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The sustainability technology sector has seen a surge in both interest and investment off the back of the global climate crisis. Sustainable technologies have become crucial for securing a more environmentally-friendly future, with some of the key focuses including reducing carbon emissions, minimising waste, and conserving the planet’s resources.
The growing demand for greener solutions has led to some fascinating new business models and industries, many of which present compelling opportunities for those looking to invest in the space. And it’s not just investors that are paying attention, but the workforce too. In Forbes’ recent Climate Tech and Sustainability trends report, Sierra Peterson, founding partner at Voyager, predicts that we’ll see a shift in tech talent towards climate tech this year; “These are people with significant experience in building for global scale, and they’re seeing billion-dollar climate business opportunities in transforming trillion-dollar legacy sectors and systems.”
Trends and Innovations in the Sustainable Tech Space
There are a number of key trends that are at the forefront of the industry today. Before we jump into the companies doing brilliant things in this space, here’s a quick recap:
- The Circular Economy
The concept of a circular economy revolves around minimising waste and making the most of our resources via recycling, reusing, sharing and repairing. Companies like Recycleye and Notpla (below) embody the circular economy philosophy through their innovative waste management and sustainable packaging solutions.
- Renewable Energy
Making a shift towards renewable energy sources is essential in the fight against climate change and to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Companies like O-Innovations (below) are pushing the boundaries of renewable energy by adapting existing technologies to suit our increasingly urban environments.
- Sustainable Materials
The development of eco-friendly materials is crucial, and ties in closely with the circular economy. Companies like Notpla and SaltyCo (below) are creating sustainable alternatives to traditional, environmentally harmful materials and plastics that we have become so reliant on. These innovative materials not only help to reduce waste and pollution, they’re helping drive consumer behaviour change too.
- Nature-Based Solutions
Nature-based solutions leverage the power of natural ecosystems to address environmental challenges – from carbon offset to natural power, there is some fascinating work being done in this area. Companies like Treeconomy and Desolenator (below) are utilising nature-based solutions to tackle issues like water scarcity.
O-Innovations: Harnessing Urban Wind Power
Traditional wind turbines are not suited to urban environments due to their size, noise, and potential danger to wildlife. O-Innovations has developed a city-friendly wind turbine that can generate electricity from wind in urban areas. Their cutting-edge design is compact, silent, and safe for birds, making it an ideal solution for expanding renewable energy in densely populated areas.
The company has picked up some notable supporters and awards, and bagged the James Dyson Award in 2018 and a Future Talent Award at the Design Intelligence Awards for their turbine prototype.
Notpla: Disappearing Packaging
Millions of tons of plastic waste end up in oceans and landfills every year — creating a significant environmental risk. London based Notpla is tackling this issue head-on by creating sustainable packaging solutions that biodegrade quickly and harmlessly. Their innovative material, made from seaweed and plant based substances, can be used for things like food packaging, water bottles, and even condiment sachets.
In 2023, the company picked up third place in the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize.
Recycleye: AI-Driven Waste Sorting and Recycling
Efficient waste management is essential to reducing our environmental impact, and Recycleye is revolutionising the industry with artificial intelligence (AI). By using AI-powered robotic systems to sort and separate recyclable materials, Recycleye is able to rapidly improve recycling rates and reduce the burden on landfills. Their technology offers a scalable and cost-effective solution for waste management, ultimately promoting a more circular economy.
Treeconomy: Quantifying the Value of Nature
Treeconomy has developed a platform that quantifies the economic value of natural assets, such as forests and wetlands, by considering their ecological, social, and economic benefits. Their technology is used to create a marketplace that is bringing more clarity to the world of carbon offset by allowing buyers and landowners to connect directly.
This innovative approach helps inform decision-making for businesses, governments, and landowners, promoting the long-term preservation of the natural environment.
SaltyCo: Planet-Positive Textiles
The fashion industry is a major contributor to global pollution and resource depletion. SaltyCo is a materials science company that aims to change this by reimagining the way textiles are produced. Their innovative process uses salt-tolerant plants to create sustainable, high-quality fabrics that use less fresh water in the textile production process.
SaltyCo’s planet-positive textiles offer an eco-friendly alternative for fashion brands and consumers alike, and picked up the H&M Foundation’s Global Change Award in 2022.
Desolenator: Solar-Powered Desalination
Desolenator have developed a groundbreaking solution to address the issue of water scarcity: the world’s first solar thermal desalination system. Using the power of the sun to purify seawater, Desolenator offers a sustainable, energy-efficient means of providing clean water.
Their technology has the potential to transform the lives of those living in water-stressed regions, while reducing the environmental impact of traditional desalination methods. The technology is already gaining traction, with the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) signing a partnership agreement to build a carbon-neutral water purification and desalination system in 2022.
Looking for investment opportunities in the sustainability sector? Seedrs works with some of the most innovative companies in the space.
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