Sustainability Article

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By: Quality Digest

One question led the founders of Nemo’s Garden, a subsea farming platform, to embark on its mission to take agriculture beneath the waves and bring better harvests to market: “Seventy percent of the planet is covered by water. Why don't we try to use part of the ocean to make more food, in a better way?”

The team has already successfully grown a variety of plants in this alien environment, and with help from Siemens, they’re looking to digitize the process so they can scale the project, validate the benefits their crops bring to the table, and expand their operations.

Project overview

The goal of Nemo’s Garden is to create an alternative agriculture system for areas where environmental, economic, or morphological reasons prevent traditional plant growth. The company has developed a prototype biosphere in which plants can be grown underwater. The biosphere can leverage the readily available, positive environmental factors in oceans or other bodies of water, such as temperature stability, water evaporation, CO2 absorption, abundance of oxygen, and natural protection from pests.

Otto de Graaf’s picture

By: Otto de Graaf

Despite the urgency of the climate crisis, and smart tech that enables the transition toward the factory of the future, for many manufacturers sustainability still feels like an afterthought rather than a priority. Certainly, sustainability may require big changes in strategy, processes, technology, and culture. Yet choosing to create a green manufacturing organization is not only the right thing to do; it is also, for now, a potential differentiator. This article outlines a pragmatic model to help you improve your sustainability by using quality data.

Sustainability: A real business need

With energy prices going through the roof, and scarcity of materials rampant, being sustainable is no longer just a greenwashing effort but a real business need. In its 2021 Climate Check report, research firm Deloitte identified the 11 biggest environmental sustainability and climate change issues already affecting or threatening organizations. Nearly 30 percent of businesses reported operational impact, 26 percent felt the effects of scarce resources, and 11 percent saw the need to modify industrial processes.

Multiple Authors
By: Anisur Rahman, Arif Arifuzzaman, Edgar Lara-Curzio, Tomonori Saito, Sungjin Kim

Researchers at the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ONRL) have developed an upcycling approach that adds value to discarded plastics for reuse in additive manufacturing, or 3D printing. The readily adoptable, scalable method introduces a closed-loop strategy that could globally reduce plastic waste and cut carbon emissions tied to plastic production.

Results published in Science Advances detail the simple process for upcycling a commodity plastic into a more robust material compatible with industry 3D-printing methods.

The team upgraded acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or ABS, a popular thermoplastic found in everyday objects ranging from auto parts to tennis balls to LEGO blocks. ABS is a popular feedstock for fused filament fabrication, or FFF, one of the most widely used 3D printing methods. The upcycled version boasts enhanced strength, toughness, and chemical resistance, which makes it attractive for FFF to meet new and higher-performance applications not achievable with standard ABS.

Multiple Authors
By: Tamara Sheldon, Knowable Magazine

As an environmentalist who totes kids around town, I would love to buy an electric car. But here in South Carolina, the cheapest electric vehicles (EVs) are at least three times as expensive as my used VW Jetta. What about those big government subsidies, you ask? The truth is that EV subsidies overwhelmingly benefit the rich, not moderate-income people like me.

The U.S. federal government will give you up to a $7,500 tax credit for an EV, but you only get this money at tax time, and you only get it all if you pay a lot in taxes. In 2016, 78 percent of federal EV tax credits went to taxpayers with incomes over $100,000.

Angie Basiouny’s picture

By: Angie Basiouny

Plans by Hyundai and Samsung to invest billions of dollars in high-tech production facilities in the United States is a hopeful sign that a different kind of manufacturing is on the rise in the country after decades of industrial decline, Wharton professor Lynn Wu said.

During President Joe Biden’s three-day trip to Seoul last month, Hyundai announced it will spend $5.5 billion to build an electric vehicle and battery plant near Savannah, Georgia, about 275 miles from where it already operates a Kia manufacturing hub. Hyundai chairman Euisun Chung said the company will spend another $5 billion in the U.S. on artificial intelligence for autonomous vehicles. Last year, it bought a majority stake in robotics firm Boston Dynamics.

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By: Rick Gould

As the world enters the third year of the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate crisis remains the biggest long-term threat facing humanity, according to the Global Risks Report 2022. Extreme weather due to climate change is seen as the second most serious short-term risk, with biodiversity loss coming in third.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Earth’s temperature has increased by about 1°C since pre-industrial times. This massive accumulation of heat has caused the unusual abundance of flash floods, melting ice caps, superstorms, droughts, heat waves, and catastrophic forest fires that marked 2021.

Faced with this reality, governments are encouraged to think more broadly and create policies that shape the agenda for the coming years. Now more than ever, standards need to be part of a coordinated multistakeholder response to ensure the transition to net-zero economies.

Luk Van Wassenhove’s picture

By: Luk Van Wassenhove

Labels such as “sustainable,” “eco-friendly,” and “green” have long been an easy sell. “Circular economy” joined their ranks when it debuted on the world stage at the World Economic Forum 2012. Even though related concepts have been discussed as early as in the 1970s, claims by the consulting world that a transition to a circular economy could bring economic benefit to both manufacturers and consumers caught the attention of businesses and policymakers.

Emily Newton’s picture

By: Emily Newton

There’s no better time than now. As a species, we need to mitigate the effect we have on our planet. There are many ways to do this—namely, through green and eco-friendly initiatives—but one sector is having the biggest impact of all: the industrial and manufacturing sector. In the 2010s, the industrial sector accounted for nearly 50 percent of the world’s total energy consumption, and during the last 60 years, that has almost doubled.

Manufacturing isn’t just energy-intensive, however. It’s also responsible for harmful emissions and is a huge producer of waste. Establishing more energy-aware manufacturing processes and systems would be a massive step in the right direction. It could mean the difference between slowing climate change or stepping over our fast-approaching tipping point.

Nicholas P. Sullivan’s picture

By: Nicholas P. Sullivan

People in the world’s developed nations live in a post-industrial era, working mainly in service or knowledge industries. Manufacturers increasingly rely on sensors, robots, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to replace human labor or make it more efficient. Farmers can monitor crop health via satellite and apply pesticides and fertilizers with drones.

Commercial fishing, one of the oldest industries in the world, is a stark exception. Industrial fishing, with factory ships and deep-sea trawlers that land thousands of tons of fish at a time, are still the dominant hunting mode in much of the world.

Marc Lepere’s picture

By: Marc Lepere

As the war in Ukraine rages, finance professionals on Wall Street and in Europe recently attracted outrage by suggesting that investing in arms manufacturers should be treated as ethical investing. In the fight against tyranny, they argued that such an investment “preserves peace and global stability” and defends “the values of liberal democracies.” As such, it belongs in the increasingly lucrative investment category known as ESG, or environmental, social, and governance.

ESG is viewed as a mark of approval for socially conscious investing. If you tick a box that says you want your pension or savings to be invested ethically, whoever looks after your money will put it into ESG funds—meaning funds that hold only companies with an ESG rating.

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