A Bay Area Startup Spins Lab-Grown Silk


silk1. Sustainability Problem: Climate Change (Carbon Intensity of Production) 

The apparel industry is one of the most unsustainable in the world, requiring heavy use of raw materials (water, land,etc.) and chemicals (dyes, coatings, finishes) , while also generating excessive waste because clothes are not made to be recycled. The production of polyester, a fabric made from petroleum/plastic, has increased almost sixfold from 1980 to 2007, and is incredibly carbon intensive.

 2. Solution

  • Bolt Threads, a startup out of the University of California San Francisco, studied spiders to understand how they produce webs, and has essentially used bio-mimicry to develop a newer, more sustainable way of producing fabric.
  • The main input is sugar from plants that are grown, harvested, and replanted. They have the same chemistry as silk from spiders/silkworms, but are man made
  • They studied silk proteins found in nature, develop proteins inspired by the natural silks by putting genes into yeast, and then produce the proteins in large quantities through fermentation. Bolt then takes the silk proteins and spins it into fibers, and the fibers into fabrics and garments

 3. Stakeholders

  • Bolt Threads
  • Investors
  • Manufacturer & procurement partners
  • 3rd party fabric users

 4 .Implementation Steps

  • Understand clothing pieces (i.e. athletic-wear, mens suits, etc?) that will be the most natural fit for this fabric
  • Produce the garments, set up direct to consumer marketplace
  • Partner with companies trying to be more sustainable who are interested in using fabric at a larger scale





Comment on: World’s First 100% Compostable Water Bottle, Cap, & Label | This is a good innovation that can help the situation we are in. The bottle  technology has been around for a little while, the but company needed to develop the cap, as that was a roadblock for many industrial composters to start accepting the item.

As a frequent composter, I would like to know more about how the company expects to differentiate these bottles from others that are green – i.e Sprite, as to  not confuse those who are not careful about where they put their trash. Additionally, would be great to understand the ideal compost conditions for the 85 day compost time. If we start to get more and more ‘plastics’ and less organics in the compost, will that increase?




Seabin: A Garbage Can for the Ocean



Sustainability Problem: (Ocean) Waste

More than 8M tons of plastic are dumped in our oceans every year, and some people estimate that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. The world’s reliance on plastic does not seem to be shrinking, so this problem will continue to exists as about 50% of plastic is used just once and thrown away.

Summary of Technology

  • The ‘Seabin” is essentially an in water garbage can, intended to gather floating debris polluting  marinas, yacht clubs, ports and any water body with a calm environment
  • There is a small motor at the bottom of the bin that sucks the water in through the mesh, catching debris on the way; the 110/220V pump can be operated by ‘solar, wind, wave or turbine depending on the location, current technology and services available’
  • It is estimated to ‘catch’ 1.5KG of debris per day, but can hold up to 12KG; additionally it can collect/absorb a small amount of oil from the water, which will increase as the technology improves.
  • Seabin is available for about $4000, and is being implemented in Finland, the UK, and Spain


  • Seabin R&D, product development team
  • Seabin sales, marketing, and business development team
  • Vendors
  • Potential customers/ buyers
  • Investors (originally funded via IndieGoGo) 

Implementation Steps

  • Continue business development, deploy and sell new Seabins product worldwide
  • Fundraise for necessary capital
  • Test more effective technology, and continue product development steps


UNI – JM4202

The Compost Professor: A Smart Composting System


 1. Sustainability Problem: Waste

Food waste makes up 20 to 30% of our waste, and leads to powerful greenhouse gas emissions when landfilled. Homeowners don’t compost for a variety of reasons – not knowing how, what to include, benefits of compost, and general lack of interest.

 2. Summary of Technology

  • The “Compost Professor” aims to help homeowners out by providing insight into their compost detected by a combination of  sensors, artificial intelligence, and analytics
  • The tool is made of three parts:
    • Compost Unit – a large tumbler where raw compost goes, usually placed outside. It has sensors which help it know when to take automatic, proactive actions such as increasing hydration or air flow
    • Base Unit -Analyses the data, communicates the information from the sensors to the cloud
    • Kitchen Handheld Unit – small device intended to be in a kitchen that tells the homeowner when to increase types of ingredients, change the batteries, etc.  It will also indicate when the compost is ready for use
  • This tool will likely not convince people to start composting, but it will help people who are trying to compost get to an end product in a more effective way


 3. Stakeholders

  • Inventor, owner 
  • Potential Users – nurseries, cities, homeowners, gardeners
  • Potential retailes
  • Manufacturer of all component parts

 4. Implementation Steps

  • Define Target Market- this is a specific product with a niche market
  • Develop sales and distribution plans with brick and mortar and online retailers
  • Advertise, gather feedback, and iterate


In response to: Ocean Cleanup

The fact that this system is constantly moving, or “drifting” helps the amount of matter that it can collect. In “fixed” or no moving barrier systems, the downward strength of the water after hitting the barrier is strong, and therefore pushes the matter underneath the barrier to the other side, not capturing it. It would be good to understand if they are planning to deploy a net that can capture microplastics, as there are billions of these in the oceans, and these nets can only capture particles larger than 1 cm. While not as visible as much of the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, microplastics are becoming a large problem quickly.


How 3D Printing Can Revolutionize Sustainable Design


 3d printer

 1. Sustainability Problem Area: Waste, Climate (Transportation Emissions)


Traditional retail models involve manufacturers producing goods in large quantities, shipping them across the world to retailer distribution hubs, who then must allocate them as accurately as possible to then stores or directly to consumers. Often this allocation is imperfect, causing excess inventory in the wrong places,  and therefore salvaged or discarded product, not to mention thousands of miles traveled by sea, rail, road, or air to reach a final destination.

 2. Summary of Technology 

  • 3D, or three dimensional printing (also known as additive manufacturing)  has the potential to transform how consumers order and receive everyday products
  • If 3D printers were available in convenient locations, consumers could purchase the 3D model of their desired object, and then go to the printer for immediate  “delivery” without the emissions from packaging or transportation
  • 3D printers commonly use thermoplastics (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene -ABS, and polylactic acid-PLA), that are warmed to be molded, and then harden when cooled. PLA is derived from sugar, so can be made from corn. When someone is done with their item, it can be re-melted in another item once or twice.
  • Makerbot is a company producing a 3D printer with design software.  It works by using FDM or (Fused Deposition Modeling) to precisely extrude hot plastic filament out of a glue gun type nozzle in specific shapes and layers, creating desired objects. The nozzle knows where to go based on a cartesian coordinate system, fed directions by the software

 3. Stakeholders

  • Consumers
  • Retailers, convenience stores
  • 3D printing companies
    • Marketing, partnership teams
    • Product development and design teams
    • Software developers

 4. Deploying the Technology

  • Build a catalog | To become mainstream, Makerbot would need to develop a catalog of helpful/common/ widely used items available to print from their machines. They could even partner with brands directly to develop 3D printable products that consumers could order and print on the spot, and even customize them
  • Grow their footprint | Partner with convenience stores or established retailers to deploy a “RedBox” type availability/footprint, placing their machine somewhere with high foot traffic
  • Get the word out | Advertise unique capabilities to consumers, potentially those in remote areas that have low access to retailers


UNI: JM4202

Comment on other post – Vertical Farming in Indonesia |  In the first year, farmers will be limited to easy-to-maintain crops, such as cabbage, spinach and tomatoes. After that, they can expand to other types of crops. Each farmer can earn an average of 3 million RP from a 6×6 meter square.

Browser Extension technology used for flagging sustainability issues



 1. Sustainability Problem Area: Social/Engagement/Transparency

It is difficult for online shoppers to learn about the sustainability aspects of products they buy. Mainstream retailers do not often disclose helpful information, and consumers need to spend time investigating brands and products to be well informed.  

 2. Summary

    • Impakt, an “ethical shopping” extension, hopes to bring this common browser technology,  also used by ebates (reward for online shopping), Honey (coupon finder), and Amazon (price & product finder), to the world of social responsibility
    • The Impakt extension uses algorithmic machine learning to access public information such as government data, industry studies, and university or NGO reports
    • It then will flag those products and companies that  exploit child labor or climate change (just 2 examples), and recommend alternative products that may match user preferences better  (and be more sustainable)
    • Impakt can be used on both retailer websites (Amazon, Macy’s, Best Buy) as well as company websites (H&M, Sephora).

Source: https://dailytrojan.com/2017/10/05/alumni-cofounds-ethical-shopping-browser-extension/ 

 3. Stakeholders

  • Impakt Team
  • Retailers
  • Brands
  • Consumers

 4. Deploying the Technology

  • Impakt will need to  grow their user base via marketing or word of mouth to spread the word about their service
  • Impackt will need to build relationships with brands and retailers, so that they do not figure out a way to block the extension because of information they do not want to share with their supplier
  • Impackt could work to make their information more specific, so that not just entire brands (e.x: H&M), and partner with companies to help them tell sustainability stories.

UNI- JM4202

Comment: The power reserve for the “e-dumper” is 600kWh, as much as an average home in the Mid-Atlantic US uses in a month. In one day, the truck can generate 200kWh of energy from 20 round trips. What happens, however, if this truck isn’t’ going downhill everyday, and can’t generate energy from breaking?

Do we need people to audit factories?



1. Sustainability Problem Area: Social  

Many companies, especially retailers or CPGs,  today rely on social audits to understand working conditions in factories all along their supply chain. Typically, these audits are done in person, are time consuming, and can distract from everyday business at factories. Additionally, these audits can sometimes be inefficient and expensive,, as auditors may travel a long distance to check to see if one thing has been fixed.

 2.  Technology Summary

    1. Verifying specific issues (think: smoke alarm/fire detection system installation)  remotely, through a combination of precision GNSS/GPS technology and fraud detection software for photography, could allow companies to check in on their supply chain (for specific issues) without sending an auditor
    2. NovAtel makes receivers with strong signal availability that can provide centimeter level location accuracy; these receivers can work  well in buildings, and would likely be able to pinpoint exactly where and when photos (of issues at factories) were taken.
    3. Photographs taken (with time and location stamp) can be run through fraud detection software, similar to Izitru, whose cloud based API will run a forensic test on an JPEG image in seconds, and produce a trust rating along with other data.
    4. Combining data from an initial site visit done by an auditor to issue/location/imagery that has been validated via precision GPS and verified photography at a later time may eliminate the need for additional audits, and the incurred time/cost/disruption


 3. Org Stakeholders

    1. Companies measuring social issues in their supply chain 
      • Social Responsibility team
      • Technology integration teams
      • Sourcing/Procurement teams
    2. Factory Management
    3. NovAtel and Izitru
    4. Initial site visit auditing companies

 4. Deploying the Technology

  1. Companies measuring CSR  would need to determine comfort level with this type of remote/tech-based information gathering and potential issue verification.
  2. Next, would need to partner with their contract audit firms and factories to capture issues via photography that have precision time/location stamps
  3. Then they would need to develop a mechanism that could compare data, along with the trust score/ location information to determine whether or not issues have been fixed.

UNI – JM4202

5. Comment on other article: While the idea of transforming carbon into plastic sounds like it can help solve the global climate crisis, there is pushback on the actual potential impact of this type of technology. According to atmospheric scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Department of Global Ecology, Ken Caldeira, the process of converting oxidized CO2 to reduced carbon requires so much combustion that it erases the benefit to the environment.

Cambond and their game-changing green glue

cambond photo 1. Sustainability Issue: Waste/ Health

Most of the adhesives used today can be damaging to human health and the environment, as they are highly toxic, and require a carbon intensive  production process. They are often made from petroleum based materials derived from crude oil and dissolved in solvents that can emit powerful greenhouse gasses.

2. Summary of Technology 

    • Cambond, a startup based out of Cambridge, UK, has developed a “green glue”, an adhesive made from biomass such as algae and co-products from the production of ethanol
    • Plant extracts are a good ingredient in this case because they are naturally really sticky
    • The original intent was for the glue to be used for wood panels,  but it also has potential to be used in the medical field to repair tissues as it is quite water resistant.
    • Additionally, the glue can be mixed with biomass, like straw, to form a substitution for plastic or wood  
    • It is possible to use this technology in existing molding machinery, lowering the barrier to entry for expanded business opportunities

http://climatelaunchpad.org/cambond-game-changing-green-glue http://cambond.co.uk/technologies/

 3. Stakeholders 

    • Cambond Research & development team
    • Cambond Business Development/ Sales and Marketing 
    • Cambond Factory Production manager
    • Cambond procurement, raw materials sourcing
    • Future Cambond clients
    • External raw materials providers, biomass waste companies

4. Deployment Next Steps

    • Identify new business partners, users for the raw glue technology
    • Develop and research new products (similar to wood pallets)
    • Understand implementation requirements, volume, costing

UNI -JM4202
Fall 2017 – Week 2

DNA Tagging Could Improve Traceability in the Global Cotton Supply Chain

pic cotton 1

Sustainability Problem: Civic Engagement

  1. Cotton is a fiber with severe social and environmental sustainability issues associated with production. These issues include slavery, suicide,  soil degradation, and adverse health effects and poor water quality from fertilizer and pesticides. It is incredibly difficult for cotton buyers to understand where exactly the raw material is coming from, and influence practices through responsible sourcing.  
  2.  Solution
    • PimaCott, a branch of an international cotton supplier, has partnered with Applied DNA Sciences, a U.S. tech firm to develop DNA tagging for cotton molecules
    • The tagging applied to molecules during the ginning phase with a tiny marker that acts as a barcode
    • The tag allows the cotton to be identified as a specific type, or from a specific place. It will help show that high quality cotton has not been blended with lower quality cotton
    • Being able to trace cotton back further in the supply chain can allow for more accountability on the part of retailers, and seed and fertilizer producers
  3. Stakeholders
    • PimaCott
    • Cotton gin manager
    • Buying/ sourcing manager
    • Consumers
  4. If this technology were to be implemented by a vertically integrated apparel company:
    • Gain buy-in from sourcing/buying team/leadership (potential upcharge, time delay, etc.)
    • Connect with PimaCott to secure use of technology, sign contract
    • Scope and develop implementation plan at cotton gin




UNI- JM4202