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thinkstep (fka PE International) Launching Comprehensive Platform for Enabling Business Sustainability
thinkstep (fka PE International) Launching Comprehensive Platform for Enabling Business Sustainability

CLEANTECH - Sustainability software and consulting company PE International, creators of the industry-leading GaBi life cycle assessment software and providers of a vast array of tools for sustainability performance management, unveiled its new name – thinkstep - today at its annual customer and partner symposium. The company says the new name reflects its long history of connecting data and knowledge to make sustainability advances, or ‘thinksteps,’ for the world’s leading brands and organizations.

BASF’s Creator Space Hosting Symposium on Smart Energy for a Sustainable Future
BASF’s Creator Space Hosting Symposium on Smart Energy for a Sustainable Future

CHEMISTRY, MATERIALS & PACKAGING - At the first of three science symposia hosted by BASF in honor of its 150th anniversary, to be held this week in Ludwigshafen, Germany, more than 600 top ranking scientists from academia and business will discuss “Smart Energy for a Sustainable Future.” Speakers will discuss the latest innovations in the storage and sustainable use of energy and explain approaches to energy-efficient chemical production. Other topics include viable future mobility, new materials for energy technologies and future energy supply. The symposium is part of BASF's worldwide Creator Space™ program.

UK Researchers Make Cheap Solar Cells From Shrimp Shells
UK Researchers Make Cheap Solar Cells From Shrimp Shells

CLEANTECH - Researchers at Queen Mary University of London have for the first time successfully created electricity-generating solar cells with chemicals found in the shells of shrimps and other crustaceans.The materials chitin and chitosan found in the shells are abundant and significantly cheaper to produce than the metals currently used in making nanostructured solar-cells, the researchers say.The researchers used a process called hydrothermal carbonization to create the carbon quantum dots (CQDs) from the widely and cheaply available chemicals found in crustacean shells. They then coated standard zinc oxide nanorods with the CQDs to make the solar cells.

#ThrowBackThursday: Blue Box Re-Emerges with Zero-Waste Air Filtration Solution
#ThrowBackThursday: Blue Box Re-Emerges with Zero-Waste Air Filtration Solution

PRODUCT, SERVICE & DESIGN INNOVATION - In the lead-up to this year’s Sustainable Brands Innovation Open — our competition for startups poised to make scalable, sustainable impacts — we’re catching up with some of our favorite game-changing solutions from past years. This week, we have an update from SBIO 2013 finalist Blue Box.

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Tesla Promises New Battery Can Power Your Home, Power the Grid
Tesla Promises New Battery Can Power Your Home, Power the Grid

CLEANTECH - Tesla founder Elon Musk has announced a new project that could get millions of people off the grid.Musk’s increased interest in the emerging energy storage market has led to plans for a giant lithium-ion battery factory. Home and businesses owners could buy these battery systems for backup power or for managing solar electricity generation and use.

Waste2Watergy Helping Beverage Companies Brew Power from Wastewater
Waste2Watergy Helping Beverage Companies Brew Power from Wastewater

CHEMISTRY, MATERIALS & PACKAGING - Waste2Watergy, a Corvallis startup formed at Oregon State University, has secured a $225,000 federal grant to advance technology that cleans organics from brewery wastewater while producing electricity. The company says the technology could revolutionize wastewater treatment for the entire food and beverage industry.Developers have created a microbial fuel cell (MFC) system that generates energy from treating wastewater. Tiny microbes were designed to consume organic material; as an added bonus, the electrochemical energy created from microbial reactions in the fuel cell produce electricity.

New Packaging Concepts Could Cut Food Waste
New Packaging Concepts Could Cut Food Waste

CHEMISTRY, MATERIALS & PACKAGING - UK recycled packaging manufacturer Spectra unveiled a number of new concepts emphasizing closure technology this week at an industry event in Birmingham.One of the new closure concepts is a two-piece cap that features an inner screw mechanism, which allows customers to snap on five alternate outer shells for a mix-and-match outcome. Another idea is a new push button sliding cap that can be operated with one hand, available in twin color options.

Smart Data at the Heart of Pro-Social Brands
Smart Data at the Heart of Pro-Social Brands

MARKETING AND COMMS - “Big Data” and “Social Good” may be the yin and yang of tomorrow’s most successful brands. Both are recognized as important components of contemporary marketing strategy, yet they are not typically thought of as bedmates. That is changing.The growing expectation that brands should make meaningful contributions to the world has put pressure on marketers to find profitable ways to do so. They must carefully select causes that align with the brand’s ethos and can be seamlessly woven into their business models. But how to find such rare pearls? The answer lies, in part, with data.

Startup Develops World’s Thinnest Speaker
Startup Develops World’s Thinnest Speaker

PRODUCT, SERVICE & DESIGN INNOVATION - A startup called Soundlazer claims to have developed the world’s thinnest speaker, made from a new class of plastic polymer. With the ability to reproduce a large range of audio frequencies, the company says it can be used to deliver audio in tight or unique spaces.

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How Does Sustainability Research Fit Within Business Schools?
How Does Sustainability Research Fit Within Business Schools?

COLLABORATION - This is the fifth of six questions from a roundtable discussion with the directors of sustainability research centers at six top business schools.So there are a couple different ways that we support the research process as an Initiative.One is that we bring in funding and then disperse it to faculty for research on sustainability. We’ve done that with some corporate funding, as well as philanthropic individual donors or foundations. We put out those calls for proposals, and it helps us to identify who among the faculty is doing research and sustainability.

GM Set to Achieve Renewable Energy Goals 4 Years Early
GM Set to Achieve Renewable Energy Goals 4 Years Early

CLEANTECH - General Motors for the first time is procuring wind to power its manufacturing operations, enabling one of its Mexico facilities’ electricity needs to be run mostly on renewable energy. This addition of 34 megawatts of wind power allows GM to achieve its corporate goal of renewable energy use four years early.GM says construction of the wind farm will begin in the second quarter of this year. When complete, more than 12 percent of the company’s North American energy consumption will come from renewable energy sources, up from 9 percent. GM’s current renewable energy use — comprised of solar, landfill gas and waste to energy — totals 104 megawatts against a goal of 125 megawatts by 2020.

Closed-Loop Fabric Producers Still Ironing Out Wrinkles in Circular Textile Supply Chain
Closed-Loop Fabric Producers Still Ironing Out Wrinkles in Circular Textile Supply Chain

PRODUCT, SERVICE & DESIGN INNOVATION - Interest is growing in new synthetic fabrics and textiles made from waste materials that have the potential to be used again and again. Designed from the outset to work within closed-loop supply cycles, Returnity and Econyl are perhaps the two best-known examples of branded products in this field. The level of innovation that is built into these regenerative fabrics is impressive – they outline a wealth of environmental benefits and savings. In the case of Econyl, there is a clear social value driver in terms of delivering a more community-minded, inclusive business model.

New App OpenLabel Aims to Replace Product Labels
New App OpenLabel Aims to Replace Product Labels

PRODUCT, SERVICE & DESIGN INNOVATION - Silicon Valley startup OpenLabel has just launched a free iPhone app and website that lets consumers and non-profit partners attach information and product ratings directly onto any barcoded product.After closing half a million dollar seed investment from investors at Google, Amazon, and MicroVentures, OpenLabel released its free mobile app and web platform that helps smart shoppers make healthier, more responsible, and more informed decisions.

GE Launches Platform to Explore Tools, Trends in Water Reuse, Energy Efficiency
GE Launches Platform to Explore Tools, Trends in Water Reuse, Energy Efficiency

MARKETING AND COMMS - GE Water & Process Technologies recently launched UsedtoUseful, a new platform that explores the impact of water reuse on industrial and municipal sectors. The site shares industry insight and discusses interesting concepts surrounding the impact of water reuse on industrial and municipal sectors.UsedtoUseful focuses on water reuse, tough-to-treat water, energy efficiency, and monitoring through interesting articles, original content, and water stories from around the globe in a non-commercial way.

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Report: Reduction, Recycling and Recovery Key to Resolving Water-Energy Crisis
Report: Reduction, Recycling and Recovery Key to Resolving Water-Energy Crisis

WASTE NOT - The most effective technologies for addressing growing global water and energy interdependence — known as the water-energy nexus — are based on reduce, recycle, and recovery and zero-water/zero-energy, according to new research from analyst firm Frost & Sullivan.The report, Technology Convergence Resolving Water-Energy Challenges, identifies six types of technology that contribute to solving the water-energy challenge: renewables-based desalination, wastewater treatment and recovery, hydraulic fracturing, thermal power, water efficiency and energy efficiency.

Global Thermostat Turning Carbon Pollution Into Cash
Global Thermostat Turning Carbon Pollution Into Cash

CLEANTECH - Carbon-capture technology holds much promise for helping the world to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere and mitigate the effects of global warming. It works by trapping the carbon dioxide at its emission source, transporting it to a storage location — often deep underground — and isolating it. However, most carbon-capture techniques developed to date are uneconomic because they consume too much energy to sequester the carbon.

AT&T, GE Developing Next-Gen Smart Energy Solutions for ‘Internet of Things”
AT&T, GE Developing Next-Gen Smart Energy Solutions for ‘Internet of Things”

CLEANTECH - AT&T and GE have announced a collaboration to create the next generation of smart energy solutions for the industrial Internet of Things (IoT), helping to improve the way the energy industry works.The companies say they are jointly working on proof of concepts at the AT&T IoT Foundry in Plano, Texas.

Catalyzing Change: Georgia Tech Establishes Hub for Sustainable Business Collaboration
Catalyzing Change: Georgia Tech Establishes Hub for Sustainable Business Collaboration

COLLABORATION - Howard Connell, managing director of Georgia Tech’s new Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business, points to the panel of presenters at the Center’s inaugural event as an example of how it plans to address the systemic complexities of sustainability.

Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, Autodesk Launch First-Ever Product Design Challenge
Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, Autodesk Launch First-Ever Product Design Challenge

THE NEXT ECONOMY - The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute and Autodesk, a world leader in 3D design software, have teamed up to offer product designers a chance to win up to US$4,000 through the inaugural Cradle to Cradle Product Design Challenge. Participants are eligible to submit their design after completing the free 1-hour, online course, Designing Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Products for the Circular Economy. Submissions are due March 15, 2015 and winners will be announced in April.

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Sprint Launches Encore Challenge to Find Smart Ways to Revamp Used Smartphones
Sprint Launches Encore Challenge to Find Smart Ways to Revamp Used Smartphones

WASTE NOT - Sprint today launched its Smartphone Encore Challenge — an attempt to inspire students to generate new ideas about how to revive old smartphones and their components. The competition — launched in partnership with Brightstar Corporations and HOBI International — calls upon students to come up with innovative ways to retrofit their old devices that could be scaled into a commercial business model. The Encore Challenge will be supported by Net Impact, the leading nonprofit that motivates younger generations to find sustainable ways to work within and beyond business.

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