Seville’s plan to turn oranges into electricity

February 25, 2021 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Spanish engineers have updated the old citrus cliché, bringing it into the eco era — when life gives you oranges, make electricity. In Seville, they’re repurposing the many tons of fruit that the city’s 48,000 orange trees drop in the streets. Instead of a sticky, pulpy wintertime hazard, the methane from these rotting oranges will soon generate clean energy . Seville’s municipal water company, Emasesa, will start this new program by using 35 tons of fruit in a facility that already turns organic matter into electricity. The methane captured from fermenting oranges will drive the generators for water purification plants. If the orange experiment is successful, old fruit could one day supply the grid with surplus power . Scientists report that early trials show that 1,000 kilograms of oranges can fuel five homes for a day. If all of Seville’s oranges were harvested, they could power 73,000 homes. Recent: Vincent Callebaut proposes a green, food-producing footbridge for Paris “We hope that soon we will be able to recycle all the city’s oranges,” said Benigno López, the head of Emasesa’s environmental department, as reported by The Guardian . “The juice is fructose made up of very short carbon chains and the energetic performance of these carbon chains during the fermentation process is very high. It’s not just about saving money. The oranges are a problem for the city and we’re producing added value from waste .” López estimated that Seville would need to invest 250,000 euros (about $300,000) to accomplish this. Oranges were introduced to Spain about 1,000 years ago. “They have taken root here, they’re resistant to pollution and have adapted well to the region,” said Fernando Mora Figueroa, head of the Seville’s parks department. “People say the city of Seville is the world’s largest orange grove.” Locals don’t eat typically eat the bitter oranges. Instead, they drop, rot and attract flies. The city employs 200 people to pick up the fallen fruit . Via The Guardian Image via Hans Braxmeier

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Seville’s plan to turn oranges into electricity

Mayonnaise is saving sea turtles after an oil spill in Israel

February 25, 2021 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

An unlikely hero is emerging in Israel’s fight to save sea turtles from one of the country’s worst ecological disasters. Mayonnaise is making the difference between life and death for some turtles affected by the estimated 1,000 tons of tar washing up on Israel’s Mediterranean coastline. North of Tel Aviv, at the Sea Turtle Rescue Center in Michmoret, medical assistant Guy Ivgy is helping to treat 11 turtles. “They came to us full of tar,” Ivgy said . “All their trachea from inside and outside was full of tar.” Turtle rescue workers have found that feeding the fatty, egg-based condiment to the turtles helps flush out their tar-clogged digestive tracks. Within a week or two, workers hope to release the turtles back into the wild. Related: Volunteers brave winter storm to save cold-stunned sea turtles The source of all this tar is still shrouded in mystery. It likely came from an oil tanker passing the Israeli coast a week or so ago. Israeli officials think that a ship spilled tens — or maybe even hundreds — of tons of oil outside Israel’s territorial waters. Then, without warning, chunks of tar starting washing up on the beaches of Israel and Lebanon. Because tar irritates human skin and can cause illness, people have been warned to stay off beaches — except for the 4,000 or so volunteers doing the cleanup to minimize damage to wildlife. The spill’s “consequences will be seen for years to come,” according to the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. Sea birds and other animals in the Mediterranean have also ingested spilled oil. Scientists are especially worried about Dendropoma petraeum , a type of reef-building snail whose population has already plummeted from global warming . Earlier this week, an Israeli court forbade publishing any details of the investigation, including the name of the suspected ship and its itinerary. Israeli journalists have petitioned the court to lift the ban. People want to know who is responsible for this destruction — and where to send the bill. Via AP and NPR Image via Kandhal Keshvala

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Mayonnaise is saving sea turtles after an oil spill in Israel

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

You can make this 3D-printed, bioplastic face shield at home

February 22, 2021 by  
Filed under Green, Recycle

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many issues of waste into the spotlight, starting with the sheer quantity of petroleum-based personal protective equipment (PPE) used in the medical field and by everyday users gearing up to go to the grocery store or park. Designer Alice Potts homed in on this problem early, countering it with face shields made from food waste and flowers. These face shields required more than just a little research and development. Potts wanted to tackle the issue of plastic-based PPE but approached it by also addressing food waste . Potts said the face shields are biodegradable , because they are a product of food and flowers collected from local markets, butchers and households in the surrounding London area. The variety of organic materials affect the final product, meaning that each mask varies in unique ways. Related: Engineering student turns food waste into renewable energy “Every colour is completely seasonal depending on what flowers are blooming, what vegetables and fruits are growing and earth that is in and around London,” the designer said. Potts was initially inspired by her brother, a paramedic who reported a lack of PPE for himself and other first responders and medical care workers. So Potts set out to create a more sustainable option intended for the public, because the shields likely don’t offer the same level of protection as required in a medical care setting. With the recipe for the face shield and a design for the 3D-printed top section, Potts plans to make the template available to everyone via an open-source design. “I want to combine the advantages of technology with sustainability to form a template of the top of a face shield that can be 3D-printed from recycled plastic with a bioplastic recipe for the shield for people to make at home,” she said. The Dance Biodegradable Personal Protective Equipment (DBPPE) Post COVID Facemasks, as Potts named them, will be on exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, an event that highlights art, design, and architecture and runs through April 2021. + Alice Potts  Via Dezeen   Images via James Stopforth and Sean Fennessy via Alice Potts

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You can make this 3D-printed, bioplastic face shield at home

Shahar Livne turns recycled ocean plastic into Balenciaga jewelry

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

Award-winning conceptual material designer Shahar Livne collaborated with fashion design company Balenciaga to create a new line of jewelry made from recycled ocean plastic . Inhabitat caught up with Livne to hear more about the process and inspiration behind the project. “The collaboration took inspiration from my ongoing speculative research project ‘Metamorphism,’ which investigates the future of plastics within the geological record of the Earth and the rebirth of it as a possible future semi-natural material I named ‘Lithoplast,’” Livne told Inhabitat. “In the  ‘Metamorphism’ project, I use different plastics, ocean plastics, or landfill-designated plastics, in developing the new jewelry collection we worked with both, mainly PP and HDPE.” The jewelry line will be available for purchase on the Balenciaga website in May 2021. Related: Nonprofit Washed Ashore crafts art and jewelry from ocean plastic The ocean plastic comes from Oceanworks , a worldwide marketplace for recycled plastic products and raw materials. The company sources plastic materials from all over the world, focusing mainly in Southeast Asia, where it says 60% of the world’s ocean plastic originates. The jewelry line, which consists of bracelets, earrings and rings, also uses marble waste material sourced from a marble processing company as well as landfill-derived plastic from recycling companies. “It was interesting for us to work with OceanWorks-provided materials since we wanted to find the most sustainable and social option,” Livne went on to say. “OceanWorks is a global network that collected plastics from different areas, among them the oceans, with the help of fishermen and other beach cleaning operations, and the connection seemed perfect.” The designer followed a similar process to her “Metamorphism” project, using heat and pressure to create a composite material. The material is then molded by hand into vintage -style shapes designed by Balenciaga, 3D-scanned to create a mold (in order to recreate a coherent style for the entire collection) and then finished by hand by Livne herself. + Shahar Livne Design Via Dezeen Images via Balenciaga and Shahar Livne Design

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Shahar Livne turns recycled ocean plastic into Balenciaga jewelry

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

This wallet can tell you about its carbon impact

February 18, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

This wallet can tell you about its carbon impact Heather Clancy Thu, 02/18/2021 – 01:00 For more essays by Heather Clancy, sign up for VERGE Weekly , one of our free newsletters. In early January, I covered personal care products company Aveda’s project to trace and verify the provenance of its vanilla supply using blockchain — and to allow consumers to peek into that information by later this year. It’s not the only consumer brand dreaming about that sort of connection or looking to digital technology as the answer.  Fashion brand Covalent, created to showcase the potential of a biomaterial called AirCarbon made by biotech firm Newlight Technologies, has started communicating with its customers in a similar way. It’s using blockchain software from IBM to track and disclose carbon impact data related to the production of its products, marketed as carbon-negative. Covalent’s metric is called Carbon Date, a 12-digit number stamped on the roughly three dozen SKUs in its product catalog — items ranging from wallets to clutches to smartphone sleeves to tote bags. Consumers can see the data by visiting the Covalent website and entering their unique code. (The test drive at the link shows you the sort of information that is shared.) The Carbon Date is verified with footprint information from carbon accounting firm Carbon Trust, which created a cradle-to-cradle analysis of AirCarbon after an assessment in 2020.  Newlight CEO Mark Herrema told me his company created the Carbon Date concept to appeal to consumers seeking to dig deeper into the environmental claims being made by consumer products brands. “We had this epiphany that GHG emissions seem like such a vague issue … It was about turning this into something tangible,” he says. The material used to create the products, AirCarbon, is made through a renewable energy-powered anaerobic production process in which microorganisms digest air, saltwater and captured greenhouse gases to create a bioderived polymer. According to Newlight, for every one kilogram of AirCarbon produced in this manner, 88 kilograms of CO2 equivalent are sequestered. Hence, Covalent’s ability to make a carbon-negative claim.  Right now, this is a pretty niche brand: The only place you can buy the Covalent items is on the company’s e-commerce site, and at $480 for a tote bag, they’re obviously not meant for the average consumer.  But Debbie Kestin-Schildkraut, marketing and alliances lead for IBM AI applications and the tech firm’s global blockchain ecosystem, says the importance of proving environmental claims is growing. “We are seeing in every study that we do that more and more consumers are willing to change their shopping habits … Blockchain can help build involvement,” she said. IBM’s blockchain technology is being used in some pretty compelling ways, including to track scallop fishing and offer a premium price to certain boats that fish more sustainably than others; and for food safety applications, such as the ones being deployed by Walmart . Recycler Plastic Bank is also using IBM blockchain services to verify its claims . (The same integrator that wrote that application helped Covalent with the Carbon Date project.) To be clear, the life-cycle analysis used for the Carbon Data calculation includes just raw material extraction, transport of raw materials and manufacturing. It doesn’t include the e-commerce cycle, nor does it include end-of-life considerations that are part of circular economy assessments. AirCarbon is billed a “natural, biologically degradable material” similar to wood. If it winds up in the ocean, it can be eaten by microorganisms — much like a banana peel, according to the company’s FAQ. Is this all a publicity stunt? The skeptic in me says yes but I love the creativity and you can’t argue with the need for transparency initiatives that include the consumer. In this way, the Carbon Date initiative echoes similar moves to label food with their carbon impact that have been embraced by the likes of Unilever, Chipotle and Panera Breads. The challenge will be finding an approach that doesn’t require a translation guide for every single consumer production category. Topics Carbon Removal Consumer Products Zero Emissions Blockchain 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 Every Covalent product comes with a Carbon Date to help educate consumers about the impact of its production. Courtesy of Covalent

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This wallet can tell you about its carbon impact

Sustainable Brook Hollow homes feature unexpected pops of color

February 16, 2021 by  
Filed under Green, Recycle

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Jeannie and Daryl Losaw, owners of Texas-based Losaw Construction and IBS Homes, have begun construction on their affordable and sustainable homes at Brook Hollow Club Estates in San Marcos, Texas. The Brook Hollow homes will have playful, brightly colored exterior accent walls to give them a touch of extra character in the Texas Hill Country. The company, which owns and developed the Brook Hollow Club Estates, has been in operation since 2006. During that time, it has focused on sustainable and affordable homes in Central and South Texas, especially near the state’s capital of Austin. Related: Solar-powered dome in the Texas desert is the perfect place to go off the grid Surrounded by willow trees on a quarter-acre of land, the group of 25 houses will include shed roof styles with clean lines, multiple windows and front porches . The light gray paint on the outside of the homes is accented by a bright splash of color, giving these structures a unique style in an otherwise contemporary design. There are four models available ranging from 1,400 to 1,700 square feet: the Stanton, the King, the Chavez and the Ginsburg. Homes cost anywhere from $220,000 to $259,000, but the many green features included in the design will likely help reduce customer costs in the long run. These include an efficient residential air conditioning system taken from a commercial method where air is exchanged and treated. The system, which also helps keep the interior free from outside allergens, is complemented with spray foam insulation. Aside from this high-performing HVAC design, the Brook Hollow homes use a steel foundation that is more carbon-friendly than concrete, according to the company. These helical pier foundations are easily recycled and moved from place to place if need be, taking up less resources. Additionally, the metal roofing used in construction is also recyclable, highly durable and comes prepared for solar installation. + Brook Hollow Club Estates Images via IBS Homes

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Sustainable Brook Hollow homes feature unexpected pops of color

A three-handed robot quickly and efficiently sorts recycling

February 15, 2021 by  
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Robots contribute to efficiency and productivity in businesses around the globe daily. So when Matanya Horowitz, founder of AMP Robotics, discovered how inefficient the recycling business had become, he put his company to work to develop a solution. The result is a three-handed robot that views, makes decisions and sorts recycling on the line. Industry studies have shown a huge amount of recycling waste. Although education and improvements in curbside recycling availability have increased the amount of recycling at the business and consumer levels, a huge portion of that is pulled off the recycling conveyor belt and ends up in the trash anyway. Additionally, the stricter purity specifications from international buyers, such as China, have created more of a waste stream. Related: Oil and plastic industry spent millions to mislead the public about plastic recycling “There’s a tremendous amount of value captured in paper, and plastic, and metal, that right now is lost at the landfill” Horowitz explained in a video. “The trouble is that the value of this material is really eroded by the cost of sorting it out in these recycling centers.” This tedious manual sorting can now be done by a robot that analyzes and sorts 80 plastic , metal and paper items of recycling per minute, which is estimated to be twice the rate of human sorters performing the same task. Plus, accuracy is rated at 99%; the company reported, “We can recognize and recover material as small as a bottlecap and as unique as a Keurig coffee pod or Starbucks cup that may require secondary processing to ensure they are recycled.” The robot uses the same “seeing” vision as self-driving cars, which allows it to analyze and make decisions about materials as they approach. It then either tells its suction cup ‘hands’ to pick an item up or allows it to float by. The system is also equipped with artificial intelligence that allows it to continuously improve accuracy, including the ability to identify squished or faded containers. With the improved speed and efficiency, this innovation could dramatically increase the amount of recycled and reused materials. In turn, this means a reduction in waste and carbon emissions at the landfill. “Globally, more than $200 billion worth of recyclable materials goes unrecovered annually,” Horowitz told Inverse. “A.I.-driven automation enables the efficient recovery of more material, which increases recycling rates and reduces human impact on the environment.” While the entire system is high-tech and sounds a bit sci-fi, the installation is easily mounted over conveyor belts in as little as 48 hours. Following a weekend installation, recycling centers can implement the robot for $6,000 a month for an estimated cost savings of 70%. However, AMP Robotics recognizes the cost of human job loss and encourages employee retraining programs. In the spring of 2020, AMP Robotics reported robot installations in more than 20 states, estimating a reduction of half a million tons of greenhouse gases . The company claims to have processed more than one billion individual items in the waste stream over a 12-month period. Robots are here to stay in nearly every aspect of our lives, from cars to vacuums to food delivery, an idea further supported by the fact that the company entered into a contract with one of the largest waste management companies in the country, Waste Connections, to install 24 robots on recycling lines last year alone. + AMP Robotics Via Inverse Images via AMP Robotics

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