At GreenBiz, we’ve been reporting on the world of sustainable enterprise for over twenty years, however this 12 months has been not like every other. From an unprecedented pandemic to a world financial downturn to the intensifying impacts of local weather change, we are able to’t say we’ll miss 2020. However there have been many helpful classes discovered over the previous 12 months.
A few of these might be discovered within the prime GreenBiz tales of the 12 months, as “measured” by reader visitors. Whereas COVID-19 lower via nearly all of our protection — identical to it lower via our on a regular basis lives this 12 months — different hopeful tales shined via. GreenBiz readers received enthusiastic about local weather change options that ranged from the brand new, from the rising potential of hydrogen as an power supply to adjustments in plastics manufacturing, to the traditional, comparable to planting bushes. Readers additionally sought glimmers of hope on this 12 months; you had been drawn to tales about COVID-19’s optimistic impression on air air pollution and what the sustainability area can do to be extra actively anti-racist and pro-diversity.
With out additional ado, listed below are the highest 10 most generally learn tales and reviews from the previous 12 months, delivered to you by our analysts, editors and different members of the GreenBiz neighborhood.
And as we look ahead to subsequent 12 months, do you have got any notes on our protection — stuff you wish to see kind of of within the upcoming 12 months? Be happy to shoot us an electronic mail at [email protected]; we tremendously admire any and all suggestions.
1. Transportation habits are altering drastically. Fleet electrification methods gained steam all year long, with all-electric heavy-duty huge rigs, semi-trucks, field vans, supply vans and extra within the highlight.
The most well liked pattern of the 12 months was the electrification of transportation, which is on the precipice of a serious upswing: Lower than 1 p.c of fleet automobiles had been electrical originally of the 12 months, however that quantity is anticipated to develop to 12 p.c by 2030.
We named eight of the most important gamers within the area so sustainability professionals know what and who to be careful for. From relative giants comparable to Tesla to newcomers like startup Rivian and Chanje, we stand by this listing.
READ THE FULL STORY: eight electrical truck and van corporations to observe in 2020.
2. The pandemic and subsequent stay-at-home orders had an unintentionally optimistic and important preliminary impression on air air pollution.
Over 45 states had been underneath stay-at-home orders at one level within the spring as a result of COVID-19 disaster. A ensuing drop in regional visitors, together with lowered industrial and business exercise, led to a major drop in air-polluting emissions.
These emissions reductions are clearly short-term, unintended penalties of the pandemic. However they present that simply as human actions have prompted our altering local weather and the impacts we’re experiencing as we speak, human actions may gradual and reverse the phenomenon.
READ THE FULL STORY: The beautiful impression of COVID-19 social distancing on air air pollution & To make places of work protected throughout COVID-19, buildings want a breath of contemporary air & How coronavirus will have an effect on four key environmental points
three. Clear magnificence and trend are stylish. However the industries must push past recycling.
A few of the largest contributors to the plastic disaster are the cosmetics and trend industries.
Within the $500 billion-per-year cosmetics area, small-scale packaging results in large-scale single-use plastic waste. However options exist, and we wrote about them. At magnificence and hygiene merchandise firm Lush, for instance, working to implement zero-waste when potential has led to innovation throughout the board
In trend, equally, going the additional mile takes an progressive strategy. A brand new know-how of this kind, chemical garment-to-garment recycling, was certainly one of your favourite tales of the 12 months.
Traders comparable to H&M are already forging forward.
READ THE FULL STORY: How cosmetics retailer Lush is making purposeful revenue via round processes & Trend’s newest pattern? Why H&M, different huge manufacturers are investing in garment recycling
four. What’s subsequent for the chemical compounds business amid a rising public backlash in opposition to plastics? New sorts of manufacturing processes with the promise to infinitely reuse plastics.
Our story with an inside look into Eastman Chemical’s manufacturing unit was successful earlier this 12 months. Eastman is among the largest U.S. chemical corporations, and it has confronted criticism up to now few years together with different chemical corporations as plastics have grown as a problem within the public’s consciousnesses.
But it surely claims to have a response to those issues. That features two new applied sciences. Carbon renewal know-how, or CRT, breaks down waste plastic feedstocks to the molecular degree earlier than utilizing them as constructing blocks to provide a variety of supplies and packaging. Polyester renewal know-how, or PRT, includes taking waste polyesters from landfills and different waste streams and reworking them again right into a uncooked materials that the corporate claims is indistinguishable from polyester produced from fossil-fuel feedstocks.
As well as, different tales on plastic manufacturing piqued readers’ curiosity. A narrative about Tupperware’s new sustainable manufacturing processes, for instance, was certainly one of our most-read articles.
Any and all new options to the plastics disaster can be welcome in 2021, on condition that this 12 months has seen document new plastic manufacturing thanks to the pandemic.
READ THE FULL STORY: Inside Eastman’s moonshot purpose for endlessly round plastics & Tupperware inches towards round processes, one plastic container at a time
5. Planes stay among the many most polluting technique of transport. Is there a strategy to cut back their emissions?
Readers devoured GreenBiz tales on the rising applied sciences powering electrical aviation and the businesses behind them. Although the know-how isn’t fairly there but, the certification course of is lengthy and the method is pricey, the electrical aviation business remains to be taking off.
That’s as a result of flights underneath 500 miles are throughout the vary of an electrical motor. Roughly 45 p.c of all world flights meet this customary — presenting an enormous alternative.
READ THE FULL STORY: 6 electrical aviation corporations to observe & 7 city air mobility corporations to observe
6. Humanity’s destruction of biodiversity fosters the circumstances for rising illnesses comparable to COVID-19.
If this 12 months has proven us something, it’s that the well being of our planet and the well being of people are inextricably linked.
Analysis suggests that outbreaks of animal-borne and different infectious illnesses comparable to Ebola, SARS, chook flu and COVID-19, attributable to a novel coronavirus, are on the rise. In the meantime, people have continued harmful practices comparable to deforestation and agricultural growth. Living proof: The world has misplaced 60 p.c of all wildlife within the final 50 years whereas the variety of new infectious illnesses has quadrupled within the final 60 years.
These tales hit house with readers this 12 months, and we’ll proceed to cowl tales on this vein, as a result of we count on to see extra occasions like this sooner or later.
READ THE FULL STORY: Biodiversity, pandemics and the circle of life & Destroying habitats has opened a Pandora’s field for brand spanking new illnesses to emerge
7. Coal-fired energy crops are closing, and people financial and social ecosystems are collapsing across the nation. A simply transition to renewable sources comparable to hydrogen may ease the ache.
Hydrogen remains to be an rising supply of renewable power. But it surely’s an enormous alternative: It’s probably the most considerable component within the universe, and capturing hydrogen is easy, in idea.
Previous coal crops might be simply remodeled into new hydrogen crops to provide GHG-free power, in line with some business insiders, whereas offering good jobs for hard-hit communities.
READ THE FULL STORY: You say previous coal plant, I say new inexperienced hydrogen facility
eight. Agriculture as a local weather change answer fairly than a reason for local weather change
All of us need an agricultural system that may sufficient meals for the rising world inhabitants sustainably. However sure agricultural practices that intention to extend crop yields comparable to clear-cutting launch greenhouse gases that had been trapped within the soils into the ambiance. The practices of “regenerative agriculture” promise to do the alternative: these farming and grazing practices rebuilding soil natural matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity, leading to each carbon drawdown and bettering the water cycle. Our tales on the subject struck a chord with you this 12 months.
In 2020, meals corporations delved even deeper into how agricultural practices can sequester carbon within the land fairly than launch it. Two of the world’s largest meals corporations, Normal Mills and Danone North America, have set particular targets and labored to increase their assist to farmers of their provide chains which might be choosing up these practices this 12 months.
These new packages have already been carried out for oats and wheat farmers who wish to take part throughout a spread of expertise, ages and farm sizes.
READ THE FULL STORY: Normal Mills, Danone dig deeper into regenerative agriculture with incentives, funding
9. Planting bushes isn’t precisely the subsequent huge factor — or is it? Firms are investing in nature-based local weather change options comparable to planting bushes to attract down carbon.
Our inside have a look at two thrilling tree-planting initiatives resonated with you this 12 months. One is a sizzling new tree-planting startup whose traders embrace an Uber founder and whose consumers embrace Microsoft and Shopify resonated with you this 12 months.
The startup, Pachama, has a singular worth proposition: it provides a verified market for carbon credit. That’s essential for corporations who wish to purchase credit after committing to going carbon impartial and even carbon-negative. Pachama each sells carbon credit by working with land managers who’re utilizing carbon-sequestering practices, and verifies the amount of carbon they’re storing by way of a singular mixture of satellite tv for pc photographs, LiDAR and machine studying.
Nonetheless, “if the planet continues waking as much as the fact of local weather change and the urgency of motion, we consider that carbon markets will proceed to broaden,” Diego Saez-Gil, the founding father of Pachama, mentioned.
In the meantime, SilviaTerra, one other cleantech startup, has been capable of create a “basemap” of each acre of forest in North America, all the way down to the species and dimension of each single tree. To do that, SilviaTerra used machine studying to construct the map, primarily based on satellite tv for pc and sensor knowledge from sources comparable to NASA. It lays vital groundwork for landowners to take part in markets for carbon storage and different ecosystem advantages.
Firms like these can be essential to observe within the subsequent 12 months, as carbon credit score markets proceed to develop.
READ THE FULL STORY: Why Silicon Valley is taking a giant curiosity in bushes
10. Proponents of the Black Lives Matter motion that surged into the general public eye this summer time took on the sustainability area.
This summer time, the U.S. skilled a long-overdue racial reckoning. Following the dying of unarmed Black man George Floyd by the hands of the Minneapolis police, white America obtained a actuality examine in regards to the racism and discrimination occurring on this nation.
The worlds of fresh power, company sustainability and cleantech weren’t spared. Some key themes that emerged among the many GreenBiz readership this 12 months included solidarity and environmental justice, the motion that advocates that low-income and marginalized communities and populations shouldn’t be disproportionately uncovered to opposed environmental impacts.
READ THE FULL STORY: How racism manifests in clear power & How sustainability professionals can uplift the Black neighborhood