Product, Service & Design Innovation
There Is No ‘Silver Bullet’ For Resource Management in the Climate Crisis

People have opinions about the ways we should address the climate crisis. There are many possible solutions, but however we decide to change, we have to do it now.

People have opinions about the ways we should address the climate crisis. From planting trees for sequestering carbon to updates to the Endangered Species Actt, the effectiveness of different initiatives is often questioned. Because time, money, and human resources are needed to implement any plan, it’s a conversation about whether an option is “worth it.”

If we take away one thing from this week’s climate observances, it should be that there is no one silver bullet. Mitigating today’s environmental challenges needs work in many areas.

As climate scientist Michael E. Mann says, “Any viable climate solution must be multi-pronged … [and] fire on all cylinders.” 

Here at TerraCycle, our focus is eliminating the w-word (waste) and collecting difficult-to-recycle materials through brand-sponsored recycling programs and our comprehensive Zero Waste Box system. Diverting items from landfills and incinerators, and educating about recycling is our specialty, but we know there are other concepts in the sustainability space with great potential.

Here are just a few interesting things happening around the world:

Putting captured carbon into new products

Seltzer and sparkling water fans rejoice: Valser, a beverage company and subsidiary of Coca-Cola HBC Switzerland, is set to release “the world’s first water bottled with carbon dioxide (CO2) pulled directly from the air.” 

Beverage companies are among the world's largest users of carbon dioxide; it had been common practice to use the CO2 byproduct from power plants for carbonation  By using direct air capture (DAC) technology to develop food-grade CO2, the industry is poised to offer a way both sequester carbon in the atmosphere and source a key ingredient for their products.

Speaking of carbon capture, another positive production practice picking up steam is a new method of creating concrete (a material that touches nearly every aspect of global infrastructure), which conventionally has a significant carbon and materials footprint, releasing staggering amounts of CO2 in the air.

A company called Blue Planet uses a “low-energy mineralization” process that takes climate-changing carbon out of the atmosphere, dissolves it into a solution, and produces a bicarbonate used for building materials. In addition to doing less harm, this production is one of a growing number that creates a benefit by creating a positive (new product) out of a negative (CO2). Win, win.

Learning from the experts

There is no waste in nature, and the earth cycles nearly everything it sustains (if you don’t count humans and all the unabsorbable “stuff” we produce). Recycling is one way we try to better fit in with nature’s activities, and carbon capture is a form of this. Needless to say, nature inspires some of the coolest ways we might fight climate change.

In an increasingly warm world, our day-to-day often entails indoor climate control, which is a matter of public safety and health, and extreme cost. Mick Pearce, an architect from Zimbabwe, is taking a biomimetic approach to designing buildings, inspired by termite mounds and cactus spikes that self-cool by tapping into the science of surface area, absorbing and regulating heat and cold.

Whatever we do about the climate crisis, we have to do it now.


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