge as large as growing a circular economy. For example, it’s upon Nestlé to share its expertise in sustainable packaging, collaborating with other stakeholders to make sure it’s not introducing harmful materials into products. Such relationships can improve the wheel in multiple areas. And policy advocacy is another spoke of the wheel for Nestlé. Middaugh added that collaborations should involve early-stage innovations and pilots — such as sharing information with other companies exploring advanced materials — as well as later-stage infrastructure buildout. Microsoft is working with suppliers to update its supplier Code of Conduct to reflect its carbon and sustainability goals, also providing the tools to help its partners meet their goals.  The coming transition CLP draws connections across that ecosystem by backing circular efforts by municipalities, recycling facilities and material recovery facilities (MRFs). It has invested, for example, in Amp Robotics , which offers early-stage AI for recycling facilities, and PureCycle Technologies , whose technology turns polypropylene back into virgin-quality material. CLP started an innovation hub to support pre-competitive ideas. Croke agreed that data points around diversion of material and greenhouse gas impacts, to name just a couple, are relatively simple to understand. “What I think is sometimes more interesting, and a little bit harder to measure is the catalytic impact that’s being had, we’re all trying to completely transform a supply chain, the way that the supply chain works from being linear to being circular, and the linear supply chain is quite scaled,” she said. “The economics are very efficient today.” However, there’s going to be a lead-up time to building up the scale for new, circular models. In time, costs will expand for existing linear systems, becoming less attractive to newly affordable circular ones.  “But what we’re finding is that there are definitely specific investment opportunities today that are profitable, that makes sense for the institutional kind of partners make sense for our corporate partners, and hopefully create the levers that unlock, value and scale for the rest of the system,” Croke added. Haddad advocated for companies to recognize private equity firms as a force multiplier. “We can really bring capital to bear and our experience with boards and governance to scale those things,” he said. Marciano insisted that it’s not necessary to invest millions of dollars to get started. Pick up the phone and talk to people, and take other small steps to explore circular possibilities. “If you are not going to invest, what’s the cost of not investing?” she said. “Think of it that way, and really try to inspire others within your organization to take a chance … What’s the worst that could happen? You asked for the money and you’re told no or not yet. But at least you’ve already planted the seed, that you believe that the money is needed and could make a difference.” Pull Quote If you’re going to use more recycled content, you’re going to use alternative materials for packaging, you have to be ready to make the capital investment needed in your infrastructure in your factories. If you are not going to invest, what’s the cost of not investing? Topics Circular Economy Finance & Investing Corporate Strategy GreenBiz 21 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off  Illustration of circular economy in industry. Shutterstock MG Vectors Close Authorship

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Nestlé and Microsoft on financing circular innovations

Lessons from 3 emerging bio-based material technologies

February 19, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Lessons from 3 emerging bio-based material technologies Suz Okie Fri, 02/19/2021 – 00:40 Creating human-made materials from living or biological sources is by no means a new development, yet newly invented bio-based materials are garnering significant hype as of late. From electronic displays made from fish scales to sanitary products made from banana fibers, these inspiring innovations can capture human imagination and evoke an aspirational future free of toxins and litter, amongst other environmental improvements.  But these materials do more than strike awe and inspiration. According to WBCSD’s recent report on the circular bioeconomy, bio-based products will represent a $7.7 trillion opportunity by 2030.  To better understand these headline-grabbing materials, I followed up with three emerging bio-based products from a Circularity 20 panel exploring bio-utilization and the opportunities bio-based materials afford. Here’s what I uncovered. Turning mycelium into packaging that’s ‘compatible with the planet’ Founded in 2007, New York based Ecovative Design leverages the naturally binding properties of mycelium — mushroom’s root structure — in several sustainable materials. The company’s first technology, MycoComposite, precipitated the subsidiary Mushroom Packaging , which I discussed with Ecovative’s business development lead, Meghan Olson. According to WBCSD’s recent report on the circular bioeconomy, bio-based products will represent a $7.7 trillion opportunity by 2030. Offering an alternative to polystyrene, polypropylene and other protective or insulating packaging, Mushroom Packaging infuses locally sourced agricultural byproducts (such as hemp hurd or rice hulls) with mushroom spores. The mixture is filled into custom shaped packaging molds, designed in collaboration with their clients, and the mycelium is allowed to take form. After seven days in its facilities, the grown result is a nontoxic, fully home- and marine-compostable material that protects and insulates a variety of products — everything from candles to industrial servers.  Mushroom Packaging is growing its footprint with a global network of licensees from New Zealand to the United Kingdom and beyond — expanding its customer base to include cosmetics retailer Lush and even interior designers. Meanwhile, Ecovative Design continues to research new applications for its mushroom technology portfolio in New York, expanding beyond packaging into textile alternatives and vegan meat substitutes.  Turning algae into straws that are ‘designed to disappear’ Loliware was founded in 2016 in pursuit of “a radical leap towards [a sustainable packaging] future.” Its interdisciplinary team is based on the east coast of the United States and combines expertise in food technology, seaweed biology, polymer engineering and even fashion to create “not just the material, but also the feeling of the brand.” As co-founder and CEO Sea Briganti notes, “You can’t build what you can’t imagine, so a lot of our work is helping people imagine this new future so we can all build it together.” Sourcing algae from sustainable seaweed farmers that capture carbon as they grow their crop, Loliware is working to manufacture a variety of bio-based polymers. The end products are (technically) edible tableware replacements that naturally break down within six to 10 days in home composting, and even faster in the ocean.  With a B2B strategy, Loliware is building a portfolio of partners — including Marriott, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Pernod Ricard — to distribute its straws. Although the pandemic has disrupted hospitality and demand, Loliware has used the lull to advance its technology and scale manufacturing with a mission to overturn legacy plastics. Turning pineapple leaves into textiles that benefit ‘people and planet’   Following a consulting assignment with the Design Center of the Philippines, self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur” Carmen Hijosa was determined to find (or invent) an alternative to leather and the negative impacts that came with it. By 2013, following several years of studying, research and development, Hijosa had a Ph.D., a new material in tow, and had founded London-based  Ananas Anam . You can’t build what you can’t imagine, so a lot of our work is helping people imagine this new future so we can all build it together. Leveraging pineapple leaves, a waste product of the pineapple industry, Ananas Anam uses a low-energy, low-water, chemical-free process to convert the leaves’ natural fibers into a leather-like material called Piñatex. Producing just 2.69 kilograms of carbon per meter of material, Piñatex touts carbon saving benefits as the equivalent volume of reclaimed pineapple waste would emit about 8 kilograms of carbon if it were left to decompose or burn in the fields.  Piñatex can be found in the footwear, fashion and furnishings of more than 3,000 clients , ranging from small-scale designers to large-scale apparel companies such as H&M and Hugo Boss. As Ananas Anam grows, so do its social and sustainability efforts as it further builds a Philippines-based supply chain and promotes local culture and resilience.  While these companies represent wholly different applications and biological sources, they share several instructive commonalities about the current state of bio-based materials.  They can functionally compete with legacy materials  Touting benefits such as “carbon-negative,” “biodegradable” and/or “sustainably sourced,” it’s hardly surprising that bio-based materials frequently outcompete legacy alternatives on environmental impact. Beyond these sustainability claims, however, eco-friendly or bio-based products are often perceived as less effective than their synthetic counterparts.  That’s why Briganti of Loliware knew her product “had to be a 1:1 replacement” when it came to performance. Loliware, Ecovative Designs and Ananas Anam have all invested heavily in ensuring (and proving) that their products are as functional as the legacy product they might replace.  Mushroom Packaging promises comparable if not superior strength, insulation and hydrophobic properties to polystyrene. Ananas Anam follows stringent technical specifications to meet its clients’ exacting standards, ensuring a durable material that can take wear and tear comfortably for at least five years. And mechanical testing has shown Loliware’s straw durability is on par with its plastics counterpart, while outperforming PLA — Polylactic Acid, a bioplastic — and paper straws. The flexibility of plastic straws is a bit more challenging to replicate, but R&D is under way to do just that.  They can be cost-competitive too, with some caveats Competing on cost, perhaps the most elusive metric, is also in reach according to these companies. As Hijosa notes, Piñatex being sold in rolls can save clients up to 30 percent of the waste associated with the odd shapes, scratches and tears of leather hides, allowing for a comfortably comparable price point.  As Mushroom Packaging is grown (without the need for tooling, molding or post-processing) Olsen shared that prices are competitive with molded polystyrene and molded paper pulp on smaller volume orders (while struggling to match-up when orders surpass 500,000 units.) “Low- to medium-volume sized orders are actually best for our process… [that’s why] we like working with smaller brands and growing with our customers,” Olsen said.  Finally, early 2021 will see the launch of Loliware’s 2.0 polymer, which Briganti said will allow it to compete with paper straw pricing. Although it admittedly can’t match virgin plastic prices, Briganti will be the first to note “the true price of plastic is not reflected in the price of the product — the price to clean it up, the price to our wildlife, our fisheries… our children and the next generation.”  They can offer local sourcing benefits All three companies’ manufacturing happens in close proximity to the farmers from which they source — whether it’s Loliware near its seaweed sources in Connecticut, Ananas Anam setting up fiber processing facilities near pineapple farms in the Philippines, or Mushroom Packaging working to source locally abundant biomass — i.e. mushroom food — within 500 miles of its production facilities.  Beyond local, they also prioritize sustainability. Loliware has sought out “the most sustainable farms in the blue ocean economy” and partnered with Greenwave , a regenerative seaweed farming nonprofit. In the cases of Mushroom Packaging and Piñatex, their biological source is considered an agricultural byproduct or waste. By purchasing it, they not only provide an added revenue stream for their farmers but also ensure the would-be waste isn’t sent to landfills, burnt or left to rot in the field. We’re actually in complete union in caring for people and planet. All stakeholders are important to us, not just shareholders. As a certified B-Corp, Ananas Anam also prioritizes transparency, local employment and training. “We’re actually in complete union in caring for people and planet. All stakeholders are important to us, not just shareholders,” Hijosa said. With that in mind, Ananas Anam partners with small farming cooperatives, ensuring all employees in their supply chain enjoy full contracts and fair wages.  They can help regenerate ecosystems By sourcing carbon-capturing, regenerative seaweed, Loliware is helping to rebuild and regenerate marine ecosystems on the Eastern Shore in the U.S.  Beyond displacing 2 million pounds of legacy foam annually, Mushroom Packaging is not just biodegradable, it’s also “bio-contributing,” adding nutrients to any soil it decomposes in. For this reason Olson says you can “feel good” about throwing it in your backyard.   After saving water and energy in its fiber processing, Ananas Anam uses excess biomass to create compost and add nutrients back to its farmers’ soil. By 2023, it’ll have enough biomass to profitably create local energy with an anaerobic converter.  They have requests Given the size of the legacy industries they compete with, these companies represent a relatively narrow market share. With new supply chains to build, customer habits to overturn and cost caveats that sometimes equate to higher price points, it’s important to note they face significant hurdles to substantively scale. With that in mind, I asked what they’d wish for to advance their companies and the bio-based material industry at large. The three women I spoke with had varying, but valuable requests for what comes next.  Olson would like consumer demand to continue to push out and displace more environmentally destructive, single-use options on the market. Briganti hopes legislation and regulation will take a more active role not just in the market, but also in supporting and funding entrepreneurs and innovators. Finally, Hijosa would like to see more integrity, transparency, and responsibility across the supply chain. Here’s hoping they get their wishes.  Pull Quote According to WBCSD’s recent report on the circular bioeconomy, bio-based products will represent a $7.7 trillion opportunity by 2030. You can’t build what you can’t imagine, so a lot of our work is helping people imagine this new future so we can all build it together. We’re actually in complete union in caring for people and planet. All stakeholders are important to us, not just shareholders. Topics Circular Economy Biomaterials Innovation Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off From left to right: close up images of mushrooms, pineapple and seaweed, sources of bio-based products, which will represent a $7.7 trillion opportunity by 2030.

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How the climate crisis is accelerating food systems reform

February 5, 2021 by  
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How the climate crisis is accelerating food systems reform Jim Giles Fri, 02/05/2021 – 01:00 For more great analysis of sustainable food systems, sign up for Food Weekly , our free email newsletter. I was chatting recently with a veteran strategy wonk about the world’s stuttering progress toward decarbonization. Electricity generation was an early focus. More recently, the transport sector began to move away from fossil fuels. But what about food and ag? Farm-to-fork emissions are on a par with transport and electricity, said the wonk, yet progress has been lamentably slow in comparison. It’s true: Food and ag are late to this party. But I increasingly find myself floored by the rate of progress in these sectors. It’s not uniform by any means — in fact, some food systems players are actively resisting reform. Still, the innovation in technologies, strategies and policies is remarkable. Here are three developments — all just from the past week — that speak to the sometimes dizzying pace of change. The price is (almost) right A couple of years back, I visited a U.S. startup and saw a nugget of chicken meat the team had grown in the lab. I asked if I could try some. No chance, they said. A plateful would cost several hundred dollars. This week, Future Meat Technologies, an Israeli startup, announced it can produce a cultured chicken breast for $7.50 . That’s many multiples more expensive than the chicken in your local supermarket, but it represents an astonishing reduction in price from even just a few years ago. In a 2013 demo, for instance, scientists showed off a lab-grown burger that cost $325,000.  It was an “odd demonstration of one view of the future of food,” the New York Times wrote at the time . Now the idea is no longer odd, and the future is almost here. Future Meat Technologies just raised $27 million in new funding from a roster of big names that includes Tyson Foods, Archer Daniels Midland and S2G Ventures. The company hopes to start pilot production later this year. “We remain very optimistic that alternative protein foods will reach price parity and eventually price superiority with animal proteins over the next few years,” said Zak Weston at the Good Food Institute , a nonprofit that promotes alternative proteins, in response to the announcement. Why does this matter? Animal products are responsible for an outsized proportion of both food system emissions and the land we devote to agriculture. Shifting some production to a lab potentially could lead to big savings on both fronts. Carbon neutral, profit positive Last year, a leading U.S. dairy organization said it would transition the industry to “carbon neutral or better” by 2050. That’s a necessary target, but I found the announcement frustratingly light on specifics. Commitments to change three decades from now don’t mean much without a detailed plan on how to get there. Well, some details were filled in this week — and they’re encouraging. Using data shared by the industry, the Markets Institute at the World Wildlife Fund looked at the potential impact of emission-reductions options available to dairy farmers today, including feed additives that reduce methane-filled bovine burps and the use of digester technology to produce natural gas from manure . Large dairies, concluded WWF , could reach net-zero emissions within five years and generate a return of almost $2 million per farm in the process. That’s remarkable potential for an industry that’s responsible for around 2 percent of U.S. emissions. It’s not going to happen without government help, however. Many dairy operators can’t afford the upfront costs of digesters and can’t easily access renewable subsidies for the natural gas the equipment produces. That’s something the new U.S. administration should look at, which brings us to the week’s third development… Hit the ground running Rewind to before the presidential primaries. Back then, few environmental advocates would have chosen Joe Biden for president or Tom Vilsack, who led the Department of Agriculture under Barack Obama, as his ag secretary. Neither were deemed hawkish enough on climate. It’s true that Biden’s record on climate is muted. One of his trademarks as a politician, however, is his ability to sense the mood of his party. And, rIght now, many Democrats are demanding radical climate action. That’s why Biden’s executive order blitz contains several measures that focus on climate, including one that directs Vilsack to begin consultations on how to spread “climate-smart agricultural practices that produce verifiable carbon reductions and sequestrations.” The results of this process could well be this year’s biggest story in sustainable food. As expected, Vilsack received bipartisan support at his confirmation hearing this week. By some analyses , he has $30 billion at his discretion. That’s more than enough to dramatically accelerate the take-up of regenerative agriculture and, if the practices work as hoped, to begin sequestering carbon in U.S. farmland. I hope that gives a sense of what’s happening in food systems right now. The sector may have been slower than others to respond to climate, but there’s no doubt that things are moving. Pull Quote We remain very optimistic that alternative protein foods will reach price parity and eventually price superiority with animal proteins over the next few years. Topics Food Systems Climate Change Innovation Featured Column Foodstuff Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Future Meat Technologies, an Israeli startup, can now produce a cultured chicken breast for $7.50 . Photo courtesy of Future Meat

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Hoefling House achieves near net-zero status

February 4, 2021 by  
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Located on a main street in Boulder, Colorado , Hoefling House flaunts craftsmanship while disguising a nearly net-zero existence. While appearing massive to the street-side visitor, the home includes meticulous attention to detail that compresses a lot into 3,100 square feet. Built in collaboration between Rodwin Architecture and Skycastle Construction, the project’s goal was to compose a “clean, bold, and original modern design.” Furthermore, the client requested the highest levels of sustainability. The house earned a LEED Platinum certification and a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) of 14 (scale of 0 to 150), ranking exceedingly high for  energy efficiency  and green construction. Hoefling House delivers this without sacrificing aesthetics or function.  Related: A lakeside, prefab home in Quebec aims for LEED Gold Rodwin and Skycastle obtained these accolades (along with the clients’ praise) by using a combination of  passive solar design , a 10kWh solar PV array tucked onto the roof, a ground source heat pump and boiler, radiant flooring with high thermal mass, foam insulation, Energy Star “tuned” windows, all LED lights, Energy Star appliances, EPA Watersense plumbing fixtures, and a heat recovery ventilator. To ensure the team met marks along the way, a LEED Manager and engineers consulted on the project.  The welcoming and functional exterior uses board-form concrete, stucco and clear Douglas fir, creating a “distinctly Colorado” style. Meanwhile, warm modernism defines the home’s  interior design . To achieve this vibe, co-project managers and designers Jocelyn Parlapiano and Cecelia Daniels served up a thoughtful color and material palette and all finishes. Design elements range from radiant heated Travertine tiles to the antique bureau in the entrance. Other features include a live roof garden located on a second-floor balcony and an acoustically tuned concert room inside. Nature was a central element for both the interior and exterior design plans. At Parlapiano’s suggestion, the team decided to take advantage of passive  solar energy  by rotating the structure. This allowed the windows to face south, not only providing sunlight in the winter but roofline protection in the summer. This orientation also allows the clients to take in “southwestern views of the Flatirons, sky, and several towering specimen Ponderosa Pines on the property, along with plenty of natural light.” Features throughout blur the line between indoor and outdoor spaces, making use of massive windows and sliding doors that open up to create a massive open-air lounge area. The surrounding area is equally equipped for outdoor living with a built-in BBQ grill, integrated planters, gas fire pit, dining table, raised-bed veggie garden  and fruit tree orchard.  Embracing the elements of sustainability, innovation and function, Hoefling House is, as the architects state, “as smart and efficient as it is modern and chic.” + Rodwin Architecture a nd Skycastle Construction Via Modern Architecture + Design Society Images via Modern Architecture + Design Society 

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The year ahead for water: The Roaring ’20s and creative destruction

January 7, 2021 by  
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The year ahead for water: The Roaring ’20s and creative destruction Will Sarni Thu, 01/07/2021 – 01:00 A recent issue of the Economist featured an article titled ” The Plague Year: The Year When Everything Changed ” (subscription required). Few will be surprised by this title. However, aside from the COVID-19 reflections, the article provides insights about lessons learned from several events from the early part of the last century. The article explains, “The horrors of the first world war and the ‘Spanish Flu’ were followed by the Roaring Twenties, which can be characterized by risk-taking social, industrial and artistic novelty.” In the U.S., Warren Harding built his 2020 campaign around “normalcy.” What unfolded was not a return to normal. According to the Economist, the survivors of the Spanish Flu and the first world war left survivors with “an appetite to live the 1920s at speed.” While making predictions for 2021 would be a fool’s errand, I am willing to place a bet that our view of water, including the more traditional view of the water sector — think utilities, solutions providers, NGOs — will not return to normal. And, frankly, we shouldn’t go back. The water sector from a technology, business model and funding perspective will be transformed, driven by lessons learned from the pandemic but also due to the natural rhythm of “creative destruction.” 2021 and creative destruction I believe this is the year where creative destruction will transform the water sector and our view of water. In the early 20th century, economist Joseph Schumpeter described the dynamic pattern in which innovative entrepreneurs unseat established firms through a process he called “creative destruction.” According to Schumpeter, and discussed in detail in ” The Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction ,” the entrepreneur not only creates invention but also creates competition from a new commodity, new technology, new source of supply and a new type of organization. The entrepreneur creates competition, “which commands a decisive cost or quality advantage and which strikes not at the margins of the profits and the outputs of the existing firms but at their foundations and their very lives.” This innovation propels the economy with “gales of creative destruction,” which “incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one.” Schumpeter’s view of creative destruction was applied to the emerging trend of sustainability in 1999 by Stuart L. Hart and Mark B. Milstein in their article, ” Global Sustainability and the Creative Destruction of Industries.” This is the article that got me curious about the cycles of creative destruction and its relevance to the water sector. For me, the key point from Hart and Milstein is that with technological innovation there is a dramatic transformation in institutions and society. The technology innovation — and, in turn transformation in institutions and in society — create profound challenges to incumbent businesses. Historically, these incumbents (the installed base) “have not been successful in building the capabilities needed to secure a position in the new competitive landscape.” One additional point about disruption, a term used frequently without distinction from innovation. Disruptive innovation “describes a process whereby a smaller company with fewer resources is able to successfully challenge the incumbent business.” Innovative companies disrupt incumbents by successfully gaining a foothold by delivering functionality frequently at a lower price while incumbents chase higher profitability in more demanding segments and tend not to respond effectively.   Advancing the water sector with disruptive innovation What does creative destruction and disruptive innovation mean for the water sector? I believe it will, in general, be the democratization of water. It will be an “end run” around the public sector, infrastructure and traditional financing of innovations to deliver universal and equitable access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene. The creative destruction of water will include real-time and actionable information on water quantity and quality and increased access to capital to scale innovative solutions. A few examples of disruptive innovations we might anticipate for 2021 and this decade include: Digital technologies such as earth observation systems (satellite data analytics) for real-time water quality and quantity evaluations for watersheds, source water and asset management; real-time water quality monitoring at the tap; and artificial intelligence, inexpensive sensors and virtual reality/augmented reality applications to improve the management of utility and industrial assets and resource use Innovative business models and financing such as water as a service for outsourcing water conservation and treatment; or crowdfunding startups, projects and programs to supplement or serve as an alternative to traditional sources of investment capital Democratizing access to safe drinking water such as air moisture capture Decentralizing water treatment and reuse systems at the residential and community scale The water sector is poised to undergo a “gale of creative destruction” to a large degree by the pandemic. The accelerated transition to using digital technologies is also an enabling tool, in addition to providing readily accessible actionable information to the general population. I believe we are now entering the Roaring ’20s for water. Topics Water Efficiency & Conservation Innovation Featured Column Liquid Assets 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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The year ahead for water: The Roaring ’20s and creative destruction

What I learned about water in 2020

December 30, 2020 by  
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What I learned about water in 2020 Will Sarni Wed, 12/30/2020 – 01:30 Last year around this time, I focused on digital technology solutions for water with this essay, ” 2019: The Year Analog Solutions Died .” I stand by this perspective, as the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated interest and adoption of digital technologies across the water value chain. However, I wanted to share six new learnings from this pandemic year related to digital transformation along with other observations about the topic of water.   1. Digital transformation is about people: The digital transformation of water was well underway pre-pandemic and accelerated quickly during the past nine months. What was once anticipated to be a multiyear transformation occurred rapidly, with both the utility and industrial sectors scrambling to identify digital technologies and integrate them into their operations to adjust to remote workforces. Two aspects of the digital transformation took on more prominence: the critical importance of the workforce and the role of earth observation science (EOS) technologies. First, the critical importance of people in digital transformation cannot be underestimated. Transformation will stall or fail if there is no alignment between business strategy and culture, and there is a lack of investment in the workforce. The insights on digital transformation from 2019 papers and research came to the forefront (” IWA Digital Transformation ” and ” The Technology Fallacy “). The key takeaways are that successful investments in digital water technologies require a strategy, commitment by leadership, investment in the workforce and establishing and nurturing a culture of learning. The most important from my perspective is creating a culture of learning — it will contribute to attracting and retaining talent. We also witnessed the emergence of EOS technologies to provide real-time water quality, ecosystem health and flood prediction analytics from satellite data acquisition and analytics companies (such as Gybe , 52 Impact and Cloud to Street ). Digital technologies are connecting across the value chain of utilities and industries for a more real-time view of water quality, quantitative evaluations of ecosystems and flood prediction. 2. We need a “skunkworks” strategy for innovation: Innovation in water technology and business models is slow for several reasons. The competition is the status quo (the installed base). In general, organizations “try” to innovate from within, and water is a public health issue, so utilities can’t take risks. We don’t have the luxury of time to wait for innovative technologies and business models to scale. At this rate, we won’t achieve United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6, which sets the goal of clean water and sanitation for all. What we need is a skunkworks mindset and strategy. If other industry sectors such as the aircraft and aerospace sectors can innovate quickly and at scale, so can the water sector. For those unfamiliar with the term, the relevant characteristics of a skunkworks project are outlined as a concentration of a few good people solving problems far in advance, at a fraction of the cost of other groups by applying the simple, most straightforward methods possible to develop new projects (paraphrased from Kelly Johnson ). 3. Water is not (just) the water industry: The issues and opportunities related to water are not just about the water industry. We need a more expansive view of the role of water in society and our environment. For example, water has economic, business, social and spiritual dimensions. The water industry sector mostly focuses on economic and business dimensions and rarely, if at all, on the social and spiritual dimensions. I would reframe the narrative to focus on humanity’s relationship with water (especially health and wellness, and natural ecosystems). Water doesn’t come from the tap or bottled water, so let’s protect watersheds and ecosystems. This message needs to be communicated simply and clearly to those outside the water sector. 4. Diversity is critical to solving wicked water problems: Society would benefit from greater diversity in solving water challenges as it is doubtful solutions exclusively will come from the usual suspects (myself included). We need vastly more diversity in age, gender, race, geography and from industry outsiders. Increasing diversity will not happen organically; we need to be proactive and work at it or we are destined to bring the same ideas to the party. As Ben Dukes, a friend and colleague, often says, “What got you here won’t get you there.” 5. Innovation in investing in water remains a challenge: Water technology entrepreneurs and startups continue to be challenged by traditional venture capital and private equity investment models. Water is not cleantech and requires more patient capital, which is in short supply. However, there are encouraging signs as initiatives such as Anheuser-Busch InBev’s 100+ Accelerator and Microsoft’s $1 billion Climate Innovation Fund invest in innovative water and sustainability solutions. The increased interest during 2020 in environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance has also focused more on innovative water solutions. 6. Water is not climate: The statement “If climate is the shark, water is the teeth” is misleading and not helpful. This year, climate change continued to gain traction within the private sector in the form of new commitments and investments from companies such as Amazon, Google and Nestle, among many others. This is certainly to be applauded. However, a cautionary word: Solving climate change will not solve the fundamental issues with water scarcity, poor quality and lack of access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene. The potential and likely failure to achieve SDG 6 can be attributed to public policy failures sch as pricing, allocations and lack of funding. We can solve climate change and water and need to focus on both. There is no shortage of lessons learned from 2020. While it was a profoundly challenging year, we do have an opportunity to do better by critically examining what needs to change in the years ahead. This past year has framed my view of what the future may hold for 2021 as we build back better . I will share my thoughts on 2021 in my next Liquid Assets column. Topics Water Efficiency & Conservation Innovation Corporate Strategy Featured Column Liquid Assets Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo courtesy of Shutterstock/ Chepko Danil Vitalevich

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ZHA unveils a low-carbon Shenzhen Science and Technology Museum

December 21, 2020 by  
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Zaha Hadid Architects has unveiled renders for the future Shenzhen Science & Technology Museum, an organically inspired, U-shaped museum that will not only raise Shenzhen’s reputation as a global leader in innovation and technology but also serve as a sustainable benchmark for civic architecture in the southern Chinese city. Located within Guangming Science City in northwestern Shenzhen, the new museum will be connected with universities, schools and innovation centers across China to become an important center for youth education. Currently under construction, the low-carbon and energy-efficient museum is expected to achieve the highest Three-Star rating of China’s Green Building Evaluation Standard.  Conceived as a “pearl” in the Guangzhou- Shenzhen Science Technology Innovation Corridor, the Shenzhen Science & Technology Museum will span an area of approximately 125,000 square meters. The museum will offer a series of interconnecting public spaces, galleries and educational facilities clustered around an atrium courtyard at the heart of the building. Related: Green-roofed theater in Shenzhen raises the bar for civic architecture “Incorporating maximum adaptability as a basic design principle, the geometries, proportions and spatial experience of each gallery will offer visitors a rich and varied experience each time they visit,” ZHA explained. “While some galleries can remain familiar and unchanged, others will change according to the type of exhibition showing at the time.” The museum’s fluid lines and curvaceous form is informed by its program and open circulation as well as its immediate surroundings. The western end, for instance, is designed to frame the adjacent Guangming Park. The architects have also crafted the building’s form and orientation in response to results from computer modeling and wind tunnel testing for optimal thermal performance, natural lighting, wind levels and air quality. The energy-efficient museum will be fortified with high-performance thermal insulation along with high-efficiency glazing, HVAC, lighting and smart building management systems. The Shenzhen Science & Technology Museum is slated for completion in late 2023. + Zaha Hadid Architects Images via Brick, Slashcube and ZHA

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3 circular economy trends that defined 2020

December 21, 2020 by  
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3 circular economy trends that defined 2020 Lauren Phipps Mon, 12/21/2020 – 00:15 As the year comes to a (welcome) close, it’s worth taking a moment to consider how the circular economy concept has emerged and evolved during this very particular year. Here are three trends that defined the circular economy in 2020, and what they might mean for the year to come.  1. Reuse is on the rise. Despite some setbacks posed by the pandemic (including misinformation about the safety of reusables peddled by industry lobbying groups), the transition from single-use to reusable packaging is building real momentum. With such proof points as Loop’s continued growth and recent $25 million Series A , Algramo’s New York expansion and the launch of the Beyond the Bag initiative, to name a few, it’s clear that reuse is taking hold at scale.  In 2021, I’ll be watching CPG and food and beverage companies, which have been scrutinized for one-off pilots and an overall failure to move quickly enough towards commitments to make all packaging recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025. If brands and retailers intend to fulfill their public commitments, we’ll need to see real investment in reuse platforms and systems in the year ahead.  2. Metrics begin to materialize. This year saw the launch of new tools and standards to calculate and track the circular nature of products, business and systems. Notably, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development released the Circular Transition Indicators and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation launched the Circulytics tool; GRI established a new standard on waste ; and the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute released the fourth version of its product standard . The bright and shiny narrative of the circular economy’s promise will lose its luster without verified data and material evidence to show that circular is indeed better, and these tools are a step in the right direction.  Next year, I expect to see an emphasis on reporting and consistency of data behind various claims, as well as an effort to fold circular economy metrics into existing sustainability and ESG frameworks. I also will be looking for more actionable datasets and analysis on the link between climate change and the circular economy, and opportunities to mitigate carbon emissions using circular economy strategies.  3. It’s (still) all about plastic. Plastic continues to be the star of the show when it comes to the global conversation about materials management and circular economy solutions. The topic is top of mind for most of us given the increased demand for single-use everything amid the pandemic, which has led to a surge in plastic waste entering into waterways and oceans. But this year also offered a collective leveling-up of our data-backed knowledge and understanding about the flows and intervention points that could stem the tide on plastic pollution.  While source reduction continues to be the No. 1 solution to the global plastic waste crisis, many companies continue to solely address end-of-life management — notably in chemical recycling technologies for plastics packaging and synthetic textiles .  2021 is sure to bring continued tension between the problem of plastic waste and the problem of plastic production and use. I’ll be keeping my eye on the policy landscape and the balance between upstream action and accountability alongside downstream solutions.   This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, Circular Weekly, running Fridays. Subscribe here . Topics Circular Economy Reuse Plastic Featured Column In the Loop 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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