Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Top Sustainability Focused Innovations of 2015

Innovation is more than a buzzword, it is an absolutely essential component of the required efforts needed to address the environmental and climate crisis we are facing. Here is a summary of some of the best sustainability focused innovations of 2015 from Sustainia.

On December 6th, 2015 the fourth Sustainia awards celebrated a number of groundbreaking sustainability solutions, technologies and projects from around the world. In honor of COP21 the awards took place in Paris, home to the COP21 climate talks.

The Sustania Award Committee is composed of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Honorary Chair of Sustainia, Chair of Regions20 and Former Governor of California; Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC; Connie Hedegaard, Chair, KR Foundation, Former European Commissioner for Climate Action and Dr. Rajendra Pachauri Former Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC.

Sustania's top ten finalists for the most sustainable innovations of 2015 are:

Buildings: Archiblox (Australia) - energy-positive prefabricated houses.
Food: SunCulture (US) - solar-powered drip irrigation for smallholders.
Fashion: Vigga.us (Denmark) - leasing organic kids-wear.
IT: Mapdwell, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) - 3D solar potential mapping tool.
Education: Seoul Metropolitan Government (South Korea) - citizen engagement for voluntary behaviour change.
Energy: Mobisol (Germany) - micro-financed off-grid solar power.
Health: Solar Ear (Brazil) - solar-powered hearing aids with open source design.
Cities: City of Johannesburg (South Africa) - green bonds finance city climate action.

The winner of the 2015 Sustania Award

In 2015 the Sustania Award went to a transportation redesign for the Indian city Chennai. This innovation was created by the Corporation of Chennai, Institute for Transportation & Development Policy and Chennai City Connect Foundation (India). The redesign is focused on creating streets for walking and biking as a solution to the city’s air pollution and traffic casualties.

The solution requires at least 60 per cent of the city’s transport budget to be allocated to a full-scale redesign including expanded footpaths, safe pedestrian crossings, protected cycle tracks, properly scaled carriageways, conveniently placed bus stops and clearly designated on-street parking.

Smart transport adaptations will reduce air pollution which is Chennai’s (and many other cities) top health risk. Given that motorized transport in cities are a leading source of greenhouse gas emissions, this is a solution with far-reaching health and environmental benefits. It is also designed to reduce the 10,000 traffic accidents and resulting deaths and injuries in Chennai.

Sustainia Community Award

The people's choice award known as the Sustainia Community Award went to resources finalist for a project called Social Plastic. It was designed by the: Plastic Bank (Canada) and it turns plastic waste into currency. This innovative solution to resource management offers communities a way to collect waste plastic and repurpose it as a form of currency. While removing plastic waste from the environment, it also gives individuals the chance to improve their livelihoods and encourages companies to purchase and use this recycled material. With as much as 12.7 tons of plastic washes into the ocean every year, this innovation is a way to save all the animals that are killed by plastic each year, it will also help protect human health from the toxins that leach from the plastic into the food chain.

The Plastic Bank (TPB) offers a concrete solution encouraging the behaviour change needed to meet this systemic challenge. Operating as a social enterprise , TPB removes plastic litter from beaches and oceans by offering local communities the opportunity to bring collected waste to a plastic bank facility, where it can be repurposed. In exchange, they receive basic goods and tools, in addition to access to 3D printers enabling them to create items for themselves and to sell within the community. Furthermore, TPB also encourages businesses to take part in the initiative by buying social plastic.

Over 400 people representing more than 70 different countries have already applied to operate a Social Plastic Recycling Market in their region. In 2015, meetings were held at the home offices of Unilever, Seventh Generation, Method Home and various other global brands to discuss the process for the ongoing purchase and promotion of Social Plastic®.. TPB was awarded the Recycling Council of British Columbia’s Innovation Award in May 2014 for developing 3D printing technology. Their open source 3D printing filament extruder can create the source stock for 3D printers using recycled Social Plastic®.

TPB’s Vancouver Lab is successfully producing recycled 3D printable filament for 30 cents per pound. This same filament can be used to create products that are worth $ 5, $ 10 or even $ 100 per pound, according to the organization. Repurposing at scale: Marine plastic waste can wash up on any shore, in any part of the world, as freely as the wind blows and the tides turn.

Click here for the complete list of Sutainia's 100 sustainable innovations for 2015.

Related
2016 Green Business Award Winners
2016 Corporate Sustainability Leaders
Green Business Award Winners in 2016 (Guardian and Environmental Leader)
2015-2016 Awards for Reporting on the Environment (SEJ)
The Best and the Worst Sustainability and Climate Stories in 2015 
2015 Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders 
The Best of Green in 2015: Products, Projects, Leaders, Corporations, CEOs and Chemistry

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