A network of circular economy companies
Creating a trading block of circular economies is essential to achieving the 2030 Agenda. Technologies that add value to end-of-life resources (either by restoring their previous utility or by returning them to “virgin” status) will be responsible for increasing the eco-efficiency of society. By helping us extract more value with less effort and pollution, these technologies can help humanity transcend our planetary limits (i.e. – Earth Overshoot Day). With an estimated 84 per cent increase in demand for textile fiber by 2035, the product materials market will simply need circular technology companies to maintain production growth.
FLEX’s Sinctronics circular manufacturing system for e-waste, is one such example. Their unique approach reduces energy and greenhouse gas emissions, increases recovered materials and significantly reduces landfill waste. Umicore too recognizes that e-waste has potential to be mishandled when recycled. Dedicated to reducing risk and hazardous byproducts, Umicore has developed safe processes for the final treatment of copper and most precious metals.
In the fashion industry, Evrnu has created a method of transforming textile waste into new materials, which will help divert the 12 million tons of textile waste produced by the United States alone. MUD Jeans, the only circular denim company in the world, encourages customers to return their old jeans. This old denim gets recycled and reused to make new pants. C&A, dedicated to achieving a perfect circular economy, uses recycled nylon, polyester and cotton in its apparel. And Beautycounter, a cosmetics company, has developed a design process that bans harmful ingredients while lobbying for consumer protections against dangerous ingredients.
Innovative recycling technologies are also enabling the efficient reuse of materials which were previously difficulty and costly to recycle. To help solve the global plastic crisis, Loop Industries has developed a proprietary technology that upcycles PET and polyester materials into food-grade plastics.
Extracting value from the sun with new business models
Merging digital technology with the ingenuity of ants, Ant Studio’s CoolAnt offers a unique air cooling system that boasts zero plastic and zero emissions in a more affordable package than traditional, energy-consuming cooling methods.
Affordable and clean energy is challenging in many regions of the world, but Azuri and Envirofit have created solutions to remove the barriers and provide this service to off-grid customers. Azuri has created a pay-as-you-go solar home system with integrated AI technology that has allowed customers to gain access to not only lighting but media services which allows them to learn about their communities and the world at large. Similarly, Envirofit has created a pay-as-you-cook solution for their efficient cook stoves, providing families with clean, safe and affordable options to cook meals.
In the same way, a network of global solar PV companies like Ecoppia, Secure Futures and CleanMax Solar are developing solutions to increase the availability and profitability of solar power networks (primarily for western and developing markets). Ecoppia’s autonomous cleaning robots for solar panels in remote regions can reduce risk and increasing panel efficiency (thus improving ROI). Other new sale models championed by Secure Futures and CleanMax Solar have introduced low-risk opportunities to businesses and non-profits interested in switching to a renewable energy format.
Another 2018 contender, EM-ONE is helping support new energy technology commercialization via their Innovation Lab – a process that tests new technologies using real-world simulations to reduce risk and lower costs for manufacturers and corporate clients.