By Lynn M. Banaszak
July 1, 2020
Green Technology makes a difference.
Hello the Green Voice readers!
It is my pleasure to engage with you on this thoughtful forum. I have spent the last 20 years working in technology investment and company creation. I have helped nearly 400 entrepreneurs turn ideas into novel solutions to solve big problems.
I also have the pleasure of producing and co-hosting a nationally-ranked technology podcast called “Innovation Unleashed,” which pulls back the curtain and allows our listeners to view things from the inside out, by meeting the technology players making a difference and doing amazing work.
All of this experience has given me a front row seat to the genesis of not only our region’s technological prowess, but has also allowed me to have a seat at the table of technology development across the United States and beyond. In this column, I will be introducing you to change makers, and sharing interesting observations and information about technology and its promise to make the world a better place.
Let’s start our conversation about Green Technology.
According to Investopedia, Green Technology is a term that describes the use of technology and science to create products and services that are environmentally friendly. Green technology is related to cleantech, which specifically refers to products or services that improve operational performance while also reducing costs, energy consumption, waste, or negative effects on the environment.
Green Technology protects the environment, mends damage done to the environment in the past, safeguards and conserves natural resources, and preserves the Earth's natural resources.
According to a recent report by Allied Market Research, the green technology and sustainability market size was valued at $6.85 billion in 2018, and is projected to reach $44.61 billion by 2026.
So what does all of this mean to us? It means that Green Technology products and solutions cover all areas of life, are and will continue to be a big part of our economy, drive efforts to make the world a better place, and will also continue to play a significant part in our everyday lives.
Let’s talk about one area where Green Tech is and can make a huge difference.
The world's plastic pollution crisis.
Every day each of us is surrounded with plastic. Plastic is an integrated part of our lives due to the rapidly increasing production of disposable plastic products all over the world. Throw away water bottles, packaging on our favorite foods, components of our laptops, credit cards, phone cases, shoes, clothes, furniture … the list goes on and on. So much so that we don’t even think about it anymore.
Because of this, plastic pollution has become one of the Earth’s most unrelenting environmental problems. The world just simply does not have the ability to deal with all of this plastic. Collecting and getting rid of plastic trash is inefficient, and in many countries nonexistent. The problem of plastic trash has become so pervasive that it has driven the effort to create a global treaty that was negotiated by the United Nations. (https://www.un.org/pga/73/plastics/)
The convenience of plastics in our lives has led to all of us being comfortable participants in a “throw-away culture.” Single-use plastics account for 40 percent of the plastic produced every year. Many of these products, such as plastic bags and food wrappers, have a lifespan of mere minutes to hours in our lives, yet they may persevere in the environment for hundreds of years!
Plastic is a dirty word.
- Half of all plastics ever manufactured have been made in the last 15 years.
- Production increased exponentially, from 2.3 million tons in 1950 to 448 million tons by 2015. Production is expected to double by 2050.
- Only about 9% of all plastic ever made has likely been recycled with 12% of all plastic waste having been incinerated. The remaining 79% has accumulated in either landfill or the natural environment if not still in use.
- In one study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, nearly 93 percent of people tested positive for BPA (a potentially harmful chemical present in plastic products).
- It takes just four family shopping trips to accumulate 60 shopping bags.
- Every year, about eight million tons of plastic waste escapes into the oceans from coastal nations. That’s the equivalent of setting five garbage bags full of trash on every foot of coastline around the world.
- It is now believed that there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. Of that mass, 269,000 tons float on the surface, while some four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer litter the deep sea.
- There are believed to be 46,000 pieces of plastic in every square mile of ocean.
- Plastics often contain additives making them stronger, more flexible, and durable. But many of these additives can extend the life of products once they become trash, with some estimates ranging to at least 400 years to break down.
Green Technology makes a difference.
Here are a few interesting Green Tech inventions that are meant to diminish the use of plastic or clean up plastic waste:
The Toothpaste Pill.
This company proves you can clean your teeth by replacing toothpaste with a small pill to forego the tube and all the waste. https://bitetoothpastebits.com/
Pac-Man for the Ocean.
The Ocean Cleanup is designing and developing cleanup systems to clean up what is already polluting our oceans and to intercept plastic on its way to the ocean via rivers. https://theoceancleanup.com/
Faux Leather and more.
VEGEA was founded in 2016 in Milan to develop products at the integration between chemistry and agriculture. They use plant-based alternatives (waste from grapes in wine making amongst other things) to fully synthetic oil-derived materials for fashion, furniture, packaging, automotive & transportation. https://www.vegeacompany.com/
An Edible 6-pack Ring.
This product feeds animals, rather than kills them. Created from a material made of barley and wheat leftover from the brewing process, the edible rings are baked in the oven like bread dough and harden into a six-pack ring mold. https://www.e6pr.com/