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How sustainable tech could help save the planet

Posted by Bethan Rees on 14th February 2020

Sustainability. We hear the word almost every day on the news, read it in all the papers and see the hashtag across social media. But with the ever-growing movement in support of sustainable living, #sustainability is more than just a buzzword. 

The “Greta Thunberg effect” is very real — because of her influence, people are increasingly aware of the need for serious change. But while Greta and her fellow climate activists are lobbying for governments to take the climate emergency seriously, sustainability is also something that can be accomplished through smaller lifestyle changes. 

And for the sake of our planet, everyone — from businesses to consumers — needs to do their bit. 

So, where does technology come into all this? Well, pretty much everywhere actually. Developments in tech are playing a massive role in helping us find solutions to the most critical environmental challenges our planet has ever faced.

Here are just a few of the many innovative technologies that have been developed with the aim of helping to protect our precious Earth. 

An ocean-cleaning bin

We’ve all heard about the issue of plastic pollution in our rivers and oceans, harming marine life and impacting on human health. Estimates suggest a massive 8 million metric tons of plastic waste end up in our oceans every year. 

Enter: the Seabin. Invented by Australian surfers, the Seabin “acts as a floating garbage bin, skimming the surface of the water by pumping water into the device. The Seabin V5 can intercept floating debris, macro and micro plastics and even micro fibres.” 

Ideal for collecting plastic floating in calm waters, the device has already been installed in many ports and marinas around the world, clearing our oceans of approximately 3,613 kgs of rubbish every day. 

Biodegradable six pack rings

While many of us Brits would say we’re partial to a can (or six) of beer on a balmy summer evening, some of us might enjoy our drink less if we realised the damage those plastic six pack rings can do to wildlife. 

Luckily, Mexican start-up E6PR has invented a biodegradable alternative, in a bid to stop birds and marine life getting trapped and injured in the plastic rings. The E6PR, made from by-product waste and natural fibres, holds the cans together in the same way as their plastic counterparts, but can be composted instead of dumped into the oceans or landfill. 

They’re also far better for wildlife, as the rings are safe to ingest — although they probably wouldn’t taste great. Corona, and several other breweries around the globe have trialled the product successfully, so fingers-crossed this eco-alternative catches on…

Lab grown ‘meat’

As a planet, our current level of meat consumption is unsustainable. Studies have shown that beef consumption needs to decrease by 90%, and be replaced by plant-based alternatives, for us to continue feeding the Earth’s growing population. 

After becoming aware of this pressing need for change, US-based scientists at Impossible™ Foods spent five years working to create a “meaty” meat-free alternative to beef. 

They were able to successfully replicate the meaty flavour of beef — which comes from the heme molecules in the blood — by using the equivalent heme molecules in the roots of soybean plants. 

Fast-forward to today, and the Impossible™ Burger is widely available in the USA (it is yet to arrive in the UK) and is increasingly sought-after, with other brands jumping on the bandwagon to create their own versions. 

As the popularity of plant-based alternatives grows, the demand for beef decreases, reducing the impact on the environment. Win win.

Bethan Rees

Cool, calm and collected, Bethan has an ability to rapidly instil confidence in anyone she works with. As a language graduate, fluent in French and German, Bethan also has an innate passion for communication giving her all the qualities needed for a long and successful career in PR. Outside of work, Bethan loves travelling, and also enjoys running and going to gigs with friends.