Sustainable Problem: Waste

According to Time magazine, Americans throw away an estimated trillion disposable plates and utensils per year.


  • Brand Name: Leaf Republic
  • Focus on food packaging and one-way dishes
  • Claim: outdoor tableware has to be fully renewable and fully biodegradable.
  • Packaging products consist of a lid made from bioplastic or recycled plastic and a three-layer natural bowl made of
    • Leaves
    • water-proof leaf-made paper
    • Leaves


  • No synthetic additives, no coloring, no glue – and no tree has been cut! Additionally, the bowl is biodegradable in only 28 days.
  • These actions lead to building up a sustainable, social, gainful company


  • Leaf Republic
  • Their Partners such as: Vivas.bio, Bird&Bird, Dachser, Infiana, Makerspace, LMU, Illig, Stoeger, Huber+Suhner, Steuerkanzlei Kisslinger-Popp
  • Institutions or Companies to use the products
  • Community


  • Fund the project to obtain more pressing machinery
  • Find local sources needed for leaves
  • Obtain contracts with universities and/or companies
  • Get community involved, maybe gather the leaves
  • Marketing Campaign



Comments to Off grid solar powered water device – Zero Mass Water by JV2610

  • A unit with one solar panel, the company says, can produce two to five liters of liquid a day, which is stored in a 30-liter reservoir that adds calcium and magnesium for health and taste. This seems very energy efficient and seems to be able to store a pretty good amount. The addition of electrolytes is even more interesting and beneficial for health.

UNI:  AV2698


Longer Lasting Produce!


  1. Sustainability Issue (Waste):

Over 30% of produce harvested is never consumed and every year, almost $30 billion worth, or 25 billion pounds, of fruits and vegetables are wasted. This happens even though there are about 42 million people who don’t have enough to eat in just the U.S. alone. Wasted produce also means that all the time, energy, money, and water put into cultivating it is also wasted. However, it is hard to avoid this problem because there are so many steps between the growth and consumption of produce.


  1. Summary of Technology (Hazel Technologies):
  • FruitBrite and BerryBrite are essentially biodegradable and non-toxic packaging inserts that fit into fruit containers and emit ingredients to keep produce from spoiling without having to spray on any additional chemicals
  • The inserts allow the produce to last longer, which also means that the produce can have a greater range of area where they can be transported to and sold in before spoiling
  • FruitBrite is a time-release sachet that contains an ethylene blocker (ethylene is the gas given off by some fruits that speed up the ripening process)
  • FruitBrite can extend produce’s lifespan by 2-3 weeks and has been tested on various produces including apples, asparagus, broccoli, cherries, tomatoes, etc.
  • BerryBrite delivers controlled dose of a blend of natural essential oils that inhibit the growth of bacteria, fungi, and molds in berries
  • BerryBrite extends the shelf life of berries by up to 3x, reduces disease and rot by up to 90%, and improves post-harvest firmness by up to 2x



  1. Stakeholders 
  •  Farmers
  • Supermarkets
  • Produce transportation companies
  • End consumers


  1. Next Steps
  • Work with large farms to incorporate FruitBrite and BerryBrite into their packaging product that can be used to store fruit and produce after picking
  • After driving adoption by farmers, introduce to supermarkets to be used for backroom storage
  • Once adopted by both farmers and supermarkets, introduce to transport companies as a way to provide farm to store consistency in packaging and storage


UNI – LC3291
Fall 2017 – Week 4


A Building itself can be a power plant by waste-generated tech

1: Sustainability Problem

Area of sustainability category: Waste

Wherever you find humans, you find waste. And humans never run out of waste.  In the future, the majority of humans will live in megacities if we do not take any effective action to deal with the waste. To solve this problem, we should try to answer these questions that could we find a better way to handle the waste? Can we make waste decentralized and have it back at the building level so that nothing’s moving off-site?

2: Technology

  • SEaB energy offers a closed-loop system that essentially turns a neighborhood or business into its own power plant
  • SEaB makes waste decentralized and have it back at the building level so that nothings moving off-site
  • SEaB energy provides solutions that can eliminate a large amount of what would otherwise be thrown or flushed away and instead use the decomposition process to produce biogas that is converted into electricity

3: Stakeholders

  • Housing development
  • commercial stores such as supermarkets, restaurants which promise to generate a certain huge amount of waste every day
  • Government which aims to build a green, smart and sustainable cities

4: Process of implementation

  • Improve the technology to reach 100% energy re-production
  • publish reports on environmental-consciousness media to show the efficiency of this technology and arise the professionals’ interests
  • Attend the real estate conference to promote this technology



Comment on “Smart Yarn”: https://makeasmartcity.com/2017/10/09/smart-yarn/

In the article, it also mentioned that the yarn could also incorporate with a Bluetooth transmitter critical information and transmit the information to the headquarter instantly. With the development of technology, we may expect more advanced IoTs added into this smart fabric.

AI and the Future of Waste Management

Sustainability Problem: Waste

The EPA estimated that Americans produced more than 254 million tons of waste in just 2013 alone.  Our current solutions in tackling this problem have been lackluster to say the least.  We either dump this waste into our 2000 active landfills, ship it to China, or the best option thus far…we recycle.  While recycling is a huge player in curbing landfill waste (87 million tons diverted in 2013), it’s important to note that it is a business.  If operating costs are too high for waste management companies, then the financial incentive to keep running these facilities drops, putting us right back to our dirty, rotten, methane producing square one.

Sustainability Technology: Artificial Intelligence Waste Sorter (ZenRobotics)

The only way to increase efficiency within the recycling facilities is to take advantage of smart technology, which means we need robots.  And not just any old robots, but ones that utilize artificial intelligence to sort through the variety of waste we produce.

The ZenRobotics Recycler is the world’s first AI powered robotics waste sorting system.  The beauty of this technology is that it’s faster, more flexible, and thus cost-efficient.  The machine has two arms (more can be added) and can pick up 4,000 pieces of waste per hour.  It works around the clock and provides 98% accuracy in sorting which makes it more reliable than its human colleague.

It can accomplish such a gargantuan task thanks to accurate sensors and smart software.  These two characteristics bring tremendous flexibility to the machine, allowing it to sort through various shapes/size, metals, different types of woods/minerals, plastics, and cardboard.  Additionally, it can be trained to identify new types of waste which is a huge plus especially when the market demand for certain materials is high.

Expenses are mitigated since the machine requires less energy, low levels of pre-processing, and little maintenance to function.  Labor, incineration, and landfill costs also drop, allowing the company to earn more profits which can be funneled into additional effective/efficient investments.  It also comes with measuring and monitoring capabilities which give companies the ability control and optimize their production.  Finally, since this innovation is scalable, it’s possible to install the machine closer to the source, reducing transportation time and costs.

Another plus is that due to its single-stream process, city residents will no longer need to pre-sort their recyclables and cities will be able to handle the commingled trash in an easier fashion.  It’s likely that recycling participation rates will go up if less efforts are required by city residents.

“These Maps Show How Many Landfills There Are In The U.S.” Fast Company, 8/19/2016, https://www.fastcompany.com/3062853/these-maps-show-how-much-of-the-us-is-covered-in-landfills
“Municipal Solid Waste” EPA, 3/29/2016 –https://archive.epa.gov/epawaste/nonhaz/municipal/web/html/
 Zenrobotics – Company website  – https://zenrobotics.com/


  • Waste management facilities looking for cost-effective solutions
  • Cities that want to meet their eco-goals and reduce waste disposal costs
  • Large companies striving to have zero-waste production facilities
  • Consumers who want to decrease their environmental footprint

Technology Implementation & Distribution:

Bring awareness and demonstrate the technology to potential waste management companies by leveraging real use cases of ZenRobotics from around the world (Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Japan, US).

Engage with civic officials to showcase the potential for this innovation and provide a cost-benefit analysis to depict not only the environmental advantages but also the financial benefits for their city.

Ensure that the company can meet implementation demands in a seamless fashion and keep up communication with clients so feedback is received in a timely manner, allowing for software/hardware adjustments to be made fairly quickly.

Comment on the Extinguish Fire with Low Frequency Sound Waves blog:

What a great idea!  This technology can also be used by homeowners/renters to fight small house fires before they become very destructive/uncontrollable.  Financial losses will be significantly mitigated as fires can be constrained fairly quickly.  Water damage/ water use will also decrease since the resource will no longer be the only option to combat fires.  Should this innovation prove its worth and can be successfully commercialized, there are a plethora of benefits to many different stakeholders apart from the obvious ones.

“BOSSNETT” – The Automatic Underground Waste System


1. Area of sustainability: Waste

2. About the technology

  • In our society, and especially on Manhattan, the city waste system has a massive room for improvement. Every day new waste from residents in the city fill up waste containers or bags are left lying around in the streets waiting for the garbage trucks to come and pick it up.
  • Garbage trucks have to maneuver through narrow streets while the streets are smelly and rats have a field day eating all the discarded food. What if the issues of garbage trucks, smelly waste in the streets, and rats could be removed just by using modern technology?
  • This is what the government owned garbage company BIR in Bergen, Norway has found a suitable solution to. Bergen is a city with narrow streets and garbage was known to be overflowing the few waste containers there was in the streets and it was not a pretty sight. The new technology, named “Bossnett”, lets residents throw their trash into garbage tubes all around the city, where the trash drops into an underground pipe system and is vacuumed into a greater storage unit in the outskirts of the city which is regularly emptied. No need for garbage trucks driving around in the city, no smelly trash along the pathways, and rats have to go elsewhere to find their meal for the day. In addition, it will make it easier for people to recycle using the different tubes. This could be a good solution for many cities in the world.

bir bossnett

3. Stakeholders in the new technology

  • The main users of the trash network, i.e. the residents of the city.
  • The management of the garbage facility
  • Manufacturers of the pipe network
  • Manufacturers of the above-ground tubes


4. Deployment

  • Market the new technology to the population as something positive and make the residents excited to use it.
  • Creating enough garbage tubes around the city to make it easy for everyone to dispose of their trash.
  • Implement a simple and sustainable recycling plan, so that every part of the waste that can be reused will be reused.


Main article:

“NYC, check out a Norwegian solution to waste disposal”, Terje Strøm, March 31st 2016, Retrieved Sept. 20th 2017 from:  http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20160331/OPINION/160339996/nyc-check-out-a-norwegian-solution-to-waste-disposal

Supporting articles:

“BOSSNETT”, Bergen Automatic Underground Waste System: http://www.razemdlaklimatu.eu/images/dobre_praktyki/Bergen_Waste_system.pdf

Envac Automated Waste Collection Secures National Energy Globe Award for Bergen: https://waste-management-world.com/a/envac-automated-waste-collection-secures-national-energy-globe-award-for-bergen

Image sources:



UNI: ms5584


Edit: Sept. 28th 2017 as instructed by the professor, this is the comment I posted on this blogpost on Sept 21st. https://makeasmartcity.com/2017/09/21/smarter-street-lighting/

“This is a great idea. A problem in many big cities are that they are not able to maintain and repair the lights that go out fast enough. And many areas are left dark in the night over a long period of time. This can be unsafe for pedestrians, and having a more illuminated street also helps with the feeling of safety. This is also a positive side effect with this technology.”

Composting with Style

Sustainability Problem: Food Waste

The US discards ~40% of its food supply every year!  While this is a clear waste of money, natural resources (water, energy, land) and time, there is another detrimental consequence to this issue.  The thrown-out organic waste eventually ends up in landfills where toxic methane gas (CH4) is released as the food breaks down among non-biodegradable trash, adding to global warming crisis.

Sustainability Technology: Whirlpool’s Zera Food Recycler – Quicker & Convenient Composting

Whirlpool has developed a unique appliance called the Zera Food Recycler, which is basically a modern composting machine.  It has the capability to process 8 lbs. of food/food scraps into 2 lbs. of fertilizer within just 24 hours.

Zera uses a rotating, cylindrical blade which breaks the food down bringing forth valuable nutrients for plat growth, its heating and drying functions help remove access moisture, and coconut husks and baking soda are used at the end to thicken the mixture while also reducing the acidity of the end-product.

The homemade fertilizer can be used in home gardens and/or collected by the city/communities to distribute to local farms/city parks/gardens etc.  A point of note is that while the fertilizer is not 100% compost material, it finishes up the composting process after spending 3-4 weeks outside.

The beauty of this appliance is that many issues with traditional composting (i.e. processing time, sorting organic material, and more importantly odors) are virtually non-existent.  It can accommodate ~95% of all organic food waste including meat.  And most importantly it provides the convenience of not having to collect and store organic waste, which is a huge positive factor in convincing consumers to close the food loop.

“Whirlpool wants you to trash your old composting methods and buy a fancy food recycler” Popular Science, 3/6/2017, Eleanor Cummins 
“This new gadget promises to transform food scraps into fertilizer in 24 hours” Treehugger, 11/16/2016, Derek Markham
“A NEW NRDC REPORT SHOWS THAT AMERICA WASTES 40% OF ITS FOOD” Sustainable America, 10/1/2012, Nicole Rogers


  • All global/domestic consumers looking to reduce their impact on the planet
  • Gardeners and Farmers looking to increase the health of their soil
  • Civic governments looking to drastically reduce waste transportation costs
  • Communities that are strengthened through a single social/environmental goal

Technology Implementation & Distribution:

Bring awareness to the target consumers about the consequences of food waste through media and marketing outlets, showing them the importance and benefits of curbing organic refuse and closing the food loop.

Deploy the appliance in select cities/areas for consumer testing, before a full nationwide distribution is attempted (Current test cities are Chicago, Austin, and San Francisco).

Use feedback from initial customer reactions to enhance and/or customize the product for efficient household use, and ultimately reduce the purchasing cost to make it accessible to more consumers.

By: Bhoomi Shah  , Columbia UNI: brs2147


In response to Riya’s Transparent Solar Spray Transforms Windows into Watts post:

In addition to increasing the surface area for solar energy absorption, this technology also enhances the efficiency of current silicon solar panels. The film can be sprayed directly on top of an existing silicon solar cell, and since utilizes the blue and green part of the sunlight better than silicon, it theoretically improves the solar cell’s energy production by an additional 5%.


Biodegradable Eco-bags

  1. Sustainability Problem: Waste is a recurring problem that has persisted through decades of innovation towards unnatural manufacturing and processes. Delving deeper, plastic waste is a big issue because they do not degrade easily. It can take hundreds of years for plastic to break down. With an estimated worldwide consumption of 1 trillion plastic bags every year, a better solution is needed.
  2. AVANI Bio-Cassava Bag could be the solution:
    • 100% biodegradable, compostable and disposable – degrades within 90 days
    • Made from cassava starch and all-natural resins, 100% renewable – contains no conventional plastic
    • Safe for consumption – dissolves in lukewarm water
    • Can be recycled along with paper
    • Durable – look, feel and perform like plastic




Plastic you can drink: A solution for pollution? | CNN


Cassava carrier bags: Indonesian entrepreneur tackles plastic scourge



  1. Stakeholders:
    • Supermarkets, grocery shops
    • Retailers
    • Hospitality industries
    • Food & Beverage industries
    • Consumers all over the world
    • Waste Management Facilities
  2. Next steps:
    • Invest more on advertising and outreach
    • Mass production could be a significant progress
    • Innovate further by introducing new products/alternatives and concepts


By: Timothy Wiranata

Columbia UNI: tw2618