Tech for Good: 5 eco-innovations saving the planet
The eco-tech and startups helping to make the world more sustainable, not less
Despite everything we are told about by experts of the harm our carbon footprint is having on the environment, the damage is proliferating – almost out of control. Still, sustainability just isn’t a priority for many of the biggest corporations out there, with the latest technologies simply adding to the problem. While many of today’s large scale organisations cite being environmentally friendly as a bonus “perk”, rarely, it’s not the driving force behind development.
However, things are improving. We’re more mindful when it comes to the environment, and thus more conscious of being “eco” than ever before. An increasing raft of startup tech firms are taking note of the issues of global warming, sustainability and the negative effects of modern lifestyle is having on the planet, and many are looking to try and solve it.
Here are some of the companies currently using cutting edge innovation in an attempt to undo — or at least limit — the damage we’ve inflicted upon the world and kickstart a more sustainable way of living.
This start-up employs an industrialised process to recycle waste coffee grounds into advanced biofuels. This is done through a variety of complex processes to turn them into useful and highly calorific materials, eliminating the need to burn imported, expensive and dirty wood and coal. It’s latest biofuel technology, Coffee Logs, are biomass briquettes that are a clean, cheap, local and sustainable alternative to imported fuels often burning hotter and for longer than conventional fuels. They can be used in wood-fired stoves, pizza ovens, or smoking ovens as well as outdoor heating, and could potentially save you a fortune.
This start-up specialises in floor tiles developed with a technology that means the tiles can convert kinetic energy from human footfall into low-voltage renewable electricity. As passers by walk across the Pavegen system, the weight from their footsteps causes generators to vertically displace and, as a result of this radial motion, creates energy through electromagnetic induction. The start-up’s aim is to connect and empower communities across the globe, using the power of footsteps to contribute to a greater environmental goal.
Addressing the issue of food waste by harnessing the power of insects, Entomics was co-founded by four Cambridge University graduates. It converts food waste into three sustainable fuels for plants, animals and vehicles and most importantly, reduce the amount of the food which is going into landfills. To achieve this, it makes use of the Black Soldier Fly, which has the ability to efficiently convert organic waste into fats and proteins inside their bodies. These compounds can then be used to produce a nutritional supplement for livestock and what is leftover makes a specially good fertiliser or biopesticide.
Recycling the unrecyclable, Plastic Energy uses new tech to transform non-recyclable plastic waste into hydrocarbon products and back into plastic in a bid to transition us into a low-carbon circular economy. The company uses a patented chemical recycling process called Thermal Anaerobic Conversion (TAC), which converts non-recyclable, contaminated “End of Life Plastics” such as plastic bags and milk bottles – that would otherwise end up in landfill – into oil, or back into virgin plastic. The startup says that this conversion could prevent plastic pollution and save up to $300billion (or £235bn)-worth of plastic dumped in landfills each year.
This is a startup with an intention to generate green energy by placing specially designed windmills by the side of the runways, highways, metro tracks and motorways. Designed as a combo product with integrated solar panels, they harvest the air movement of the passing by traffic as well as the solar energy and are able to generate green energy 24/7. A small device E-tree is also installed within the windmills which is able to purify the smoky air on roads. Costing around £200 a pop, the turbines are able to produce around 300watts each, which is 90 percent efficient and way more competitive than the typical solar or wind products, according to the firm.