Compostable Diapers

1) Sustainability Problem: Solid Waste

Specifically, diaper waste. Every baby goes through about 5,000 diapers in their lifetime. In the US this means that 20 billion diapers a year end up in landfills. This makes diapers the 3rd biggest single product contributing to the waste stream that enters  landfills. Landfills produce GHG gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4). In total, landfills account for nearly 36% of annual methane emissions in the U.S.

2) Technology:

  • Pioneers in the eco-friendly diaper industry, gCycle’s gDiaper is the world’s first certified cradle-to-cradle, 100 percent compostable children’s diaper.
  • The gDiaper replacing oil-based plastic with non-GMO corn biofilm.
  • In their pilot program with childcare centers in Australia, gCycle delivers their compostable diapers and then picks them up once they are used. The childcare centers are able to divert 80% of their waste stream from landfill. gCycle turns the used diapers into compost and then returns the compost to the childcare centers who use it onsite or give it to parents.
  • The company also provides instructions on how to compost the diapers at home here

3) Stakeholders:

  • parents
  • childcare centers
  • commercial diaper brands
  • composting centers

4) Deployment/Implementation

  • Expand pilot test from Australia
  • Begin selling in retail stores
  • Launch ad campaign to raise awareness of brand


Comment on

Very interesting idea but have you thought about the effect floating cities will have on marine life? Also will these cities be able to produce enough food to sustain their populations? If not, how would resources be imported to the city?



Self-Healing Smart Grid

1) Sustainability Problem: Electrical Grid Reliability

Renewable energy is being increasingly integrated into the electric grid but this intermittent energy source can put pressure on the grid. Maintaining reliability while transitioning to a renewable based grid is the biggest challenge facing this advance.

2) Technology:

  • In order to address this problem Dutch energy expert Alfen has developed the Cellular Smart Grid Platform(CSGriP), which divides the central grid into smaller cells that can operate autonomously and even self-heal.
  • If a power outage occurs in the grid each local cell will take over and automatically start restoring all local sources of energy supply, such as solar and wind, and redistribute the energy to local customers. Once the balance is restored it reconnects to the central grid and quickly rebuilds the larger grid. This reduces duration and size of outages.
  • “Unique about this solution is that the local cells are intrinsically stable through self-adjustment of supply and demand based on the frequency of the electricity grid. This makes the grid truly self-healing in cases of central grid outages. The self-healing mechanism based on frequencies sets it apart from many IT-related smart grids that require relatively vulnerable data and ICT connections for balancing local grids,” explained Evert Raaijen, Energy Storage Specialist at Alfen.
  • This technology can be used in the developed world to decentralize grid systems and can also be used in the developing world to serve under-served areas quickly by creating local micro-grids instead of building large petroleum based centralized grids.

3) Stakeholders:

  • electricity consumers
  • electric companies
  • renewable energy suppliers
  • grid operators

4) Deployment/Implementation

  • Expand pilot test from the Netherlands
  • Deploy local micro-grids in developing countries
  • Create partnership with utility companies



Comment on Dynamic Buildings for a Sustainable Future


This seems like a great technology, it reduces building time, number of workers, is more earthquake resistant and generates energy but how do the costs compare? I couldn’t find any information on the costs.

Biodegradable Fabric From Methane-Eating Bacteria

1) Sustainability Problem: Fast Fashion & Global Warming

The fast fashion industry encompasses many problems: water use, labor issues/human rights, textile waste, and microfibers that end up contaminating the oceans due to breakdown during washing being a few.

Additionally, greenhouse gases, such as methane, a particularly potent greenhouse gas, are causing global warming.

2) Technology:

  • Microbes feed on waste methane and are then forced into a substance that serves as the feedstock for the bacteria.
  • Once the bacteria grows denser the PHA is harvested. It comes out in the form of a powder that then can be turned into the end product, polymer pellets.
  • The resulting fabrics created from the Mango Materials yarn are biodegradable. For example a light t-shirt would fully degrade in a month in a compost pile. If fibers end up in the ocean they would also dissolve.
  • This material reduces the amount of methane in the atmosphere and creates a biodegradable textile without the water use, labor issues, waste and ocean pollution of the textile industry.

2017-MM-Cycle-v1-1.3-twu3) Stakeholders:

  • Methane Producers
    • Wastewater treatment plants
    • Farms
    • Landfills
    • Anaerobic digesters
  • Eco-friendly fashion and textile companies who want to use the fabric

4) Deployment/Implementation

  • Increase efficiency of process for turning bacteria into a polymer
  • Test more applications of the fabric and the time to breakdown
  • Expand production sites and/or license the technology to methane producers



Comment on Smart Fabrics – no wires or batteries:

This is an interesting technology but will only really work if all fabrics have this embedded technology. If someone buys this shirt but has an emergency on any day they are not wearing the shirt the benefit is gone.

Upcycling Food Waste

1) Sustainability Problem: Industrial Food Waste

Most industrial processes, including those for the food and beverage industry, create waste that currently ends up in landfills. This wastes food that could be used to feed people and contributes to global warming by adding more materials to landfills.

2) Technology:

  • RISE Products, a food tech startup in Brooklyn is attempting to address this problem by upcycling the waste from beer production into a valuable ingredient, flour.
  • The primary ingredient in beer making is malted barley. Hot water is added to the grains converting into a mash. Sugar is released from the grains. It sits for some time and later this sugary water is extracted. With further processing, this will become beer. What remains (the mash) is now spent grain.
  • RISE upcycles this “spent” grain into an organic, sustainable, high-protein, low-carb and low-cholesterol flour.Screen Shot 2017-10-26 at 1.11.34 PM


  • RISE partners with local microbreweries to source the “spent” grain.

3) Stakeholders:

  • Microbreweries
  • Commercial Breweries
  • Bakeries
  • Home Bakers
  • Regulatory – FDA

4) Deployment/Implementation

  • Secure patent for their technology (currently pending)
  • Increase capacity of their facilities to process “spent” grain so they can partner with larger, commercial breweries to have a larger impact in reducing this waste byproduct.
  • Expand model to include other waste byproducts to transfer industrial food waste processing . The company’s vision includes processing pomace from the wine industry, okara from soy-milk production, and fruit pulp from juicing.



Comment on DNA barcodes for sustainable seafood consumption

  • Who will be responsible for testing the catch and how will testing be enforced? If testing is done at the docs as proposed in your post, will those retailers have the equipment, capacity, time, etc. to realistically test the catch coming in in a timely matter?

Comercial Carbon Capture

9_climeworks_iceland_dac_plant_founder_jan_wurzbacher_left_and_christoph_gebald_right_credit_climeworks_-_zev_starr-tambor1) Sustainability Problem:

CO2 gas in the atmosphere is a major contributor to global warming. While many governments,organizations, scientists, individuals, etc. are working on ways to reduce emissions from our everyday actives to prevent more CO2 from entering our atmosphere , some companies are not looking into ways to reduce the amount of CO2 already in the atmosphere through carbon capture.

2) Technology:

  • How-technology-workS_V17webready.jpgEach Climeworks system is a 7-foot tall machine resembling a large fan that sucks up 50 tons of CO2 annually out of the atmosphere by using a chemical process to absorb the gas and bind it to filter materials in the system
  • The materials can then be stored or used for another purpose, such as fertilizer, which is used by a greenhouse near the company’s first plant
  • Climeworks is different from other carbon storage systems because its plants have a much smaller footprint and use less water than competitors

3) Stakeholders:

  • Competitors (other carbon capture companies)
  • Government
  • Organizations looking to offset their emissions

4) Deployment/Implementation

  • Increase pilot tests to determine feasibility of plants in different environments: “According to a Climeworks spokesperson, the main goal of the pilot is to gauge how the technology performs in the harsh winter conditions of northeast Iceland and to understand how the systems handle other air impurities, such as sulphur compounds.”
  • Decrease costs in order to scale up and take advantage of their first mover advantage – they are the first carbon capture company to reach the commercially viable stage
  • Partner with corporations to create new uses for the concentrated CO2 byproducts



Comment on Not a Plastic Bag

Is this product fully bio-degradable in landfills? As the article mentions there are issues with bio-based plastics being fully bio-degradable and non-toxic. While this is a big step in the right direction it might not fully solve the problem.

Fully Circular Furniture

1) Sustainability Problem: Waste

Our lifestyles have come to revolve around single use, disposable items that accumulate in our streets, landfills and our oceans. At the same time, we are depleting our natural resources to produce these singe use times. This method of production uses our natural resources at an unsustainable rate and damaging the environment.

2) Technology:

  • Pentatonic, a circular homeware startup, is addressing this problem by creating high-end, modular, locally made, furniture that is fully recyclable. All of their products are made from post-consumer waste, located, sourced and produced in Europe. The company is also encouraging consumers to sell back the products they no longer wish to keep so that they can be made into something new by Pentatonic. All of their products are made using single materials so that they can be recycled.
  •   Pentatonic’s products are also modular so that you can repurpose components from a chair to build one of their tables and vice versa, meaning you only have to buy the remaining components needed.
  • Additionally, Pentatonic is offering their customers full transparency, every Pentatonic component has a Product Identification Number engraved on it, which allows them to track that component’s journey through the entirety of its lifecycle: where and when it was made, what trash was used to make it, what batch it was a part of and who has owned it.
  • While the concept of recycling waste into fabrics is not new, Pentatonic takes this concept to a new level by always using single materials that are fully recyclable and combining this with a circular business model in the furniture industry, which has not been done before.
  • Their unique materials include: Plyfix, a textured felt made from plastic that is water-resistant and breathable; SRPX, a sustainable cotton fiber that is made of layers of knitted fabric; fabric made from woven plastic (PET) that is more durable than regular fabric, and glassware made from recycled smartphone screens.  All of the fabrics are free of bio-based components, can be used indoors or outdoors, and are machine washable. The glassware is dishwasher safe and scratch-resistant.

3) Stakeholders:

  • Competitors (other furniture companies)
  • Consumers
  • Waste management facilities (sourcing materials)

4) Deployment/Implementation

  • Finalize component traceability system and launch on website
  • Increase partnerships to help consumer learn about and use their products (Starbucks collaboration and pop-up)
  • Increase marketing efforts to increase their customer base in order to take full advantage of their circular business model.




Comment on Car to Car Communication:

Since this is a wireless communication network there are issues with security that are not discussed in this article at all. Additionally, how effective will this system be on first implementation? Without a large network of other cars to “talk to” the sensors will not provide much value.

Salt Storage

  1. Sustainability Problem: Renewable Energy Storage
    • There is a mismatch between when renewable energy is available (solar – during a sunny day, and wind – intermittently) and when energy is needed (all the time). Storage allows renewable energy to be used at any point in time, eliminating the need for “peaker plants” which emit large amounts of CO2 relative to ordinary power plants that run when demand is larger than the renewable energy supply. Storage will enable the scaling of renewables and a faster transition away from coal and fossil fuels.unnamed.png
  2. Technology:
    • Alphabet’s research lab X is working on a new energy storage technology called Malta. Malta works by storing wind and solar power in giant vats of molten salt and antifreeze, instead of lithium-ion batteries.  This technology is supposed to last for longer periods of time and be cheaper than the giant lithium-ion batteries currently available.
    • The technology works by converting wind and solar power to thermal energy. Heat is stored in molten salt, and cold is stored in a vat of liquid antifreeze solution. When the power is needed, the hot and cold energy are converted back into electricity by a heat engine.
    • The materials needed for thermal energy storage are cheaper and more abundant than this needed for batteries  — steel tanks, salt, and antifreeze — meaning this technology has the potential to be much cheaper than batteries. The company says its Malta technology may be recharged thousands of times and last for up to 40 years, several times longer than today’s batteries.
  3. Stakeholders:
    • Renewable energy producers
    • Utility companies
    • Regulators
    • Energy customers
    • Energy system designers and manufacturers
  4. Deployment
    1. Commercial viability test – the technology is still in the design phase.
    2. First commercial contract – partnering with a city that has committed to 100% renewable energy may be good place to start
    3. Work with utilities and regulators to enable the adoption of their technology across the grid.


Storing clean energy in salt isn’t as crazy as it sounds

Solving the Environmental Impact of Meat

Clean Meat


1) Sustainability Problem: Animal agriculture accounts for 30% of all land use on the planet and one-third of the world’s fresh water, contributing to approximately 24% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

2) In order to address this problem there are two new trends using technology to address this problem, meatless alternatives and Clean Meat. This article highlights 7 meat-free startups that are creating plant-based meat that mimic the taste, texture, and experience of meat, and dairy products, without the ecological footprint associated with traditional animal agriculture.

  • The Beyond Burger contains more more iron and protein than a beef burger with less saturated fat and none of the cholesterol, hormones or antibiotics.  Beyond Meat already has products in Whole Foods and Safeway stores around the country.
  • The Impossible Burger is unique because of a protein called heme, which gives the patty the color and flavor of meat, enabling the burger to “bleed” like meat.  The burger is made from wheat and potato proteins and copies the mouthfeel of beef fat with coconut oil.
  • Clean Meat, or cultured meat, is created by taking a small sample of the desired animal cells and replicating them in a culture outside of the animal. This creates a clean meat, meat without the antibiotics and waste contamination. Clean Meat allows consumers to still eat meat without the environmental degradation typically associated with animal agriculture. It is a safer, cleaner, more environmentally friendly way to enjoy meat.

3) Stakeholders:

  • Animal agriculture farms
  • Produce farms that support animal agriculture by supplying feedstock
  • FDA/regulators
  • Restaurants, grocery stores, meat buyers
  • NGOs
  • Consumers

4) Implementation/Deployment 

  • Raise public awareness and acceptance of these alternative meats to increase adoption of the products into everyday consumption. This can be done through advertisements of the products and its many benefits (environmental, human and animal health), but widespread adoption will only be possible if consumers try and like the products so scaling up product options and availability is key.
  • Companies such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat are already selling their products so the next step will be scaling up, and in the case of Clean Meat, reducing prices. Prices have already been dropping for Memphis Meats, one of the companies selling clean meat. Ir order to scale up these alternative meat companies will need to engage stakeholders (meat buyers – restaurants, grocery stores, etc.) in order to get their products into stores and restaurants.
  • Obtain FDA approval for necessary products so that the public has faith in the safety of what they are eating. The Impossible Burger is currently attempting this process.


UNI: etg2132