Dow Chemical: Influencing Sustainability at the Rio Olympics

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Sustainability Problem

The 2016 Rio Olympics which officially begin tomorrow are not without controversy with concerns over air quality and pollution in the waterways where athletes will compete in aquatic events such as rowing. The Dow Chemical Company is partnering with the Olympic Games for a series of projects in an effort to offset the carbon footprint of the games.

Technology:

One of the carbon mitigation projects that Dow Chemical has introduced for the Rio Olympics is microfoam packaging technology that will be implemented with Latin American based manufacturers. The microfoam packaging is geared for the food industry but could also be applied in other areas such as cosmetics and cleaning products. The microfoam process allows for reduction in weight for plastic films and allows for more packaging material to be produced from the same inputs and a more sustainable profile overall.

Stakeholders:

  • Dow Chemical
  • Olympic officials
  • Food manufacturers
  • Packaging industry

Implementation:

  • Incorporated into the Rio 2016 carbon mitigation strategy
  • Local manufacturers in Latin America will partner with Dow to produce the packaging
  • External partners will quantify and verify the carbon emissions offset by this process

Sources:

http://www.sustainablebrands.com/news_and_views/packaging/sustainable_brands/dows_new_microfoam_packaging_technology_help_lessen_impa

https://www.rio2016.com/en/news/rio-2016-leave-a-legacy-of-low-carbon-emissions

http://cen.acs.org/articles/94/i32/Rio-Olympics-teams-Dow-leave.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+cen_latestnews+(Chemical+%26+Engineering+News%3A+Latest+News)

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Cloudy With a Chance of Pain

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Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/may/17/from-app-doctors-to-big-data-five-ways-tech-will-shape-healthcare

https://cloudywithachanceofpain.com/the-project

Sustainability Problem:

Good health and well-being for all is goal #3 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Technology will continue to play a greater role in tracking, preventing and curing diseases.  Understanding the correlations between environmental conditions and the effect on health can help to achieve this goal.

Technology:

Cloudy with a Chance of Pain is a project sponsored by Arthritis Research UK that is collecting data to analyze correlations among weather and sources of chronic pain. Participants 17 and older living in the UK that have arthritis or other forms of chronic pain download app that tracks daily symptoms and the weather. The dataset is publicly available for research and the public is invited to submit ideas based on their data analysis.

Stakeholders:

  • Medical professionals
  • Patients
  • Scientists/Medical Researchers
  • App developers

Implementation:

  • Participants download the app and track their symptoms for 6 months
  • App will capture the weather data
  • Researchers and participants will have access to the data to detect patterns between symptoms and the weather

This specific app is focused on Arthritis Research in the UK but similar technology could be applied broadly to track and analyze correlations with weather/climate conditions and other health concerns, such as air quality and respiratory conditions.

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View of the data – allows you to drill down into a specific symptom to look for patterns

Smarter Food Labels to Reduce Waste

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Sustainability Problem:

Food waste is a global economic and environmental problem and in the U.S. alone accounts for $29 BN annually. While many people are food insecure, food that is perfectly fine for consumption gets thrown out because of confusion surrounding expiration dates, sell by dates and best buy dates. Many of these date labels are inconsistent and do not actually indicate the food’s safety but rather is the manufacturer’s estimate of the product’s freshness or best taste.

Technology:

Bump Mark is a different type of food label – it’s patent pending technology is bio-reactive so that the label degrades at the same rate of the food, turning the gelatin layer into liquid which creates bumps on the packaging that the consumer can feel to assess if the food is bad or not. If it is smooth, the product is fine to eat, if there are bumps- time to discard.

The composition of the label is illustrated below:

designbysol_bumpmark-layers

Bump Mark was created by designer Solveiga Pakštaitė who developed it while studying at London’s Brunel University. Currently Bump Mark is used for various meats and Pakstaite is exploring other plant-based options that could be used for different types of foods. With a “living”, reactive label consumers could better understand if their food was still fit for consumption without relying on expiry dates.

Stakeholders:

  • Food processors/manufacturers
  • Food retailers
  • Consumers of food 
  • Investors
  • Scientists

Implementation:

Pakstaite’s firm Design by Sol firm is currently looking for partners so that the labels can be fully developed and launched. Possible hurdles to launch could be regulatory requirements, as in the U.S. for example, the FDA would have oversight. There could also be push back from the food industry, who may see a reduction in sales if consumers are wasting less but also consuming else as a result.

Sources:

http://www.sustainablebrands.com/news_and_views/waste_not/hannah_furlong/forget_saving_date_these_smarter_labels_will_save_food

http://www.designbysol.co.uk/bumpmark/patent

 

Comp-A-Tent: For a more sustainable music festival

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Sustainability Problem:

  • 1 in 5 tents used at music festivals are used once and abandoned, creating landfill waste
  • Materials in these tents are often toxic

Technology:

  • Comp-A-Tent tents are made of bio-based materials that can be composted with food waste
  • Fully biodegradable after 120 days with no net CO2 increase
  • Closed loop process as waste product can be re-used
  • BusinessGreen Tech Award Winner 2015 for Bio-Technology of the Year

Stakeholders:

  • Festival attendees
  • Festival organizers/promoters
  • City officials / community leaders of festival locations
  • Residents of communities where festivals are held
  • Festival sponsors
  • Investors

Implementation:

  • Prototypes are currently in use at 7 UK music festivals
  • Plans are to crowdsource funding in 2017 with a full launch in 2018 with select festival partners
  • Tents would be available for sale along with festival ticket and available for pick up on site and disposal

Challenges are that the disposable but un-sustainable tents currently on the marketplace are cheap and readily available making it easy for festival goers to just leave behind. The Comp-A-Tent will cost around £50 which is more than double the average cost of a normal tent. KarTent, another eco-tent that is made of cardboard uses advertisers to help subsidize the cost for festival goers. Partnering with cities and the festivals (who have to clean up and deal with the environmental impact of the tents left behind) and with sponsors who could perhaps help subsidize the cost or offer some other incentive to encourage the use of the Comp-A-Tent rather than traditional tents.

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/jul/02/cardboard-bioplastic-tents-pitching-up-at-festivals-glastonbury-waste?CMP=ema-1706&CMP=

http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2430639/businessgreen-technology-awards-2015-shortlist-announced

http://comp-a-tent.com/

http://www.wired.co.uk/article/royal-academy-of-engineering-innovation-awards

Smog Filtering Tower

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Article: http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/sep/19/worlds-first-smog-filtering-tower-on-tour-daan-roosegaarde-air-pollution

Technology:

Architect Dan Roosegaarde and nanoparticles expert Bob Ursem created a smog filter that uses ion technology to ingest dirty air,  filter it, and return clean air through vents. The filter is installed in a  7meter high steel tower that can be easily shipped. Initially installed in Rotterdam, expansion plans include Beijing, whose pollution inspired the product’s design. The filter has the capacity to clean 30,000 cubic meters of air in an hour. The air space roughly the size of a football stadium could be filtered in 1.5 days. The tower is also energy efficient running on 14,000 kilowatts of power. In Rotterdam, it is powered by wind and will potentially be powered by solar in other cities.

Sustainability Problem:

Air pollution causes nearly 3 million deaths per year and is expected to get worse, especially in developing countries, if steps to resolve are not addressed. The filtering towers will not solve the problem completely, but it is a good concept to increase awareness of air quality conditions and encourage wider air pollution reduction measures.

Stakeholders:

  • Governments in cities/countries with poor air quality
  • Citizens in cities/countries with poor air quality
  • NGOs
  • Scientists/Engineers
  • Architects/Urban Planners
  • Investors

Implementation:

  • Initial funds were raised on Kickstarter
  • Plan is to implement in public parks in Beijing with leasing options available to keep costs down
  • Potential expansion to other countries that face air quality concerns such as India
  • Public-Private Partnerships would be key in implementing on larger scale and to help cities with the costs

Other Sources:

 

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-12-07/can-beijing-turn-smog-into-diamonds-an-artist-bets-his-own-money-on-ithttps://www.studioroosegaarde.net/info/https://www.chinadialogue.net/books/8157-Beijing-welcomes-world-s-first-smog-eating-tower/en

Circular Content Management System (CCMS): Track and Trace Tool for Supply Chains

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Technology and Background

Circular Content Management System (CCMS) is a cloud-based platform developed by Improvement IT with Netherlands-based clothing manufacturer Dutch aWEARness. All garments produced by Dutch aWEARness are 100% recyclable and are leased to the consumer who returns it after use so the materials can be reprocessed back into raw materials. Though a relatively small company, Dutch aWEARness aims to promote the circular economy and collaborate with other designers, retailers, manufacturers and others involved in the textile industry. Dutch aWEARness has used a track and trace barcode system for all of its products and materials and is now making the platform, CCMS, available for others in an effort to increase transparency and facilitate the circular economy.

How CCMS works:

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  • Data input  (i.e. suppliers, processes, energy, raw materials, transportation modes, etc.)
  • Batch code is created for every step of the chain and linked together
  • QR code generated for final product
  • Scan shows all materials, partners, environmental impact and a Google map of the product’s route

Sustainability Problem

Textile waste takes up approximately 5% of U.S. landfill space according to EPA estimates and only 15% of textiles are currently recycled in the U.S. By promoting the circular economy, the CCMS enables greater accountability and transparency regarding raw materials and waste in the textile/apparel industries. The tool not only facilities better supply chain practices and facilitates the circular model for manufacturers but enables consumers to have a better understanding of the sourcing and environmental impact of the product. The tool in of itself does not solve the problem but facilitates the transition to a circular model that will reduce waste, encourage re-use and recycling of materials, and lessen the environmental impact of textile production.

 Stakeholders

  • Apparel industry
  • Textile manufacturers
  • Clothing retailers
  • Suppliers
  • Consumers
  • Governments (Dutch aWEARness has partnered with the European Commission’s Eco-Innovation program)
  • NGOs and activists
  • Software developer, Improvement IT

Technology Implementation

The platform is leased using a subscription-based model and training and maintenance is provided. Potential challenges are scaleability and cost. The data tracked is based on input provided by the user so accuracy of data input would be crucial to the tool’s performance.

Sources:

http://www.circularchainsystem.com/

http://www.weardonaterecycle.org/

http://www.dutchawearness.nl/

 

http://www.sustainablebrands.com/news_and_views/ict_big_data/hannah_furlong/new_track_trace_tool_enables_transparent_circular_supply?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=innovation&utm_campaign=jun15&mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTlRFeVpURmpaR1JoTm1JNSIsInQiOiJVSjlTVEIxcEZpd2VwTndSRHJvbTlvQWV0RUJ4dnRnREpiUmhrQ2U3a3ZHb1wvMXFubmxjbWpraHFhcUNaa1dTOFwvOCs1RDhITVNxdUpLaFJ1Zm91NDljcXpTVnM5b3AxbHU0VXI0ZDZwcXR3PSJ9http://www.circularchainsystem.com/http://www.weardonaterecycle.org/http://www.dutchawearness.nl/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Impossible Foods: Plant-based burgers with taste and texture of the real thing

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Sustainability Problem:

Animal agriculture contributes to nearly ⅕ of all GHG emissions worldwide and beef production is considered the worst offender when it comes to its environmental impact. A 2014 study found that compared to pork or chicken, beef production requires 28x more land use, 11x more water use and produces 5x more GHG emissions. Cutting back or eliminating beef consumption would have a positive environmental impact. However, many people enjoy the taste of beef and aren’t interested in pursuing a completely meat-free or plant-based lifestyle. The current plant-based meat substitutes in the marketplace, do not replace the void of a “real” burger when it comes to taste and texture.

Technology:

Impossible Foods aimed to create plant-based meat and dairy products that have the taste and texture of real animal-based products that are healthier for the consumer and are less harmful to the planet using less energy, water and other resources compared to animal products. Over three years of research into what makes the process of cooking and eating meat so unique led to the discovery of the molecule heme which gives meat its distinct taste and smell. This molecule is also found in plants and therefore Impossible Foods set out to develop the right combination of plant-based ingredients on a molecular level to mimic the taste and texture of a real beef burger. Operated as a tech firm and not a typical food company, Impossible Foods is based in Redwood City, CA was founded by Stanford biochemist Pat Brown whose premise is that food production is reliant on technology. Impossible Foods has raised $182 million and received a $300 million buyout offer from Google, which they passed on.

Technology Stakeholders:

  • Chefs, restaurateurs, food retailers
  • Consumers of beef burgers
  • Scientists
  • Engineers
  • Farmers
  • Investors

Technology Implementation:

Impossible Foods plans to officially launch their first product the Impossible Burger in July 2016 in select restaurants in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and NYC. They are currently partnering with select chefs to gain awareness and interest in the food space and have held tastings at tech conferences such as Code Conference. Future expansion plans include plant-based dairy products. To better address the sustainability problem of beef consumption, Impossible Foods should scale production to have products in retail markets with a wider U.S. or even worldwide distribution.

Update August 10, 2016: The Impossible Burger is now available in NYC at Momofuku Nishi. https://nishi.momofuku.com/

I tried it today and was impressed. As a former burger-lover who went plant-based earlier this year, it did fill a void. It did taste like a beef burger and I would probably try it again.

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Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jun/02/impossible-foods-plant-burger-taste-test

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/21/beef-environmental-impact_n_5599370.html

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/21/giving-up-beef-reduce-carbon-footprint-more-than-cars

http://www.gfi.org/impossible-foods-launches-the-impossible

http://www.economist.com/news/technology-quarterly/21645497-tech-startups-are-moving-food-business-make-sustainable-versions-meat

http://www.impossiblefoods.com/

 

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