What does ‘climate risk’ actually mean?

August 31, 2020 by  
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What does ‘climate risk’ actually mean? Joel Makower Mon, 08/31/2020 – 02:11 If you stick around the world of sustainable business long enough, you’re sure to see an immutable march of memes — terms that rise up and become popularized, often without agreed-upon definitions. Then, over time, they become used, and overused, to the point where they lose much of their meaning. Or, at least, they can mean whatever you want them to mean. Some of those memes get traction — “zero waste” and “net zero” are two relatively recent examples that are having their moment. Others come and go — “responsibly sourced” anyone? Now comes “climate risk,” a term that has been kicking around for years — I first wrote about it back in 2013 — but that has risen to a point where major financial and governmental institutions around the world are baking it into their policies and programs. Last week, for example, the UK government proposed mandatory climate risk-related governance by large pension plans, to be disclosed in line with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures , or TCFD. The proposed scheme requires pension funds to analyze the implications of a range of temperature scenarios on their holdings and “to prompt strategic thinking about climate risks and opportunities.” The UK move is part of a larger trend taking place in Europe, according to a report issued last week by Mercer, the actuarial and benefits consulting arm of Marsh & McLennan Companies. It found that European pension funds’ awareness of, and desire for, action on climate change-related investment risk has surged, with 54 percent of those surveyed now actively considering the impact of such risks in their investment allocations, compared to just 14 percent in 2019. It’s no longer just about “What business is doing to the climate.” It’s also about “What the climate is doing to business.” Why now? There’s no single precipitating event. Rather, the surge of attention to companies’ climate-risk profile appears to be the tipping point of a yearslong pursuit to flip the script on the conversation about business and climate change. That is, it’s no longer just about “What business is doing to the climate.” It’s also about “What the climate is doing to business.” That understanding is heating up in lockstep with the planet itself. But it’s not always what it seems. So, what does “climate risk” actually mean? Minimize or manage? First, it’s important to understand that “risk” means different things in business than it does in our personal lives. For most individuals, the word is synonymous with “danger” — the risk that we might be infected with coronavirus, for example, or that we could fall into financial distress because of a job loss or some other event. Or that something we don’t want others to know gets found out. Risk, in that context, is something to be minimized or avoided altogether. Not so in business. Risk is part of the everyday landscape, referring to things that could negatively impact a company’s financial performance or even cause it to fail. In finance, risk refers to the degree of uncertainty inherent in an investment decision. In general, the higher the risk, the greater returns sought by investors, who want compensation for taking such risks. Therefore, in business, risks are not something to be avoided but something to be managed: You want to measure, assess and track them, not necessarily avoid or eliminate them. Without taking risks, companies would never grow or, in many cases, prosper. Within the TCFD framework, climate risk is seen through the eyes of investors and financial institutions — that is, how will their loans and investments fare in a world of climate-related disruptions? The framework’s stated goal is “to price risk to support informed, efficient capital-allocation decisions.” Climate change poses significant financial challenges, and the risk-return profile of companies exposed to climate-related risks may change significantly as more companies are impacted by climate change, climate policy and new technologies. A 2015 study by The Economist Intelligence Unit estimated that as much as $43 trillion of manageable assets may be at risk globally between now and the end of the century. So, the TCFD framework is about protecting those assets, and the companies that own them. It’s strictly about disclosure to protect investors and lenders, not reducing impacts to protect people and the planet. According to the TCFD: [P]ublication of climate-related financial information in mainstream annual financial filings will help ensure that appropriate controls govern the production and disclosure of the required information. More specifically, the task force expects the governance processes for these disclosures would be similar to those used for existing public financial disclosures and would likely involve review by the chief financial officer and audit committee, as appropriate. Nothing there about companies actually lowering their emissions or otherwise investing in climate solutions, only about disclosing the potential risks to a company’s finances from the growing climate crisis. Thus, a company reporting on climate risk under the TCFD protocol isn’t necessarily committing to fight climate change. Rather, it is declaring, “We understand the potential impacts of climate change on our business and have made our financial projections with that in mind.” Business as usual? In theory, companies might make different business decisions to avoid those risks. But not necessarily: They could decide to incorporate those risks into investment or operational decisions in order to maintain business as usual. So long as a company discloses those risks, investors may be satisfied. So, an oil and gas concern such as Chevron or the South African mining company Gold Fields can report its climate risks using the TCFD framework without necessarily changing its operations or emissions one bit. As Chevron Chairman and CEO Michael K. Wirth wrote in the introduction to his company’s TCFD disclosure : This report demonstrates that we proactively consider climate change risks and opportunities in our business decisions. We have the experience, processes and governance in place to manage these risks and opportunities, and we are equipped to deliver industry-leading results and superior stockholder value in any business environment. No gauzy verbiage there about leaving the world a better place. It’s drilling and refining as usual — but with fuller disclosure. The climate-risk bandwagon has the potential to effect change. As I noted recently , financial institutions are beginning to link borrowers’ sustainability performance to the cost of loans — better performers get lower rates — which could spur companies to change. As climate impacts worsen and the risks grow, investors and lenders may well press companies to more aggressively reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with their operations and value chain. So, the question to ask about disclosing climate risk is what difference it will actually make — and what it will take for companies to go beyond simply managing risk to actually reducing their contributions to the climate crisis. How many “once-in-a-century” wildfires, droughts, hurricanes or floods will it take before companies recognize that the stability of their facilities, supply chains, operations, employees and customers is being jeopardized? Or that the infrastructure they rely on — roads, bridges, tunnels, railways, airports, electric grids, water works, broadband fiber — cannot be taken for granted in a climate-changing world? Disclosure is good: Sunlight is the best disinfectant, as the saying goes. But without actually addressing what’s causing the infection in the first place, the patient’s prognosis may be doomed. I invite you to  follow me on Twitter , subscribe to my Monday morning newsletter,  GreenBuzz , and listen to  GreenBiz 350 , my weekly podcast, co-hosted with Heather Clancy. Pull Quote It’s no longer just about “What business is doing to the climate.” It’s also about “What the climate is doing to business.” Topics Risk & Resilience Climate Change ESG GreenFin Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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Reusable packaging provides untapped payoffs for business

August 13, 2020 by  
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Reusable packaging provides untapped payoffs for business Joana Kleine Jäger Thu, 08/13/2020 – 01:45 Remember the time when milk was delivered to your door in reusable glass bottles? If not, you were probably born during the plastics-era, which began about 50 years ago. Until the 1980s, glass or cotton bags were the go-to packaging materials for many products, such as milk and flour. Today, plastic has taken over. In 2018, 40 percent of the 360 million tonnes of plastics produced globally were converted to packaging. Prized for its durability and ultimate convenience, the plastic addiction from business to consumer is proving hard to shift. But the increasing presence of post-consumer plastic littering the natural environment is a sobering reminder of the extent of damage our love affair with plastic has delivered. Ultimately, we cannot fix this with recycling alone. Alternative materials and models such as bio-based packaging and reuse offer a prime opportunity to extend the lifetime of valuable materials and deliver financial savings to businesses. The case for reusable packaging If we succeed in building and scaling reuse systems, they will outperform single-use systems. This not only benefits the environment but also businesses. About 95 percent of the value of plastic packaging material ($83 to $124 billion annually) is lost to the economy after a very short first-use cycle. Most of it ends up in our environment. The retailer also needs to invest in marketing the benefits and exciting consumers about the opportunity to change to a circular packaging model. In contrast, research and on-the ground experiences with reusable packaging by Searious Business, a solution provider for zero plastic waste practices, show yearly financial savings of up to 30 percent compared to throw-away versions. Thus, reusable packaging is not only key to achieving a circular economy and solving the plastic pollution problem, but also equally presents untapped business potential. To grasp this potential, business must explore collaborations and capacity sharing to achieve wide-scale success and profit. Benefits of teaming up Only when key stakeholders align their efforts can the industry change towards a paradigm of reuse. Replacing single-use with reusable packaging may seem straightforward — technically speaking. Most reuse concepts, such as “bring your own” are rather simple. However, our current packaging system is geared toward single-use packaging. Take the food sector, for example. In today’s fast-paced world, ready-made meals are the preferred option for many consumers. Producers parcel ready-made food in small portions in thoughtfully designed packaging, which ends up in the bin soon after consumption. Reusable packaging provides an environmentally friendlier, financially viable alternative: Together with three major retailers, Searious Business has identified opportunities to reduce carbon footprint by 43 tonnes per year through reusable food containers. Financial pay-offs have appeared within eight months. Only when key stakeholders align their efforts can the industry change towards a paradigm of reuse. However, these results cannot be achieved alone. They require close collaboration with waste management players, cleaning facilities and logistics companies. Where the packaging was previously disposed of, the retailer needs to arrange collection points, ensure timely collection by the cleaners and likewise timely return so that the packing can be reused. The retailer also needs to invest in marketing the benefits and exciting consumers about the opportunity to change to a circular packaging model, so that the system is well used and adequate scale can be realized to make a successful change. Numerous stakeholders need to engage in coordinated actions to reduce plastic waste and gain financial benefit for all parties involved. For reuse platforms to be financially viable and make an impact, scale up through collaboration and capacity sharing is inevitable. How to get started As the above example demonstrates, collaborations are crucial for reuse endeavors. But how can a business get started? Circle Economy’s guide for collaborations in a circular economy directs businesses through the process of identifying attractive partners and establishing successful partnerships. The impact organization found that in scoping a potential new collaboration, businesses first need to understand the local context, market and material flows. This includes relevant legislation, consumption habits, the distance to sourcing and the existing reuse infrastructure, which can vastly differ between locations. Choosing the right partner to implement reuse packaging systems further depends on the company vision. Once a business has a clear vision for the future, it needs to assess which capabilities and resources are needed to reach this vision and what can be filled internally. Gaps identified can be filled by partners. Crucial roles a partner can take Based on the gaps identified, businesses can determine which type of collaboration they need to make the circular transition happen. To illustrate this process, we identify three major roles that a reusable packaging partner can take on, as well as five significant characteristics. 1. When McDonald’s and Burger King joined food delivery platform Deliveroo, they did not only want to meet evolving consumer demands for mobile ordering. They also recognized the benefits of serving as each other’s impact extenders. When competitors collaborate to reach common goals, they can learn together, overcome hurdles, increase volume and scale, share investments or establish standardization of packaging. Such “coopetition” is often pooled under reuse platforms such as Deliveroo. 2. Businesses looking to introduce reusable packaging also can partner with companies that serve as promoters, and help to make reusable packaging accepted and ordinary (again) — or even desirable — through marketing campaigns. Social enterprise Dopper, known for its reusable water bottles, has collaborated with the Amsterdam-based Van Gogh museum to create a Special Edition of their bottles with prints of the famous painter’s works. 3. Returnable packaging schemes such as BarePack meal containers in Singapore and RePack packages in Europe work much in the same way that library books are borrowed, enjoyed and returned. With both consumers and businesses recognizing their environmental and financial benefits, these schemes are gaining market share and increasingly becoming part of our daily lives. Here, we see how businesses tapping into the potential of product-service-systems and product-life-extension business models can serve as use-phase-supporters or businesses seeking to introduce reusable packaging. As reuse system operators, BarePack and RePack support businesses with elements such as (reverse) logistics, cleaning and refilling. What makes a winning partner Deciphering the gaps that your business needs filled is the first step, but the nitty-gritty is crucial too: certain characteristics that can amplify your partnership also should be on your radar. Partnering companies should aim to find a strategic fit: your vision on circularity aligns and your market, context and geographical fit. While knowledge exchange collaborations might operate globally, geographical proximity is needed to ensure resource efficiency and profitability when implementing reusable packaging on the ground. Reusable packaging is a playground for innovation, so creativity is a desirable characteristic: out-of-the-box thinking and novel business models. Open communication and collaborative learning are also important as they can enable joint progress towards successful reuse models and uncertainties can be reduced. Partners should also show alignment with the mission. Being on the same page in terms of sharing interests and benefits will result in flexibility. Finally, circular economy collaborations are characterized by mutual dependence and long-term goals. Therefore, a partner should show commitment in terms of wanting the change and investing resources. Pull Quote The retailer also needs to invest in marketing the benefits and exciting consumers about the opportunity to change to a circular packaging model. Only when key stakeholders align their efforts can the industry change towards a paradigm of reuse. Choosing the right partner to implement reuse packaging systems further depends on the company vision. Contributors Willemijn Peeters Topics Design & Packaging Circular Economy Plastic Circle Economy Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Reusable packaging comes in many forms. Shutterstock Oleksandra Naumenko Close Authorship

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The perfect pair? Custom-fit jeans startup challenges fast fashion mindset

August 3, 2020 by  
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The perfect pair? Custom-fit jeans startup challenges fast fashion mindset Lauren Phipps Mon, 08/03/2020 – 02:12 Canceled orders, excess stock, disrupted supply chains: The pandemic has laid bare some fundamental challenges with the way our clothes are designed, ordered, manufactured and sold — or landfilled, incinerated or sold on secondary markets. These impacts have been compounded by COVID-19, but the inefficient and resource-intensive apparel industry needed a redesign well before the pandemic.  One company working to do things differently is San Francisco-based startup unspun . Founded in 2017, unspun is a denim company that specializes in customized, automated and on-demand manufacturing, designing out inventory altogether. Rather than walking into a shop full of jeans in set cuts and sizes, customers instead get a 3D scan of their body — at home using a phone app and the iPhone’s built-in infrared camera or in-person at an unspun facility, currently only in San Francisco or Hong Kong. The scan is used to manufacture a customized, bespoke pair of jeans within a couple of weeks.  It’s not cheap — a pair of custom-fitted unspun jeans will set you back $200 — but like all disruptive technologies it has the potential to become more affordable over time. And while the denim might be pricey, the products’ physical quality and emotional durability encourage customers to keep their garments for longer, a tenet of circularity. Plus, if you factor in the externalized environmental cost of denim production — which unspun does — one could argue they’re a bargain (although that’s not a case I care to make during a recession).  I caught up with unspun co-founder Beth Esponnette this week to talk about her company’s role in designing a better approach to the fashion industry. The following conversation has been edited for length and clarity.   Lauren Phipps: What problem is unspun solving? Beth Esponnette: The fashion industry has been pushed to the point of efficiency. It’s stuck. There’s a huge mismatch between what the apparel industry makes and what people buy at the end of the day. Especially now with COVID, there’s a huge problem with excess inventory. Margins are so important, and there’s not a lot of R&D budget — it’s not even 1 percent of [apparel] companies’ budgets that go to R&D — and big brands are risk-averse. They’re used to doing things the same way and incrementally improving them, but using a very siloed supply chain.  We produce clothing after someone’s purchased it — build it on-demand versus waiting for someone to show up.  We don’t have sizes, which is more inclusive. We don’t have inventory, which decreases waste and emissions. Phipps: What kind of technology do you use to make custom garments for every customer? Esponnette : There are two main pieces of tech that we’ve been focused on: the software that turns body scans into perfect fitting patterns, and hardware that takes yarn and starts to build the three-dimensional product. Our software takes in body scan information — and not just measurements. It requires the full point cloud of someone’s body: 30,000 to 100,000 points in space, depending on the scan quality. What’s great is that you don’t lose all of the information when taking measurements around someone’s body. We build the pattern all digitally, and before we do anything physical with it, we go back and fit it on our digital avatar a few times before it’s perfect. It’s almost like we’re getting to do multiple fittings with them, and that gives us a huge advantage. It’s automated, so once you’ve written the software it doesn’t cost anything for the program to run it and create a pattern. We’ve gotten rid of the hours of work that a tailor would be spending building a pattern. The idea is that there’s no sewing machine or manual labor. We’re also experimenting with weaving in three dimensions and building the whole [garment] from yarn. The fit is so difficult on woven products, so if you can make something to someone’s actual dimensions and it’s a woven, then you’ve really tackled that big problem. We started with the hardware in 2017 and still haven’t commercialized on it — but hopefully we will in the next six months. Phipps: You’re asking a lot for people to change the way they purchase. How do you get consumers to think differently about the way they buy clothes? Esponnette: I’m excited where consumer mindsets are going. They’re starting to slow down and think about their impact in the world. The average is 84 garments purchased per year per American; it’s insane that we buy more than one product per week. I think consumers will be willing to spend a bigger chunk of their income on fewer products that will last longer and that they’re excited about. We’re starting to see that change. When we talk to customers, it starts with the product: fit, options, etc. If you build something after they purchase it, it can be perfect for them. It can be everything they want and customized to their body. Then the conversation often goes into other excitement. We don’t have sizes, which is more inclusive. We don’t have inventory, which decreases waste and emissions.  It’s not the reason people walk in the door: It’s about not having to shop and finding the perfect fit. But we do it for sustainability and the greater mission of reducing global carbon emissions by 1 percent, which is our main North Star. Want to learn more about unspun and the future of fashion? Esponnette will speak about the potential of custom, on-demand manufactured apparel this month at Circularity 20 . Listen in (for free!) at 10 a.m. PDT Aug. 25 and register here for the event.  This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, Circular Weekly, running Fridays. Subscribe here . Pull Quote We don’t have sizes, which is more inclusive. We don’t have inventory, which decreases waste and emissions. Topics Circular Economy Shipping & Logistics E-commerce 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 Courtesy of Unspun Close Authorship

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QuenchSea offers low-cost desalination device for humanitarian aid

July 21, 2020 by  
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Newly developed QuenchSea is a low-cost, handheld machine with the potential to become a complete life-saver for water-related emergency situations and humanitarian crises. The device has the capacity to turn about one liter of seawater — and up to three liters in ideal conditions — into drinkable freshwater every hour using a manual system. The desalination device comes from London-based start-up Hydro Wind Energy, and the company is on a mission to donate 100 million units for humanitarian efforts by 2027. The innovative idea is part of an ambitious vision to help solve the world’s freshwater crisis. Related: GoSun Flow is a portable water purifier and sanitation station powered by solar Globally, there are 2 billion people living without access to clean water . Around two-thirds of the global population live in water-scarce areas, and 7 million die from water-related diseases each year. In the past, emergency situations would often mean resorting to boiling seawater in order to make the water potable. The QuenchSea provides a safe alternative that is not only fast and convenient, but affordable, making it one of the first of its kind. Better yet, each purchase includes the donation of an extra device for humanitarian use by one of QuenchSea’s clean water partners. Even if you don’t need a device for yourself, the website offers opportunities to donate funds toward a purchase of one for a nonprofit organization. QuenchSea works by combining a hydraulic system, triple-filtration and reverse osmosis. There is an inbuilt ultrafiltration and microfiltration system inside that removes suspended solids, bacteria, viruses, parasites and microplastics from the seawater. An initial filter removes the majority of the sediments and particles before forcing the seawater through a pressurized 0.01 micron membrane to remove the rest of the contaminants. The final stage uses an advanced industrial reverse osmosis membrane containing pores small enough to filter pure water through while rejecting larger molecules, such as salt and bacteria. While the global water crisis was the initial inspiration for the project, the QuenchSea device is designed for anyone to use. Whether you’re a sailor on the open ocean, a survivalist or a camper , the ease of use makes it an ideal companion to outdoor adventures. The device weighs just 1.5 pounds, fits into a small bag and is both durable and reusable. Need for additional filters vary depending on usage but will only cost about $10 to change. + QuenchSea Images via QuenchSea

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How tree-planting startup Propagate Ventures monetizes land conservation

July 9, 2020 by  
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How tree-planting startup Propagate Ventures monetizes land conservation Heather Clancy Thu, 07/09/2020 – 01:30 Earlier this year, when I was chatting with venture capitalist Nancy Pfund of DBL Partners about which new areas of climate solutions were intriguing to her, she pointed to business models that had the potential to monetize land conservation. The example we discussed that day wasn’t one I would think of immediately: Better Place Forests, which is creating what it calls “conservation memorial forests.” It’s a different model for saving trees that takes a cue from the end-of-life industry.  Instead of buying a cemetery or mausoleum plot for cremated ashes, you or your family can pay toward the preservation of a tree —  the fee starts at $2,900. The ashes are mixed with soil at the base, along with a memorial marker. Currently, the company is protecting forests in Northern California and Arizona. But that’s not all: For every person and tree it memorializes, it plants at least 25 impact trees in collaboration with the nonprofit One Tree Planted . And as of July 2019, the company had raised $12 million in early-stage venture funding (led by True Ventures ) to help with its mission. When I started poking around to identify other for-profit ventures in the business of land conservation, two other organizations that have been working with Microsoft jumped to mind, both of which provide technology for mapping and measuring forests : Pachama and Silvia Terra .  In May, I spoke with another intriguing agroforestry startup, Propagate Ventures , part of the fall 2018 cohort at Elemental Excelerator. The company, which recently raised $1.5 million in seed funding from the Grantham Environmental Trust, is focused on helping agricultural operations figure out how to profit from planting trees.  How do we improve the pasture but make sure it isn’t a sink on the wallet? Like Pachama and Silvia Terra, Propagate’s competitive edge is analytics and information. It analyzes the costs of the investment, the potential revenue, the labor implications and the anticipated yield. Co-founder and CEO Ethan Steinberg said the concept is similar to the analysis tool a developer might use to assess the viability of a solar energy project.  “It’s focused on both the economics and the ecological value that is driven,” he told me. That includes formulating plans specific to keeping ownership of the investable assets (trees) separate from the real estate; that’s an important consideration for farmers who lease the land they are working. The idea is to help agricultural operations use land that is otherwise fallow or unused to plant trees, usually intended for fruit, nut or timber cultivation.  When I spoke with Steinberg, the company had more than 20 projects on the books — ranging from livestock producers looking for a source of shade for animals to those growing specialty grain crops who are looking to diversify their income. Most of these organizations so far are in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States, where Propagate is proposing the most ecologically approach options for their particular region. “Farmers shouldn’t transition to something that isn’t viable for their land,” Steinberg said. What’s more, these arrangements generally are structured with a buyer or cultivation partners in place. “We are not having to recreate those relationships from scratch,” he noted. One organization testing out this model is Handsome Brook Farms , a network of pasture-raised egg farms in states including Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, New York, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Chickens raised in this manner are free to roam in pastures — generally there are 400 birds to an acre. The farmers sell their eggs to Handsome Brook, which handles the processing and distribution. They have the autonomy to run their own operations, provided they meet the requirements for the pasture-raised model — the network farms are both certified and humane organic. Kristen Wharton, director of strategic planning and development for Handsome Brook, said the idea of incorporating nut trees on certain properties is appealing and it’s testing the idea over the next year with a limited number of farms, starting in Kentucky. The main concern is cost, but many farmers are also leery of managing a secondary project. “How do we improve the pasture but make sure it isn’t a sink on the wallet?” she mused. One possible option is a cost-sharing model, in which Handsome Brook would share some investment or investigate participation in grant programs that support soil health and water quality improvement projects, Wharton said. The top goal is to get the chickens to roam across a larger portion of the property, a habit that would counteract compacted soil and erosion around the barns where the hens take shelter. One question Handsome Brook hopes to answer: “How might this model set us apart?” What other for-profit agroforestry ventures have caught your attention? Share ideas with me at heather@greenbiz.com . This article first appeared in GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, VERGE Weekly, running Wednesdays. Subscribe  here . Follow me on Twitter: @greentechlady. Pull Quote How do we improve the pasture but make sure it isn’t a sink on the wallet? Topics Food & Agriculture Conservation Featured Column Practical Magic Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Fruit nut alley cropping in New York. Courtesy of Propagate Ventures Close Authorship

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Everloops sustainable toothbrush comes with replaceable bamboo bristles

March 26, 2020 by  
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Mexico City-based NOS has come out with a design to address one of the many causes of plastic pollution that consumers tend to overlook: toothbrushes. The company’s Everloop toothbrush combines a reusable, recycled plastic handle with replaceable bristles made from compostable bamboo . The sheer number of plastic toothbrushes that end up in landfills every year is a much larger problem than most people realize. Most dentists, as well as the American Dental Association (ADA), recommend replacing toothbrushes every three or four months or whenever the bristles begin to fray. Seeing as there are over 300 million people living in the United States, that means there are about 1 billion plastic toothbrushes tossed into the garbage every year in this country alone. Related: Tooth — the eco-friendly toothbrush made from recycled and biodegradable materials The plastic handles on typical toothbrushes are regularly found during beach cleanups, and the tiny nylon bristles have the potential to contribute to microplastics in the ocean. Some modern designs aim to take the plastic out of disposable toothbrushes and replace it with bamboo handles. This is a step in the right direction, but it still leaves the issue of regular pollution every three months when it’s time to replace the toothbrush, especially considering many bamboo toothbrushes still have nylon bristles. NOS aims to stop this endless toothbrush pollution with its unique redesign of the bristle component. The head and base of the Everloop toothbrush is made of recycled plastic from other discarded toothbrushes, with a clipping mechanism that easily opens and closes to replace the bristles (made entirely out of natural bamboo) when it’s time to change them. The disposed bamboo bristles are 100% compostable. Each toothbrush comes with a set of eight bamboo bristles to be replaced every three months, enough for at least two years. Even the packaging, made from thermoformed paper pulp, can be safely composted . + NOS Images via NOS

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Everloops sustainable toothbrush comes with replaceable bamboo bristles

VERGE 19: Welcoming Remarks

February 12, 2020 by  
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GreenBiz Vice President and VERGE Executive Director, Shana Rappaport, welcomes VERGE 19 participants to the event with a clean economy call to action and surprise performance by The Seastars. “This isn’t just about avoiding an ecological and economic crisis,” Rappaport says. “It’s about helping a future unfold that has the potential to be more prosperous for all people and all life than it’s ever been.”

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VERGE 19: Welcoming Remarks

How companies can source man-made cellulosics more sustainably

January 27, 2020 by  
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As a plant-based fiber, man-made cellulosics have the potential to be a more sustainable choice because they are renewable. But the production process can contribute to deforestation.

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First-of-its-kind device prototype harnesses renewable energy from ocean waves

October 16, 2019 by  
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Our planet is a water world, covered with 70 percent oceans. For centuries, it’s been widely known that the high seas can generate energy, if harnessed appropriately. With today’s renewables market rapidly expanding, it’s no wonder then that wave energy has recently gained traction as a contemporary, clean energy source. Two companies have jointly completed a marine hydrokinetic convertor, the OE Buoy, to leverage wave power as a renewable, green energy source. The city of Portland, Oregon is corporate headquarters to Vigor, a marine and industrial fabrication company that has had a long-standing record of cutting edge engineering projects. For this endeavor, Vigor teamed up with Irish wave-power pioneer Ocean Energy in a collaborative effort to push marine hydrokinetic technologies forward. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) helped to fund the $12 million design project. Related: Renewable energy surpasses fossil fuels in the UK Weighing 826 tons, the OE Buoy wave device measures 125 feet long, 59 feet wide and 68 feet tall. It will be deployed at the U.S. Navy Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) on the windward side of the Hawaiian island of Oahu, off the coast of Naval Base Pearl Harbor. The buoy has the potential to generate up to 1.25 megawatts of electrical power. In other words, it has enough utility-quality electricity supply to support marine-based data centers, desalination plants, naval autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) power platforms, offshore fish farming and off-grid applications for remote island communities. Besides that, the buoy has the capacity to greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, making it a cleaner, more sustainable source of renewable energy . “This first-of-its kind wave energy convertor is scalable, reliable and capable of generating sustainable power to facilitate a range of use-cases that were previously unimaginable or just impractical,” said John McCarthy, CEO of Ocean Energy. “This internationally significant project will be invaluable to job creation, renewable energy generation and greenhouse gas reduction. Additionally, technology companies will be able to benefit from wave power through the development of OE Buoy devices as marine-based data storage and processing centers. The major players in Big Data are already experimenting with subsea data centers to take advantage of the energy savings by cooling these systems in the sea. OE Buoy now presents them with the potential double-benefit of ocean cooling and ocean energy in the one device.” + Vigor + Ocean Energy Via OPB Image via Tiluria

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First-of-its-kind device prototype harnesses renewable energy from ocean waves

The Skai hydrogen-powered aircraft produces zero emissions

October 7, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

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Alaka’i Technologies has launched a zero-emissions aircraft with six rotors, electric motors and hydrogen fuel cells as well as a range of 400 miles or four hours. The helicopter-meets-drone aircraft was designed to be piloted either in person, remotely or autonomously, with ample space for up to five passengers. The most impressive feature — that it runs on hydrogen fuel cells — gives this aircraft the potential to become one of the greenest modes of air transportation. The hydrogen fuel cells allow Skai to travel farther and carry more weight, and they are 95 percent reusable, with 99 percent of the remaining materials being recyclable. An Airframe parachute feature adds an additional level of safety, and there is no need for long runways thanks to the vertical take-off and landing capabilities. Related: Germany premieres the first hydrogen-powered train in the world So who exactly designed this futuristic, environmentally friendly aircraft ? The creators are an impressive team of nationally recognized aerospace experts, engineers and veteran pilots that have completed top-level positions at organizations such as NASA and the Department of Defense. Alaka’i Technologies has been around since the 1990s, earning recognition with its development and testing of the world’s first Fly-By-Light aircraft. These days, the company is focused on transportation though hydrogen-powered mobility. For Skai, Alaka’i Technologies teamed up with Designworks, the design studio for the BMW Group. This collaboration promises a sleek, fashionable design in line with the luxury and style for which BMW is known. Skai also offers so much more than commercial air travel. Brian Morrison, the co-founder, president and chief technology officer of Alaka’i Technologies, suggested that this eco-friendly aircraft can provide affordable and responsible solutions to “everything from relieving traffic congestion to delivering supplies during natural disasters.” Currently, Skai is in testing with the FAA, pending certification. The company plans to launch the piloted version of the aircraft initially and follow with an autonomous version. + Alaka’i Technologies Via Uncrate Images via Alaka’i Technologies

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The Skai hydrogen-powered aircraft produces zero emissions

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