An ethical smartphone, air-cleaning carpets and carbon-negative plastic are three of 100 game-changing innovations selected by Scandinavian think tank Sustainia as its top sustainability solutions for the year.
Sustainia100 is an annual guide to Sustainia’s picks for 100 projects, initiatives and technologies at the forefront of sustainable innovation from around the world that gives investors, business leaders, policy makers and consumers insights into promising solutions within their respective fields. This year, Sustainia’s research team and advisory board screened a pool of 900+ nominated solutions from which the final 100 solutions were selected.
The third annual Sustainia100 documents a growing diversity in sustainability innovations globally, which provides businesses with a host of new market opportunities.
“Sustainable innovation is truly broadening out these years. We are seeing how corporations are rapidly innovating and deploying new energy and resource-optimizing solutions. With this development, companies will lack behind if they do not gear towards a changed landscape, where an efficient and sustainable operation is key to long-term survival,” says Sustainia director Laura Storm.
This year’s Sustainia100 covers new efforts to make the fashion and food industries, homes, offices and transportation systems more efficient and sustainable. All are readily available with demonstrated environmental, social and economic effects and are currently deployed in 142 countries.
“While we don't have the luxury of time to fix the problems, we do have the luxury of readily available solutions. And with Sustainia100, we now know where to find the most inspiring of them,” says Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, IPCC chair and member of the Sustainia Award committee.
Three Innovation Trends Expanding Business Opportunities
Sustainia says the Sustainia100 cases represent leading-edge innovations across 10 industries. The data shows three strong drivers among the solutions: data analytic services, improved sustainability practices throughout the supply chain, and the circular economy — many of the leading innovations are products, services and systems designed for reuse, recycling, upcycling or even biodegradation in order to minimize waste. Examples include Bio-on, which is replacing petroleum-based plastics with 100 percent biodegradable plastic made from agricultural waste; and Mud Jeans, which leases its jeans, giving customers the option of keeping, swapping or returning them after use for recycling.
“We are seeing how especially the circular economy is a growing focus area — companies rethink consumption, waste, materials and return systems at impressive scale,” Storm says. “The global pressure on our natural resources has led to increased resource scarcity, which calls upon industries to transform their way of operating. Clever use of materials is a key innovation driver.”
Other standout solutions include Newlight Technologies’ AirCarbon plastic; Fairphone’s ethical smartphone; Good World Solutions, which provides transparency and real-time data for fashion supply chains; and carpets from Desso, which clean the air.
Last year, the top 10 finalists for the Sustainia Award (selected from the Sustainia100) included intelligent streetlights that dim when streets are empty; cell phone-based cancer treatment; and SBIO 2013 winner FreshPaper, a deceptively simple solution to reducing produce waste. Last year’s winner, TaKaDu, presented a new generation of water-grid technology that locates and classifies leaks and pipe bursts, and alerts utilities immediately.