Low-Tech Solution for High-Profile SDG (Water Scarcity)

CloudFisher fog-harvesters on a mountain

Peter Schott // pcs2144

(1) Sustainability Problem: Water
Per the UN, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) remains one of the world’s most water-scare regions, with 17 countries considered below the water poverty line. Around 1.1M people lack reliable access to water and 2.7M live in regions where water scarcity exists for at least one month of the year.

(2) Water scarcity is an issue – analysts predict that water scarcity may contribute to future conflict in the region.

  • Agriculture comprises of 80% of the water usage in the MENA region; often the cultivation of crops, specifically citrus fruit in rural Morocco, has depleted the natural groundwater reserves and aquifers at a rate faster than replenishment
  • Seawater desalination and dams are the current tools used to address water scarcity in the region, however they come with several negative externalities
  • In Morocco specifically, the NGO Dar Si Hmad has partnered with German WaterFoundation to utilized their CloudFisher fog-harvesters, which use no energy, to collect up to 600L+ of drinking water per day per net*
  • The CloudFisher technology can withstand win speeds up to 120kph while catching water droplets in the air that (often) comply with WHO drinking water standards*

    Article: Can tech advances solve arid Middle East’s water scarcity problem?, Arab News

(3) Stakeholders:
Stakeholders include NGOs that provide local solutions to rural farmers and villages in the MENA region.
An example of this in Morocco is Dar Si Hmad for Development (NGO) connecting the CloudFisher fog-harvesters (local solution) to 16 villages in rural Morocco.
Additionally, Governments and Ministers are stakeholders as “water is the lifeblood of civilizations that shape economies, as said by Reem Al-Hasimy, UAW minister of state.

(4) Deployment/Adoption/Implementation:
Given that the focus of this is to drive end-user (customer) adoption, the below does not contain steps to fix the broader water scarcity problem across MENA; additionally, influencing government will delay broader adoption but is needed to create a robust market.

  • Educate communities and farmers about the importance of water, specifically the importance of protecting water supplies, to help introduce good conservation habits and available technologies
  • Pilot the CloudFisher technology in communities, collecting data around environmental conditions (weather, air temp, etc.), water collected, time spent by community to harvest, etc.; attempt to create a business case as to what the technology actually achieves (is it time saved, money saved, lives saved, etc.)
  • Explore conversations with government to discuss the importance of water scarcity in the MENA region, the success of the pilot program, the impact of international trade on water scarcity; propose a potential export tax through policy that could be used to provide solutions such as CloudFisher to farmer villages, in an effort to provide drinking water

Additional Sources:
*https://www.wasserstiftung.de/en/cloudfisher/

Edible Packaging??

Snact’s 6-month-garden-compostable packaging*

Peter Schott // pcs2144

(1) Sustainability Problem: Waste
Per the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 32% of plastics escape the collection system to urban infrastructure and waterways. 8M tons of plastic are diverted to the oceans annually while after-use externalities and the costs associated with GHGe from plastic packaging production are estimated to be 40B annually (conservative, by UNEP)**. This cost is only expected to increase as volume grows with consumption patterns (business as usual).

(2) Plastics are bad and biodegradable plastics are not necessarily better!!!

  • More sustainable alternatives to plastic, such as biodegradable plastics, are controversial as the ocean environment is not conducive to promote the break down of the materials
  • Snact and Tipa have created packaging that can be composted in a garden in 6 months
  • US Department of Agriculture (USDA) are experimenting with the creation of an edible plastic made from casein (milk protein), which looks promising as it is 60% more effective in reducing foods exposure to oxygen; there is potential to add flavors and/or nutrients to these edible films
  • Packaging materials and waste is part of the problem however the broader waste management system is important to promoting/enabling recycling and composting

    Article: Compostable and edible packaging: the companies waging war on plastic, The Guardian.com

(3) Stakeholders:
Food & Agriculture companies (Business-to-Business) will remain the main stakeholders with implementing this technology however consumer demand (Business-to-Consumer) will be a key component to driving this adoption as these sustainable packing alternatives are more expensive than traditional plastic.
Other stakeholders include policymakers to overcome the challenges to remove traditional plastics from the waste stream (and drive adoption of alternatives) and industry associations/NGOs to foster relationships and the implementation of pilot programs.

(4) Deployment/Adoption/Implementation:
Given that the focus of this is to drive end-user (customer) adoption/deploy this technology, the below does not contain steps to fix the broader re-processing infrastructure

  • Support research that attempts to investigate the economic, environmental and social benefits of sustainable packaging materials to identify adjacent sector synergies; use these insights to build an evidence-based business case for the technologies
  • Use the business case to steer investment towards funding R&D of plastic material alternatives (see video below) to expedite a vetted packaging product that is less destructive and more effective than plastics
  • Collaborate with Industry Associations/NGOs to pilot products B2B and B2C, to test user adoption, so that the pilots can be scaled and further investment reduces the cost gap between the manufacturing of traditional plastic packaging and the edible, biodegradable food packaging alternatives
Cool video

Sources (in addition to article linked above):

*https://tipa-corp.com/blog/snact-found-way-disposable-without-causing-environmental-damage/


**https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/assets/downloads/EllenMacArthurFoundation_TheNewPlasticsEconomy_15-3-16.pdf