Innovation That Matters

Top 10 ideas from Eco and Sustainability over the last 12 months

Computing & Tech

We've picked out our top ten Eco & Sustainability articles from the last 12 months on Springwise. We hope that the ideas listed below provide entrepreneurs with plenty of fresh inspiration and spark even more innovative efforts in the future.

1. World’s first plastic-free grocery aisle opens in Amsterdam 

Amsterdam has been at the forefront of a number of innovative ideas – the world’s first stock exchange was established in the city in 1602, and in 2016 Amsterdam was the setting for the test of the world’s first driverless passenger bus. Now, British environmental campaign group A Plastic Planet and Dutch supermarket chain Ekoplaza have teamed up to create the world’s first entirely plastic-free supermarket aisle to help shoppers cut down on plastic packaging.

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2. AI solution generates yield prediction for commercial greenhouses

With a global food crisis becoming ever more worrying, we have seen innovation help make farming more efficient. Motorleaf has now taken advantage of cutting-edge technology to provide advances in prediction services for commercial greenhouses. With the belief that technology is proving to be key to a sustainable future for agriculture worldwide, using artificial intelligence and machine learning, Motorleaf have been able to help improve the greenhouses’ predictions and reduce financial loss.

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3. Norwegian hotel in arctic circle produces more energy than it consumes

A dramatic new hotel under construction in Norway will combine high design and high sustainability. The Svart hotel is a collaboration between the architecture firm Snøhetta, Arctic Adventure of Norway, and construction company Powerhouse. The hotel will open in 2021 and will be entirely sustainable, energy efficient and also produce a surplus amount of energy that will be shared with the grid. It will be located at the foot of the Svartisen glacier in northern Norway, just above the Arctic Circle.

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4. Monitoring system protects Brazilian rainforests

With the world’s rainforests in danger, it is unsurprising that innovation has stepped in to try and stall the damage. A non-profit technology startup, Rainforest Connection, wants to save our rainforests and recognises their importance to biodiversity and air quality. They have developed a bio-acoustic monitoring system which uploads rainforest sounds to a platform that can be accessed and shared worldwide. This real-time data helps inform land management, policy changes and resource distribution. By monitoring the sounds of the rainforest, the organisation is also able to pick up on sounds related to poaching.

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5. New modular public toilets can recycle water

San Francisco is introducing new public toilets with modular pods that can be used as information kiosks and also recycle water. Created by architectural firm SmithGroupJJR, the AmeniTree toilets will connect to the city sewer, water and electrical lines and the city intends to use them for the next 20 years.  As well as being a point of information for the public, the city intends the kiosks will offset the costs for the new toilets. They will display advertising and messages to the public from city agencies about relevant events, programs and issues.

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6. Stronger concrete made using waste vegetable

Concrete manufacture is a major source of pollution. The production of Portland cement, a main ingredient in concrete, is estimated to be responsible for up to 8 percent of the total worldwide emission of carbon dioxide. Now, engineers at Lancaster University, along with industrial partners at Cellucomp Ltd, have come up with another method. They have devised a way to strengthen concrete and make it more environmentally friendly by adding extracts from root vegetables.

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7. Town gets its heat from a data centre

A newly designed town in Norway are building a data centre that provides heat to its surrounding buildings. The Lyseparken data centre is the pilot in The Spark project by architecture company Snøhetta and is estimated to be live by 2021. Data centres are traditionally large buildings that are located in remote areas because they occupy a lot of land. However, new designs for smaller data centres are suitable for constructing in urban areas such as cities and towns. As well as enabling faster data transfer, urban data centres are an opportunity to make use of excess heat that these buildings produce.

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  8. A biodegradable textile grown from live organism

A team of students at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, led by assistant professor Theanne Schiros, have developed a method to grow textiles using algae. Biodegradable clothing offers an array of environmentally-friendly benefits, from reducing waste in landfills to lowering levels of pollution. Following the success of the project, Theanne Schiros has also launched a biomaterials company with her colleague Asta Skocir, called AlgiKnit. Together, they hope to one day produce clothing made from algae on a commercial scale.

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9. Eco-friendly natural deodorant offers recyclable refills

Natural deodorant brand Myro has launched its offering that will appeal to the eco-conscious. The recyclable deodorant is made without aluminium, parabens, phthalates or talc that are often found in standard deodorants. Instead, Myro is created using clean ingredients such as barley powder to keep users dry and essential oils that release scent gradually. The deodorant’s case is a refillable pod that is made of 50 percent less plastic than a standard deodorant, with a cap that locks to prevents leaks.

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10. Cruise ships use fish waste as fuel

An expedition cruise ship is making big strides in protecting marine environments. Hurtigruten Cruises have started a green initiative to use waste fish parts as biofuel to power their cruise ships. The leftovers from fish processing for food, mixed with other organic waste products, can produce a biogas. The gas will then convert into a liquid and function as a fuel source. This fuel can thereby power various Hurtigruten expedition cruises aross their 17-ship strong fleet.

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