SnippETS for 12 July 2018
Welcome to this week’s edition of our SnippETS newsletter. This issue examines a number of positive developments in the way we view the concept of food production and wearable clothing. We also examine the dilemma facing us on plastic use and how we might manage its use better. We also review some innovative new products and how tyres and solar panels can be recycled when their useful life is over.
Imagine a world where meat is no longer farmed, but instead produced in the laboratory. Imagine no longer! The “meat- free” burger, (with its meat-like appearance, texture and taste) has become a huge discussion point and certain to be very disruptive to New Zealand, where meat is our second largest export. The recent news that Air New Zealand has introduced the burger on its international menu has not gone unnoticed. The rise and rise of vegetarian and vegan options in our society is becoming obvious. Understandably politicians and others are being vocal with their opinions. Read More....
And if we don’t farm cows for meat, where would we source leather? In the laboratory, of course! This video describes a new bio-leather that takes only 2 weeks to produce, and the range of properties available in the resultant material is huge.
So what other ways are there to make the fashion industry, currently the 2nd most polluting industry in the world, greener? Ideally it would be that all clothing would be made sustainably and ethically, and last a very long time. Some more detailed ideas are found in our next article, but really we need a mind-set change from the “this week’s fashion” "buy more" mentality to a more long-term view.
Modern life would be impossible without plastic – but we have long since lost control over our invention. Why has plastic turned into a problem and what do we know about its dangers? Created in collaboration with UN Environment and their Clean Seas campaign, this thought provoking video explains how we have ended up with this plastic dilemma.
With the science pointing out the true dangers of plastic, many nations are taking drastic measures to reduce single use plastics. One such nation is Kenya, where they have introduced the world’s stiffest fines for plastic, and although some businesses are struggling to find affordable alternatives, in Nairobi’s shanty towns the plastic clean-up is changing lives. No more flying toilets.
Another success story of regulating plastic usage can be found in Sikkim, India. After seeing the damaging effects of discarded plastic, Sikkim was quick to ban plastic bags, banning their use in 1998. After 14 years of the ban a 2014 survey by Toxic Links, a New Delhi organisation, found that in Gangtok (capital of Sikkim) and other main towns, plastic bags are now rarely used. It makes you wonder, where else could this work?
But even if we were to stop using plastic now, what do we do with the 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic that has already become waste since 1907? That’s where Social Plastic® might be able to help. Social Plastic®, a term coined by the Plastic Bank uses Blockchain and, “is a globally recognisable and tradable currency that, when used, alleviates poverty and cleans the environment. It’s a material whose value is transferred through the lives of the people who encounter it, rich and poor.”
We next take a look at some exciting sustainable products that are built to last. From the humble reusable and folding straw to a modular cell phone that is actually designed to be upgraded and fixed. We also have carpet made from fishing nets, 3D printed footwear or a T Shirt which absorbs nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides, bacteria and unpleasant odours. Some very cool stuff!
Tyres are everywhere and the estimated one billion that are disposed of annually end up in mountains piled high, which it seems very few people know what to do with. But now Michelin, who recently acquired Lehigh Technologies have developed a process, using liquid nitrogen to turn the remaining ‘tricky’ to get at rubber cold enough so that it can be pulverized into a fine composite and reused in the production of new tyres.
Finally we take a look at Europe’s first solar panel recycling plant. The new plant in the south of France is set to recycle 1,300 tonnes of panels this year alone. There are sufficient quantities now coming off rooftops to make the plant viable. This plant will no doubt this will be the first of many, working in the specialist area, where the panels are actually deconstructed so all parts can be recycled.
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