Human Effort Materials Your Home

202: Invisible barcodes for recycling


Many consumers struggle to figure out which items can be recycled while sorting our rubbish at home. Machines in sorting plants can face the same problem. This prevents many countries from achieving the recycling rates they would such as.


Ravi K. Sharma of Digimarc in Portland, Oregon has developed and patented an “invisible” barcode which can more accurately identify recyclable plastics that could prevent their unnecessary disposal into landfills or incinerators.

Digimarc has signed Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, which is focused on building a Circular Economy for plastics.

Products have disguised codes printed all over them making it easier to scan distinguishing food-grade plastics from non-food grade plastics so the right kind of plastic can be re used to manufacture new items.

Following successful initial trials carried out by TOMAR at a recycling facility in western Germany, involving scanning and photographing items at 150 frames per second, in 2020 the system will be installed in a conventional waste sorting plant.

The system, called HolyGrail has already involved a consortium of twenty of the world’s biggest brands, including Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Danone.

At home, individuals will be able to use an animated app on their cellphone to identify and place different types of plastic in the right trash cans.

Discover Solution 203: Iron fuel

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201: Furniture from Beer


Brewing grains used in making beer are only partially reused (for breeding, compost, human food, etc.). In 2017, 300 million tonnes ended up fermenting in a waste reception center (figure based on French beer consumption in 2017, i.e. 2 billion liters.)


Furniture made out of wasted brewing grains

Cabinet designer and maker Franck Grossel, 27 years old, of St.-Quentin, Hauts-de-France, France has founded Instead to convert grains into a wide range of variations (tables, bar stools, lamps, acoustic panels, particle boards, etc.) amplified by its technical characteristics (flexibility, resistance, malleability, impermeability, etc.)

Based on the colour of the beer brewed, from lager to dark stout, the colour of the furniture can be varied.

Instead was the 2020 laureate of the Banque Populaire Foundation.

What you can do: Purchase some beer grain furniture from Instead

Discover Solution 202: A barcode that makes recycling more efficient

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200: Fish skin leather

Welcome to and the 200th Solution from our one-a-day leap year’s worth of ideas, inventions and tips to take up and share for cleaning, up repairing and protecting our Planet.

The 81 solutions for new types of low carbon, recyclable and other Materials are only a beginning and are accompanied by 18 related to Carbon Capture, 70 solutions we have categorized as Planet Care, 40 in new Energy, 23 Mobility solutions, 49 that rely on just a little bit of collective Human Effort and 44 that you can utilize immediately in Your Home.

There are still 166 to come, and we hope you will join us by following on facebook, Instagram or twitter to find out about a new one each day.

Because there is something you can do, that your family and friends can do, that we all can do to clean up, repair and protect our planet. All it takes is the right solutions!

Read on for Solution 200!


Most edible fish is de-skinned and the skin thrown away.


Having earned their degrees in chemical engineering, Benjamin Malatrait and Gauthier Lefébure spent three years researched a solution achieve chromium-free vegetable tanning of fish skins recovered from Japanese restaurants in Paris, which they called “Cuir Marin de France” marine leather.

They named their first product “Squama”, highly quality flaked salmon leather, soon followed by sturgeon leather and Dombes carp leather.

Naming their brand Ictyos (ichthys in Greek means fish), Malatrait and Lefébure collaborated with the Leather Centre at Lyon to finalize the development of the drum process before setting up its own 250m² premises – the first tannery to be created in more than 40 years in France – in Saint-Fons, the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of France.

Recycling fish skins locally and then from fish farmers across France, Ictyos marine leather is used for the making small leather goods, jewellery and watch-making markets. The first orders for salmon leather, mainly in black, red, blue, blue, gold and brown tones, are in progress.

What you can do: Visit the ICTYOS Shop to purchase a stylish product made of fish skin leather.

Discover Solution 201: Furniture made from beer grains

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199: Ice rink


Canada is home to nearly 8,000 indoor and outdoor ice arenas and the USA close behind with 2000 rinks, according to the International Ice Hockey Federation. All depend on electrically produced manmade ice, requiring high maintenance costs and energy consumption.


In 2010, Toni Vera, an ice hockey player and engineer of Seville, Spain was appalled by the enormous amounts of energy and water needed for the production of conventional ice.

He came up with a polyethylene compound laminated onto both sides of 2′ X 4′ plywood panels, that are laid in a brick interlocking’ pattern with imperceptible seams. When one side wears out, the panels can be flipped over and the other side used. Vera’s solution uses no power, water, chemicals or resurfacing equipment to operate and offers an ecological and economical alternative to refrigerated ice.

Vera was joined by Viktor Meier of Lucerne, Switzerland to start up Glice which since 2012, has installed more than 2,000 Glice Eco Skating Rinks in more 85 countries from classical winter sport nations to the tropics.

One example was Mexico City, when on December 16, 2019 the world’s largest skating rink was on the city’s main square, known as Zócalo. Compared to a conventional ice rink of the same size, this 43,000 square foot Glice rink saved 49,000 gallons (360,000 litres) of water and eliminate electrical energy consumption equal to about 4,000 average households.

That represents a reduction of about 95 tons of CO2 emissions connected with electrical power generation. This Zócalo rink was installed in less than 24 hours; in contrast a refrigerated rink of this size can take weeks to install.

Other companies marketing synthetic ice are Xtraice, and PolyGlide Ice.

REALice, developed and patented by Curt Hallberg and Morten Ovesen at Watreco Ab in Åkarp, Sweden is Vortex process, air bubble-free water treatment system that uses unheated water to resurface ice rinks, reducing an arena’s natural gas usage by 79% and its electricity consumption by 12% – all without sacrificing ice quality. More than 300 ice arenas across the globe use the technology.

Through REALice technology, Ice Box Arena, in Kamloops, British Columbia, has conserved about 55,000 kWh of electricity, enough to power a home for almost five years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Discover Solution 200: Fishskin leather

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Materials Planet Care

190: Spray-on soil


Every year 30 million ac (12 million ha) of productive land are lost due to desertification and drought. By 2025 1.8 billion people will suffer absolute water scarcity and 2/3 of the world will experience water-stressed conditions.


Spray-on soil. An inorganic binder with static electric charge and a homogenised dispersion of clay particle consisting substantially of single flakes of clay and air bubbles dispersed in a fluid.

In 2005, Kristian P. Olesen, a veteran in the HVAC industry, based in Stavengar, Norway developed a mixture of clay and water called Liquid Nano Clay.  Olesen’s vision and that of Desert Control, the firm he founded with Atle Idlund, is to “Make Earth Green Again”.

Sprinklers are used to spray the LNC 1.6 ft (0.5 m) into the sand. The binder composition of clay and air bubbles then helps the sand hold water so crops can be grown.

One major use of the binder composition is to reclaim arid and hyper-arid deserts and to prevent desertification and the movement and advancement of sand dunes, in other words stopping wind erosion efficiently. With this process any poor-quality sandy soil could be transformed into high-yield agricultural land in only seven hours.

In a field test made using the world-patented LNC in the United Arab Emirates, two areas were planted with a selection of crops: tomatoes, aubergines and okra.

One was treated with LNC while a second control area was left untreated. While the untreated area used almost 4838 ft³ (137 m³). of water for irrigation, the one treated with LNC used just 2860 ft ³ (81 m³), an enable saving of up to 52% of irrigation water and increase yields with less strain on scarce resources.

Using LNC, deserts have been planted with over ten thousand trees, wheatfields, pepper fields. Other successful tests took place in Pakistan and China.

Olesen proposes that the biomass produced from desert-grown plants could provide clean electricity to power the desalinisation plants from which water could be used to irrigate the green deserts.

Among the awards received by Olesen and his son is the World Wildlife Foundation’s acclamation of Desert Control as a Climate Solver.

Discover Solution 191: Beating guns into plowshares, watches and writing pens

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Energy Materials

188: Hospitals zero emission


Hospitals pollute due to their facilities, electricity use, vehicles, and supply chains for medicines and medical devices.


Zero-emission hospitals

The United Kingdom’s National Health Service has launched an ambitious plan to eliminate nearly all of its carbon emissions by 2040

A 76-page plan, “Delivering a ‘Net Zero’ National Health Service, forwarded by Sir Simon Stevens, NHS Chief Executive includes a range of solutions:

  • to cut out single-use plastics;
  • reuse and refurbish devices;
  • to capture and reuse anesthetic gases,
  • to find alternative products with a smaller impact on the planet; and
  • ask suppliers to make the same net-zero pledge;
  • to generate renewable energy and heat onsite: to process and recycle waste;
  • to replace less efficient lights with LEDs to save energy; to introduce fleets of zero-emission ambulances by 2032; and
  • to build 40 new “net-zero” hospitals to run more cleanly and efficiently.


L’Assistance Public-Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP) whose 39 hospitals receive 8.3 million patients per year, has launched a appeal for projects to accelerate their eco-transition.


Landspitali, the National University Hospital of Iceland, has substantially reduced its carbon footprint by increasing eco-friendly travel to and from work from 21% to 40% of employees. Through the design of a green travel agreement, Landspitali has created economic and health gains for its employees while minimising CO2.


Bhagat Chandra Hospital, a multispecialty, 85 bed facility in Dwarka, New Delhi, India has achieved considerable financial and environmental benefits by transitioning to solar energy, conserving approximately 93 000 kg CO2 emissions since 2016. Through a coordinated, hospital-wide initiative, Bhagat Chandra has installed 50 kW solar panels that connect to the electrical system and reduce 20-30% of its energy consumption.


Through a different approach, the Buddhist Tzu-Chi Dialysis Center in Malaysia has reduced its carbon footprint by promoting vegetarianism and using reusable food containers. Implementing an “only vegetarian” policy since the centre opened in 1997, the centre saves 4.9 kg of CO2 emissions for every kg of tofu served in place of chicken. They have also seen major falls in carbon footprint by reducing the use of plastic bags

Kaiser Permanente, an integrated managed care consortium based in Oakland, California, USA, has made concerted efforts to purchase environmentally responsible computers. It has been able to reduce the use of toxic materials and energy, resulting in energy cost savings of $4m a year

Discover Solution 189: Why hotspot zones, rich in fauna and flora are so vital for our Planet

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186: “Honext to Goodnex”


Cellulose residue taken from cardboard and paper waste generated at paper mills has already gone through several reuse cycles, meaning that the remaining cellulose fibres are too short to be bound together in order for it to be made into paper again. As a result, these fibres would typically end up in landfill or be burnt – a process that creates an estimated seven million tons waste globally each year.


Building material made from recycled paper sludge

Located in a waste treatment centre, in Vacarisses, Barcelona, Spain, Honext, founded in 2011, is a spin-off of the Polytechnic University of Catalunya for the industrialization of a patent process, product and application.

This transforms a residue (primary sludge) generated by the paper industry into a new cellulose-based material, sustainable, versatile, with excellent properties (reaction to fire, moisture, acoustic absorption, mechanical resistance, non-toxic) and multiple applications (construction, furniture and packaging).

The company mixes together waste cellulose fibres with water and enzymes – depending on the quality of the waste, a mixture of 50 to 75 % paper sludge and 25 to 50 % cardboard waste is used. The circular economy manufacturing process, in addition to using the sludge from paper mills as raw material, incorporates water coming from the local landfill leachate, as well as methane and electricity generated from the digestion from the town’s waste.

The Hontext factory will have an annual production capacity of 2,000 m3 of panels.

Discover Solution 187: Horses

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185: Hemp fibre


Hemp, or industrial hemp, is a strain of the Cannabis sativa plant species that is grown specifically for the industrial uses of its derived products. It is one of the fastest growing plants. Hemp requires no pesticides, consumes far less water than cotton, can be harvested in 3 months and returns nutrients into the soil after harvest.

According to a Stockholm Environment Institute study, hemp requires just 40% of the ecological footprint and 20% of the water as compared to cotton. Hemp paper has the potential to reduce deforestation as 1 ac (0.4 ha) of hemp will produce as much pulp for paper as 4 ac (1.6 ha) of trees over a 20 year period. Hemp makes its case in a world that’s yearning for things more natural and organic.

Hemp fabric, going back to 8000 BC, was found in Mesopotamia (current day Iraq), but for possibly the last 12,000 years hemp has been grown and processed for its fibres and food. Centuries later, hemp fibre and oil also went into making riggings, pendants, pennants, sails, and oakum. Maps, logs, and even the bibles that sailors brought on board were all made using hemp paper.

In the USA, from 1937, hemp was strictly regulated by the Marijuana Tax Act, largely due to confusion with other kinds of cannabis. Hemp could only be grown through specially issued government tax stamps, making any type of possession/transfer without a tax stamp illegal. In 1970, the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act went into effect abolishing the taxation approach of the Marijuana Tax Act, effectively making all cultivation of cannabis illegal by setting a zero tolerance for THC. Thus it went out of favour.

Since the late 1990s there has been a revival of industrial hemp in France, Europe and Canada. This is due to rising oil prices, material recycling requirements and environmental awareness. Every part of the plant is useful — fibre, stalk, seed, flower, everything — and lends itself to applications as diverse as clothing, construction, paper, composites, health foods, body care and biofuel. For example, Hempcrete or Hemplime is bio-composite material, a mixture of hemp hurds (shives) and lime (possibly including natural hydraulic lime, sand, or pozzolans) which is used as a material for construction and insulation.

France is currently the European leader with an annual hemp (chanvre) production of 55 000 tons (100 000 tonnes in the European Union) and the world’s largest variety of certified industrial seeds. The European Community subsidized the cultivation of non-psychotropic hemp varieties from 1988 onwards. After reaching a minimum level around the 1960s, with less than 600 ha cultivated, hemp cultivation in France now occupies 31,000 ac (12,500 ha), or 0.03% of the agricultural area used.

Created in 2013 the LCBio association is based in the Pays de Caux in Normandy, an area known to be one of the most suitable in the world for growing hemp and flax. LCBio brings together organic flax and hemp producers and processors according to three colleges of members: organic farmers, cooperative and private enterprises and partner institutions. Flax and hemp are two fibers which can be grown and treated under the same conditions.

The association also sets itself the task of creating a textile flax industry that complies with the Bio and GOTS label and of determining a technical itinerary for hemp, whose cultivation is undergoing a revival, in order to obtain a straw that can be scutched on the linen tools and a quality of fibre that meets the requirements of the textile industry. Eventually, LCBio hopes to be able to set up complete French organic flax and hemp textile chains.

Cavac Biomatériaux at Sainte-Gemme-la-Plaine near Luçon in the Vendée is part of a cooperative producing items in hemp and flax, grown inside a range of 60 mi (100 km) around the factory by farmers from the cooperative. Cavac Biomatériaux has three 100% automatic producing lines and a 40,360 ft² (3,750 m²) drying barn.

Elsewhere in France, Jean Foyer, creator of Qairos Energie in the Sarthe region has devised a solution where fields of hemp plants will become a source of hydrogen.

The harvested hemp is crushed and heated to a very high temperature. Heat transforms it into gas from which methane, hydrogen and carbon dioxide can be extracted. This process is non-polluting and without waste.

Each gas extracted is then resold. Synthetic methane is injected into France’s national gas network. Hydrogen is converted into electricity in fuel cells for vehicles, for example. And the locally produced and green CO2 is sold to the food industry

Six first “pioneers” have signed a contract with Qairos for an area of ​​125 acres (50 hectares) for 2021. The objective is to achieve, for a perfect balance, 2,470 acres (1000 hectares) over a radius of 22miles (35 kilometres) around the first production unit at the Le Mans metropolitan hub.

If successful, 150 farmers from the Fermiers de Loué cooperative are ready to cultivate an area of ​​865 acres (350 hectares) in the first yearOn the Pacific Northwest, in the Coast Range of Oregon, Shannon Welsh and Angela Wartes-Kahl, working with local farmers, scientists, businesses, artisans, and partnering with Oregon State University have founded Fibrevolution to revive hemp and flax linen in their region.


Hemp clothes are made by CaVVaS Ltd.  located in Cluj Napoca. The raw fiber is separated by traditional methods of water retting, breaking, scutching, and hackling. This produces the high quality long fiber that is first spun on special long fiber spinning equipment (up to 14 Nm) and then woven.

The main difference in the spinning process between hemp fibers processed using chemical methods and fibers from organic methods is generally the length of the hemp fiber and the spinning machines that are required to spin the long fiber organic hemp and the short fiber, chemically processed hemp. After the weaving process, the resulting loomstate fabrics are washed with ecological detergents or sometimes just with plain water and treated afterwards.

Drying temperature level differs from fabric to fabric, depending on its thickness, in order to avoid burning or weakening the strength of yarns’ structure.


The Bombay Hemp Company (Boheco), the Namrata Hemp Co, B.E. Hemp, Arture, Hempster and HempCann all make a whole range of products with raw materials are currently imported from overseas by these brands, with China and Italy being prominent suppliers.


Henry Ford’s Model T was famously made partly from hemp bioplastic and powered by hemp biofuel. During the 1960s, several million German Trabant 500 automobile were manufactured using “Baumwolle” (cotton) with a thermo-setting resin of plant origin.

In 2014, using a process known as hydrothermal synthesis, a team led by Dr David Mitlin of Clarkson University, New York, ‘cooked’ leftover hemp bark fibers (shiv) into carbon nanosheets (10-30 nm in thickness). They then recycled the fibers into “ultrafast” super capacitors whose energy density of 12 Wh/kg, can be achieved at a charge time less than six seconds. In a Volts by Amps curve of both the hemp and lithium batteries, the power underneath the hemp cell was a value of 31 while that of the lithium cell had a value of just 4.

Hemp outperformed graphene supercapacitors in energy storage by nearly 200% while hemp processing is 1,000 times cheaper than graphene processing. In 2018, Alternet Systems, Inc. announced that it would be teaming up with Mitlin to power motorbikes for its Texas-based ReVolt Electric Motorbikes subsidiary.

The company announced a hemp battery and motorcycle frame body initiative in conjunction with its longer-term plans to build electric delivery vehicles for the African market, beginning with a fleet order for an initial 50 electric motorcycles to be delivered in Texas. (

Panda Biotech in Dallas, Texas was formed after the passage of the federal Hemp Farming Act signed into law by former President Donald Trump on December 20, 2018. Panda Biotech has developed the most technologically advanced, highest capacity and first-of-its-kind industrial hemp decorticating equipment ever used to separate the fiber and cellulose from the stalk. This is based on smaller versions of proven decortication technology that have been used throughout Asia and Europe for decades.

In December 2019, Panda Biotech announced they were going to build a 255,000 ft² (23,700 m²) production facility called the Panda High Plains Hemp Gin at Shallowater, in Lubbock County, Texas, where production of high-quality, textile-grade fibre and premium cellulose was expected to start within 12 months.

The processed fiber and cellulose from industrial hemp will be used in the production of a multitude of products including textiles, a wide array of building materials, paper products, automobile composites, nanomaterials, bio-plastics and finishing products such as caulking, sealants, varnishes and paints.

With this, industrial hemp is poised to transform numerous multi-billion-dollar industries.

Discover Solution 186:  Building blocks  from paper sludge

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184: Hanger for coats


In the US, everyday over 15.5 million plastic, wood and wire hangers are thrown away, resulting in 8 billions every year. In the UK 100 million plastic hangers are discarded each year.


Biodegradable clothes hangers.

Mainetti of San Quirico d’Orcia  is the world’s largest garment hanger manufacturing company, with a portfolio that also includes packaging, branding, and supply chain solutions, Mainetti works with international retail and apparel brands.

In the 1960s, Mainetti pioneered hanger recycling — each reclaimed hanger reduces carbon emissions by at least 80% compared with new plastic hangers.

The company is now aiming to convert 60% of hanger production, by tonnage, to recycled materials by 2025. These are made of WPC (wood-plastic composite), a recycled material made with a mix of recycled wood fibres from sawmills or woodworking industries and thermoplastic materials. At the end of the circular journey, they can reuse these thermoplastics by shredding or heating them and bringing them to life in another recycled form, such as lunch boxes, tubes or the backrest in backpacks.

In 2020 Israeli recycler UBQ Materials announced a collaboration with Mainetti to transform household waste into sustainable clothes hangers for the fashion industry. The partnership aims to make use of UBQ Materials’ patented technology which claims to be the first to create a bio-based substitute for oil-based plastics entirely from unsorted household waste.

The resulting products, currently pending Cradle-to-Cradle (C2C) certification, are claimed to reduce methane emissions and groundwater contamination by diverting waste from landfill, while creating a novel raw material with a climate positive impact.

What you can do: Buy biodegradable clothes hangers.

Discover Solution 185: The many uses for hemp

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183: Hair dyes


When commercial dyes containing ammonia and paraphenylenediamine are rinsed out of hair they may end up in local waterways harming aquatic life


Natural hair colour or natural dyes.

For a zero-waste solution, Henna, made from the flowers of the Lawsonia inermis shrub, has been used since antiquity to dye skin, hair and fingernails, as well as fabrics including silk, wool and leather. grows in hot climatic conditions and is widely grown in the Arabian Peninsula, Indian subcontinent, Near and Middle East, Carthage, other parts of North Africa and the Horn of Africa.

Compound henna, which includes indigo, cloves or coffee is used to turn hair a colour other than red. In the Indian state of Haryana, Faridabad-based henna manufacturers are famous for producing the best natural hair dyes and have a large export network in the Middle East and far East and in countries like Japan, Korea, Madagascar, Kenya, and the Philippines.

What you can do: Either do not be ashamed of your natural hair colour, or use henna.

Tomorrow’s solution: Why clothes hangers need not be immortal

Discover Solution 184: Hangers for coats

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180: Green Production Guide


The audiovisual sector emits about 1 million tonnes CO2 equivalent in the atmosphere each year, of which about a quarter is directly related to filming.


Make the entertainment industry sustainable

A study into the environmental impact of film-making in Hollywood, conducted by the University of California, showed that, in the Los Angeles region, it made a larger contribution, in relation to its size, to air pollution than most major industries, including aerospace manufacturing, clothing, and the hotel industry.

The discussion of sustainability in film began in the early 1990s, as reported in The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. In 2008 when free-lance producers and film-makers, Mari Jo Winkler, Lydia Dean Pilcher and Katie Carpenter of the East Coast PGA (Producers’ Guild of America) established PGA Green “as a means to actively encourage and support sustainability in the entertainment industry,” including environmentally friendly practices when productions shoot on location.

In 2010, “The Green Production Guide” was established to help reduce the entertainment industry’s carbon footprint and environmental impact.

It was developed by the Producers Guild of America Foundation and with primary support from NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS, Amblin Partners, Sony Pictures Entertainment, HBO, Netflix, Amazon Studios, Disney, WarnerMedia, 20th Century Studios, CBS & Participant Media.

Its toolkit offers free resources to film and television professionals looking to lower their environmental impact. Tools include a carbon calculator which tracks use of high-impact purchases such as water and paper, a database of eco-friendly vendors, and a fast-track to obtaining a “Green Seal” of approval from the Environmental Media Association (EMA).

It also includes a comprehensive database of vendors including info about their services, experience, and locations.

The website additionally offers a Production Environmental Accounting Report (PEAR) that can be downloaded to aid production in analyzing their carbon footprint and the Production Environmental Actions Checklist (PEACH), which clarifies best practices in the industry.

Globally, many film studios have adopted sustainability initiatives, including the “Big Five” of Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures, Warner Bros., Columbia Pictures, and Paramount Pictures. As well as large television production studios like CBS

As one example, “Downton Abbey”, a British historical drama television series set in the early 20th century, watched by over 10 million viewers worldwide.

When filming in the United Kingdom, the “Downton Abbey” film’s production team did a number of things to reduce their footprint including sending call sheets, scripts, and production documents electronically, no disposable food service products on site, and recycling/composting.

In addition, Carnival Films stored sets from the six seasons of the television series “Downton Abbey” that production was able to re-use or re-purpose to save the consumption of new materials.

Disposables were also saved by issuing the crew reusable water bottles and the sound department used reusable batteries.

At the conclusion of production, the costume department donated $800 worth of fabric and materials to the Wimbledon College of Arts. Storage boxes and hangers were donated to local sewing and flower shops and set decoration donated produce to The Hounslow Urban Farm to be used to feed animals. For these solutions, “Downton Abbey” received a 2019 EMA Green Seal.

Discover Solution 181: Greener computers

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176: Blast furnace slag cement


The rapid extraction and heavy-exploitation of sand from river beds in India and Sri Lanka for use as concrete and mortar in the construction industry is causing many problems such as losing water retaining soil strata, deepening of the river loss of vegetation on the bank of rivers, beds and causing bank slides, disturbing the aquatic life as well as disturbs agriculture due to lowering the water table in the well.


Granulated blast furnace slag as a substitute for river sand

In 1937 Joseph L. Parker and Clarence H. Starns at the Southern Cement Company in Birmingham, Alabama innovated a process for using blast furnace slag, puzzolan and the like in the making of concrete.

Over in Great Britain, the following year, Stanley Dunn and Victor Lefebure at Imperial Chemical Industries took out a patent for the manufacture of cements from calcium sulphate and blast furnace slag. It made sense: On average, in the process of making 1 ton (1 tonne) of steel around 1,300-1,500lbs (600-700 kg.) of by-product is produced, mostly slag.

Ground-granulated blast-furnace slag (GGBS or GGBFS) is obtained by quenching molten iron slag (a by-product of iron and steel-making) from a blast furnace in water or steam, to produce a glassy, granular product that is then dried and ground into a fine powder.

GGBS cement can be added to concrete in the concrete manufacturer’s batching plant, along with Portland cement, aggregates and water. GGBS is used as a direct replacement for sand, on a one-to-one basis by weight. Replacement levels for GGBS vary from 30% to up to 85%. Typically 40 to 50% is used in most instances.

The sand substitute is currently in use by ECOCEM Materials, collaborating with ArcelorMittal Méditerranée, is the first independent producer of GGBS in Europe. The aim is to produce concrete with lower environmental impact: 1 ton (1 tonne) of ground slag in the concrete industry avoids the emission of 1653 lb (750 kg) of CO₂ due to the production of Portland cement.

A growing number of major projects are using Ecocem GGBS, such as the A89 motorway, the ITER project, the LVG SEA, the Odeon tower in Monaco, the Smartseille urban project, the Marseillaise tower, the ENS Saclay project, the Hekla tower, and the Condorcet campus.

In Korea, the steelmaker POSCO (Posco Engineering & Construction) is using GGBS to produce an eco-friendly, high-function cement named PosMent that has a high level of chloride invasion resistance and reduces hydration heat, applicable to to large structures and marine structures that are prone to crack. In 2014, 1.37 million tons (1.24 million tonnes) of PosMent was used in construction.

By using a total of 11.8 million tons (10.69 million tonne) of slag for PosMent production, Posco estimates it has reduced 9.2 million tons (8.39 million tonne) of carbon dioxide when compared to GHG produced in the making of regular cement.

Discover Solution 177: Desalinating water with graphene

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172: Bottle Factory


The major environmental impact of glass production is caused by atmospheric emissions from melting activities. The combustion of natural gas/fuel oil and the decomposition of raw materials during the melting lead to the emission of CO2.

Sulphur dioxide (SO2) from the fuel and/or from decomposition of sulphate in the batch materials can contribute to acidification. Nitrogen oxides (NOx) due to the high melting temperatures and in some cases due to decomposition of nitrogen compounds in the batch materials also contribute to acidification and formation of smog.


Furnace of the Future.

In March 2020, the 20 most important European packaging glassmakers have come together around the “Furnace of the future” project to invent less energy-consuming ovens and improve their environmental footprint.

The 20 companies in the Furnace of the future project are:

This new generation of furnace will operate using an oxycombustion process and 80% renewable electricity to replace gas. With this new technology, the industry will be able to produce more than 300 tonnes per day in different shades, using high levels of recycled glass.

Ardagh, the second largest producer of glass packaging in the world, will be the first to test this technology at their factory in Oberkirchen (Low saxony), Germany. The pilot will be built in 2022 and an evaluation of the first results is already scheduled for 2023.

Discover Solution 173: A global carbon tax

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Materials Mobility

171: Light weight glass bottles


Heavy glass requires more energy to transport it.


In 2013 Rawlings of Bristol, England, the leading independent glass packaging specialist, with a strong heritage and reputation for sustainable quality, was selected by social enterprise to deliver on the challenge of developing the lightest weight glass bottle for mineral water in the UK.

Belu was founded in 2004 by film maker Reed Paget as an environmentally friendly bottled water business. Reed launched the UK’s first compostable plastic bottle in 2006. Now Belu want to take the next step.

In the 1950s, S. Donald Stookey of the Corning Glass Works had accidentally invented Vitrelle, a lightweight tempered glass product consisting of two types of glass laminated into three layers, which could be used not just to make the nose cone of a missile but also to contain a casserole in both a refrigerator and hot oven. A typical Corelle dinner plate measured 10 in (26 cm) in diameter and weighs 12.5 ounces (355 gm).

Rawlings now teamed up with Owens-Illinois (O-I) in Toledo, USA who had developed a revolutionary new process that substantially reduces the amount of glass needed to reduce the weight of the previous lightweight 1.6 pint and 0.6 pint (750 ml and 330 ml) bottles both by 7 oz (20 g). Rawlings trademarked this as Ethical Glass.

To translate this weight saving into potential environmental gains, Belu have been able to save 937 tons (850,000 kg) of glass annually, equivalent to 2.1 million wine bottles and reduce their carbon emissions by 11%, the equivalent to saving the same amount of carbon associated with 7,000 nights in an average-sized UK hotel.

In addition to the bottle’s impressive environmental credentials, a royalty of up to 4 cents has been donated to WaterAid for each bottle purchased from Belu so enabling the company to generate over US$ 6,350,000 (£,500,000) helping more than 38,000 people without water.

Ethical Glass has not been retained exclusively for Belu – it is also being made available to other mineral water companies in a bid to lower the industry’s carbon footprint. (

Verallia which produces about 16 billion glass bottles and pots for 10,000 clients around the world have produced their Ecovà range up to 30% lighter in weight. With the production of a billion containers, Ecovà has saved 100,000 tons (91,000 tonnes) of raw materials and has reduced CO2 emissions by about 18%, including transportation.

Another approach is to make the glass (literally) greener.

Glass produced from recycled scrap (or “cullet”) creates 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution than glass made from raw materials. According to a study conducted by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap), switching from clear glass to green cuts packaging-related CO2 emissions by 20%.

This is due to the higher recycled content in green glass bottles, which is as much as 72.4%, against an industry standard of 28.9%. The study also revealed that bottling gin, white wine and brandy in green glass had a negligible impact on consumers’ perception of taste, and increasing the recycled content of the glass actually improved consumers’ opinion of both retailers and the products.

Discover Solution 172: Bottle factory

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Materials Planet Care

164: Forest Stewardship Council


Irresponsible logging and forest destruction has robbed the Planet of a Nature-based carbon capture system. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, half of the world’s forests have already been altered, degraded, destroyed or converted into other land uses. Much of the remaining forests today suffer from illegal exploitation and otherwise poor management.


The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo on a wood or wood based product is your assurance that it is made with, or contains wood that comes from FSC certified forests or from post-consumer waste. There are three types of FSC label: 100%, FSC Mix or FSC Recycled.

FSC grew out of the International Tropical Timber Agreement (1983), the Convention of International Trade on Endangered Species (1975) and the Global Environment Facility (1991). After 18 months of consultation in ten different countries, the Forest Stewardship Council was finally established in 1993 in the forested region of Oaxaca, Mexico. In 1995, the US chapter of the FSC was established, and is now headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 2003, the FSC Secretariat it was relocated to Bonn, Germany.

Since its inception, FSC has gone from strength to strength. FSC Chain-of-Custody certification traces the path of products from forests through the supply chain, verifying that FSC-certified material is identified or kept separated from non-certified material throughout the chain. The number of certificates issued in both forest management and chain of custody, have increased exponentially, passing a total of 20,000 Chain of Custody certificates in 2011, and a further total of 30,000 in 2016. (

What you can do: If you a considering building something or having something built in wood, make sure that it has the FSC certificate.

Discover Solution 165: 4IR industrial revolution

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163: Bioplastic food wrap


Cling film, shrink wrap, cling wrap or food wrap has been universally used in kitchens around the world. Some studies refer to health problems regarding phtahlates (a chemical plasticizer that makes PVC softer and more flexible), which can pass into food. The other big problem of this material, is that only a few centers can  recycle it so it ends up in landfills or the sea.


Biodegradable food wrap

Adapting with NatureWorks’s Ingeo bio-plastic, MetalVuoto of Braganza, Italy, active in the production of metallised and lacquered barrier films for food packaging have developed Oxaqua or Ingeo Propylester, a high-barrier biodegradable film designed to keep processed foods fresh on store shelves.

More organic is Bee’s Wrap, created by Sarah Kaeck of Middlebury, Vermont. In 2012, Kaeck, a mother of three who had been, by turns, an avid gardener, milker of goats, keeper of chickens, and seamstress started with a question facing many families and home cooks: How could we eliminate plastics in our kitchen in favour of a healthier, more sustainable way to store our food?

What she developed is a lost tradition made new again.
By infusing organic cotton muslin with beeswax, organic jojoba oil, and tree resin, she created a washable, reusable, and compostable alternative which could be sealed by the warmth of the hands.

( the early days, Sarah hand-waxed each sheet of of the concoction onto every wrap by hand herself, and even when she had been joined by five women from the Middlebury community, for months the comforting scent of beeswax filled Sarah’s home.

Moving to nearby Bristol, Bee’s Wrap have since designed a custom machine to coat their organic fabrics. The production is available in more than 2,400 stores across the United States and can be found in the gift, grocery, housewares, and outdoor markets. Bee’s

Wrap is also distributed internationally throughout the UK, Europe, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and parts of Asia.

In 2019, Bee’s Wrap became a Certified B Corp, recognized as one of the select companies scoring in the top 10 % in the Environment category of the B Impact Assessment.

What you can do: Buy and use biodegradable food wrap.

Discover Solution 164: Taking care of forests

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161: Drinking water from fog


Drinking water is becoming a rare commodity. Industrial development is filling our rivers, seas and oceans with toxic pollutants which are a major threat to human health.

In some regions, such as in the Atacama and Namib desert. it almost never rains, leaving a challenge to find drinking water. Lima, Peru, is at high risk for water shortages. With a population of 10 million, the world’s second-largest desert city receives a paltry 0.3 inches of rain each year, and relies on just three rivers to provide drinking water to residents.


Fog-catching nets

In 2009, German man-and-wife conservationists Kai Tiedemann and Anne Lummerich helped the residents of Bellavista, Peru, plant 800 new river she-oak trees, such as those seen above, with water collected from fog-catching nets.

During their research they found that trees with vertical, needle-like leaves work as an organic net to which drops of water adhere. As part of their “Green Desert Project”, they later went on to develop artificial nets that could also capture water. With large sheets of mesh strung up on hillsides, it is possible to harvest the thick mists that drift across the arid Peruvian landscape.

Tiny droplets condense on the netting and dribble down into pipes that carry the water into containers where it can be used to irrigate crops or even as drinking water. Each net can capture between 200-400 litres of fresh water every day, providing a new source of water for communities that have had no easy access to regular supplies.

Abel Cruz has founded an organisation to help supply water to desert communities in South America called ‘Peruanos Sin Agua’ (‘Peruvians without Water’). This has helped to install more than 2,000 of these fog catching nets providing fresh water access to 60,000 people in eight rural communities across Peru as well as in Bolivia, Colombia and Mexico.

This has enabled greening drought areas for agriculture: raising chickens, cultivating figs, grapevines and olives. In the provinces of Cusco, Tacna, Arequipa, the water is for human consumption. In areas where there is little air pollution, the water from fog catchers is pure – but in more urban areas the water must be treated before drinking. (

Elsewhere in Chile, architects Alberto Fernandez and Susana Ortega have designed angular kite-like structures as well as huge, spiral-shaped fog harvesting towers that aim to create a large surface area to collect water from as high as possible in the fog. A another project in Chile, called “Proyecto Niebla”, uses 3D structures to enable the collection of fog regardless of the wind direction.

Can bio mimicry be used to harvest water? Biologist Miguel Galvez of Brighton, Massachusetts was inspired by the body of the Namib Desert darkling beetle (Coleoptera, Tenebrionidae) which hydrates itself by using a patchwork of water-attracting and water-repelling regions on its shell to capture and drink water droplets from the air.

In 2011, Galvez and Deckard Sorensen started up NBD (Namib Beetle Design) Technologies in Boston to make devices that could collect water from humidity in the air, an idea often described as a kind of “self-filling water bottle.”

Realising that there was a much more promising market in the industrial sector, NBD began to work with big companies that might want to use its technology to improve their products—anticorrosive paints, waterproofed electronics, and machines that handle a lot of water.

NBD obtained a federal grant to explore whether its specialized coatings can improve the performance of steam condensers, which are used by electric power plants and desalinization facilities to convert steam into liquid water.

NBD became the global leader in surface modifying coatings and additives for advanced liquid wettability. For large-scale water harvesting NBD obtained a second federal grant to determine whether it can improve the performance of “fog nets,” a water-collecting wire mesh that pulls condensation from the air and collects it as liquid water.

With an increased R&D team, NBD has produced a new kind of nanotechnology polymer, which can be manipulated to make it either hydrophobic or hydrophilic depending on the needs of a potential customer.

In 2017, NBD Nano introduced the first in its line of RepelShell products, an injection-grade additive that makes plastic surfaces highly repellent to water, dirt, mud, and ice. Immediate applications for NBD’s patented RepelShell for plastics include mud- and water-resistant athletic footwear, anti-stain electronics, self-cleaning non-woven fibers, and anti-stain textiles.

Discover Solution 162: BPA-free food cans

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155: Flash Graphene


The production of graphene has been held back due to cost.


Flash graphene

A team lead by James M. Tour, nanotechnologist and both Professor of Materials Science and NanoEngineering, and Professor of Computer Science at Rice University in Houston, Texas, United States have developed a solution which can swiftly transform carbon from any source: food waste, plastic waste, petroleum coke, coal, wood clippings and biochar into bulk graphene flakes.

Flash graphene is made in 10 milliseconds by heating carbon-containing materials to 3,000 Kelvin (about 2,727° C). The team at Rice University hope to produce 2.2 lb (1 kg) (a day of flash graphene within two years, starting with a project recently funded by the Department of Energy to convert U.S.-sourced coal inexpensively into a much-higher-value building material.

In January 2021, the team at Rice turned their attention to Joule heating pyrolyzed plastic ash, a byproduct of plastic recycling processes so producing turbostratic graphene flakes. These can be directly added to other substances like films of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) that better resist water in packaging and cement paste and concrete, dramatically increasing their compressive strength.

Adding graphene from ash to Portland cement and concrete to produce stronger concrete means less concrete needs to be used in structures and roads. That curtails energy use and cuts pollutants from its manufacture.

Discover Solution 156: Floating schools

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151: Forest Fire-resistant home


In 2018 some 24,226 buildings were destroyed in Californian wildfires During the bushfire season 2019-2020 more than 2,500 homes were destroyed. The 2020 fires in California destroyed at least 4,100 structures.


Materials which resist forest fires

In June 2009, not long after Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires claimed 173 lives and destroyed more than 2,000 houses, a group of architects came together to help those who had been affected.

As part of the Victorian bushfire reconstruction and recovery authority’s “We will Rebuild” initiative, they offered free consultations and 19 customisable pro bono designs, which were environmentally sustainable and met the “higher end” of the building standards for those in bushfire prone areas. Surprisingly only a few of those homes were built.

In such zones, highly fire-resistant materials are a must for building designs which are devoid of vents or roof overhangs where embers can penetrate or become trapped. Use refractories such as bricks and ICFs (insulated concrete forms), polystyrene blocks that fit together like Lego to form a house’s shell.

Filled with concrete, one of the most fire and heat-resistant of construction materials—ICFs create solid insulated walls that lock out sound and weather. They can reportedly withstand a fire for up to four hours.

For roofs, black ceramic house tiles or other fire rated roofing materials are designed to interlock tightly and are installed over a fire resistant cap sheet.

An additional solution are roll-down metal fire doors built into the roof overhangs or side recesses, and released automatically by fusible links. Then there are conspicuous sprinkler systems and leaf-shedding gutter designs

Discover Solution 152: microplastic-free sea fishing

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149: Fiberglass wind turbine blade recycling system


After a useful life of 25 years, almost one thousand 300ft (90m) wind turbine blades end up in a graveyard in Casper, Wyoming, USA. Normally each blade will be cut into three, and then the pieces will be stacked and buried in a landfill.


Fiberglass wind turbine blade recycling system

Ronald Albrecht and Don Lilly of Global Fiberglass Solutions in Bellevue, Washington have developed a solution which transforms fiberglass composite blades into Ecopolycrete. The process begins at the wind farm itself, where technicians from GFSI cut dismantle blades into more manageable 120 ft (37 m) chunks.

To minimize, if not eliminate, hazardous dust, GFSI uses wet wire blades that are thin and strong enough to slice each wind blade open as cleanly as a cantaloupe. Then the company sprays a light mist of water so that debris rains into a giant dustpan lying beneath the blade. Next dismantled blades are taken to nearby yards where they are shredded into raw fiberglass material.

A single blade yields about 15-20 bags of pellets, weighing between 700 lb (317 kg) and 1,000 lb (450 kg) each. The pellets can then be turned into injectable plastics, or highly waterproof boards that can be used as manhole covers, building panels and pallets. GFSI reuses 100 % of each blade. Even the bolts that circle the blade’s end section go to a metal salvage site for recycling. GFSI have also developed a programme to track blades throughout their life cycle, and make it easier to recycle them at the end.

Discover solution 150: Eco-friendly football club

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Mobility Materials

148: Fibreglass boat recycling system


Since fibreglass or glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) boatbuilding began in the late 1950s, there has been a steady accumulation of unrecyclable old hulls all over the yachting world, numbering in the millions. Some will be crushed and buried in landfills; others are simply abandoned on land, often in boatyards or dealer service yards, or left as derelicts along waterways, where they can harm the environment.


In 2007-2008 in the UK several trials were undertaken through the BeAware project (Built Environment Action on Waste Awareness and Resource Efficiency) to incorporate GRP waste into pre-cast concrete and rubber products.

With grinding, dimensions of the small resulting pieces ranged from 1 in (2.5 cm) to powder. That material could then be then be integrated into cement and therewith, be used in constructions.

The clinker was ground to form cement. Alumina and silica also have cementlike properties in an alkaline environment and are typically present in Portland cement at about 25%, and in much higher proportions in cement alternatives from fly-ash and slag. Boron, which is found in most E-glass, can cause a reduction in early strength during the setting of cement, but as long as proportions are kept low it is not considered a problem.

In 2010, Fiberline Composites of Middelfart, Denmark, a manufacturer of fibreglass and carbon fibre profiles signed a contract with two companies: Zajons in Germany, which specializes in converting waste to alternative fuels for industry and Holcim (Germany), subsidiary of the world leading cement manufacturer from Switzerland.

Under the contract, surplus fibreglass from Fiberline’s production in Denmark will be shipped south for use as a key constituent of cement. This breakthrough soon came to be used in other European countries, with an initial 10,000 hulls processed and recycled as part of several national and multinational marine industry programs.

Researchers at Windsheim University in the Netherlands have been testing out the re-use of such material to make piling sheets.

More recently both initiatives have begun in Canada and the USA. Transport Canada is financing Jeosal Materials Research Corporation working with Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario, under the Canadian Plastics Innovation Challenge to develop a possible solution for recycling fibreglass.

In New York State, the Rhode Island Marine Trade Association (RIMTA) has launched a Fiberglass Vessel Recycling Pilot Project, partnering with local boatyards for dismantling and crushing 22 to 33 tons (20 to 30 tonnes) of fiberglass for use by cement industry partners in South Carolina. While it is important to note that the RIFVR Pilot Project is just taking its nascent steps, if things go well, the project could eventually be rolled out regionally and nationally.

What you can do: Tell coastal and estuary authorities that they can now recycle abandoned fibre-glass hulls.

Discover Solution 149: Recycling wind turbine blades

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Materials Planet Care

147: Floating farm


Energy is used to transport farm produce from the countryside to towns and cities and to keep it fresh during transit.


A floating dairy farm

In June 2019, a Dutch property company called Beladon launched the world’s first floating dairy farm anchored to the ocean’s floor in the middle of Rotterdam’s Merwehaven harbour. 40 Meuse-Rhine-Issel cows are milked by Lely robots to produce 1700 pints (800 liters) of milk a day.

Peter van Wingerden, an engineer at Beladon, came up with the idea in 2012 when he was in New York working on a floating housing project on the Hudson River.

While there, Hurricane Sandy struck, flooding the city streets and crippling its transport networks. Deliveries struggled to get through and within two days it was hard to find fresh produce in shops. Seeing the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy van Wingerden was struck by the need for food to be produced as near as possible to consumers.

The top floor of the cow garden houses greenhouses for clover, grass, and other crops that feed the cows; the middle level is the animals’ floating home, a grassy enclosure meant to resemble a natural garden, but populated with artificial trees.

The cows called Karma, Courage, and Sustainabetty are free to roam in and out of their stalls, and also have the option to graze on solid ground in an adjacent field they can access via a ramp. Lely Robots provide them with fodder and brush them down. Finally, the bottom floor contains a processing plant, turning fresh milk into consumer products, including yogurt and, possibly, Comté-style cheese.

All of this futuristic food manufacturing is happening behind glass walls to literally emphasize transparency. School children and consumers are being invited to tour the farm and watch robots milk the cows and pick up their waste, which is used as fertilizer or converted into energy for on-site use.

To power it, the farm uses solar and wind energy from rooftop windmills and solar panels, while artificial trees with real ivy provide shade for the cows and reduce energy consumption by cooling the space.

One of the Dutch farming organizations that collaborated with Beladon is planning to take the same concept to other cities, and is already developing a floating vegetable and egg farm. Before they move on to chickens, however, they will hopefully have solved one current problem: what to do about that distinct animal farm odour.

The cows arrived on board in April 2019. No matter how much rain falls, no matter how high sea level goes, this farm can always produce life-essential, healthy food. By August, floating production was more than 160 gallons (600 litres) of milk a day.

Van Wingerden has talked to food companies and developers seeking to bring buoyant dairies to Singapore, Dubai, and New York.

Discover Solution 148: Fibreglass boat recycling system

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Planet Care Human Effort Materials

146: Faux fur


Should animals continue to be killed so their pelt is transformed into fur clothing? Since animal fur is treated with heavy dyes and chemicals including chromium and formaldehyde (both of which are highly toxic), it is slow to biodegrade. The bodies of fur animals are just wasted since they are not eaten, while their poop and blood are dumped into water systems as waste. Equally, faux fur made of plastics and acrylics is slow to biodegrade.


Artificial – “faux” – fur

Ecopel, a Franco-Chinese company, has developed a faux fur material made from recycled plastic bottles using a collection system internalized at the company’s mills in Asia. Ecopel works with more than 1,000 employees.

The fiber used, MODACrylic or polyester, allows the creation of a eco-friendly product. The resin is enriched with natural fibers such as cotton or hemp, to bring luster and softness. Ecopel is used by famous brands such as Gucci, Calvin Klein or Tommy Hillfiger and many others.

Fashion designer Stella McCartney OBE also uses a beauty-without-Cruelty Fur-Free-Fur product. In 2019, by Her own decision, the mink lining of a coat that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II wore to Slovakia in 2008 has been replaced with faux fur.

Bolt Threads,whose products are made using mushroom-based leather, are collaborating with McCartney, Kering (the fashion house behind brands like Belenciaga, Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Bottega Veneta) and Adidas to create consortium to create a new range of faux fur.

In Russia, Sergey Leonov at the School of Biological and Medical Physics, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology successfully bioengineered animal pelts and hides in petridishes. Such vertebrate cells used could come from an antelope, cheetah, chinchilla, crocodile, ermine, leopard, lynx, lion, marten, mink, sable, and stoat, indeed all species killed for their pelts. Marie Vlad has started up Furoid to make and sell the product.

What you can do: Do not use real fur unless it’s a hand-down, instead buy faux fur.

Discover Solution 147: Farms that float

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Materials Your Home

145: Recycling false teeth


Dental crowns, bridges, and PFMs are alloyed with gold, platinum, palladium, and silver, nylon and acrylic. When their wearer changes them or dies, they must be recycled in order not to end up in the landfill.


In 2006, Isao Miyoshi was running a dental laboratory in Sakado, Saitama Prefecture, Japan. Every day, he visited the dentistry department at the local Meikai University Hospital, where he collected dozens of plaster impressions of people’s gums and their remaining teeth. Back at Miyoshi’s lab, his 12 dental technicians then crafted new dentures as replacements for the patients’ lost teeth.

But then 63-year-old Miyoshi came up with a solution. In his lab, they were making about 30 new dentures a day. People on average get new dentures every three years, because the condition of their teeth changes. Once the new ones are made, dentists usually give the old ones back to the patients. But most people don’t know what to do with them and they end up keeping them in a drawer.

That’s really a waste of something useful.

What if he were to collect crowns, bridgework, dentures, inlays, clasps, gold teeth and other metal extractions, then remove the metals and re-sell them for recycling while discarding the rest.

With 5 grams of these alloys worth around 2,000 yen, once they are separated from the dentures recycle used dentures, if all of the 3.6 million dentures with precious metals discarded each year in Japan were recycled, they would be valued at up to 7 billion yen (roughly $83.3 million).

Miyoshi founded a non-profit Japan Denture Recycling Association and it was not long before the program was able to donate all its earnings to UNICEF and has since given over $400,000 to charity

Founded in 1892, Garfield Refining in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is one of the oldest and most respected precious metal refineries in the world. Recognized in North America as DentalTown’s “Best Dental Scrap Refiner” for 9 years in a row, for Garfield refining is recycling.

In England, Simple Refining, a family run company based in Cheshire, also specialises in gold refining and recycling of dental scrap. While in France a D3E (ou DEEE) dentaires are recycled Récyclum (formerly Recydent)

What you can do: Ensure that yours and your family’s false teeth etc are sustainably recycled.

Discover Solution 146: Faux fur

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Materials Human Effort Planet Care Your Home

143: Face masks – recycling


Face masks, part of personal protection equipment (PPE) in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, are also proving a major new source of pollution, with used masks seen littering streets, countryside and waterways across the world. Once used, they can be destroyed at CO2 producing hazardous incineration plants or landfilled, publicly and privately.


When Plaxtil in Chatelleraut, Vienne France was started up in 2017, it had specialised in the circular economy of recycling clothes by turning them into a plastic-like material. Since June 2020, it has transitioned to recycling masks.

First, they are collected and placed in “quarantine” for four days. They are then ground down into small pieces and subjected to ultraviolet light to ensure they are completely decontaminated before the recycling process begins. The masks could be turned into a vast array of different objects, but for the moment Plaxtil is turning them into products that can be used in the fight against Covid, such as plastic visors.

At first the French company collected 70,000 masks from the 50 collection points that we ourselves set up in the city, producing between 2,000 and 3,000 recycled products. Since July, overwhelmed with requests, Plaxtil has been in contact with the public authorities to set up a national mask recycling channel.(

Not far from Plaxtil, is Elise in Lille who have transitioned their conventional waste collection business (from paper to furniture, batteries or even computers) to make COVID-19 waste bins placed at around fifty collection points in Lille alone.

When the bags are full, they are carefully closed and picked up by Elise’s collectors then sent to their premises to be treated in energy recovery. Elise has been able to treat around 200,000 masks for a total weight of 739 kg.

A third company Cosmolys, also near Lille, recovers the polypropylene contained in the masks to produce granules for making garden furniture.

What you can do: Dispose of your masks in an eco-friendly manner.

Discover Solution 144: The Fairphone

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139: EnergyXchange


Electrically powered ceramic kilns, heated to temperatures of around 1000°C over ten hours, consume a great deal of energy. For just one firing, smaller kilns that operate on a 120-volt standard household outlet will typically draw between 1.5 and 1.8 kilowatts whereas a medium-sized kiln will draw around 5 kW or 8 kW.


From 1994, the decomposing garbage (approximately 40 to 60% methane) from a landfill outside Burnsville, nestled in the Black Mountains of western North Carolina, USA was transformed into a source of fuel for pottery kilns, glass furnaces, and greenhouse aided native plants.

Since 2000, the EnergyXchange (now called Earth to Sky Park) has provided rental studio space to over 20 resident artists in a Glass studio and a Clay studio. For the ceramic artists most of the attention has been focused on the gas-fired ceramic kiln which is fueled with the methane gas captured from the landfill.

Discover Solution 140: Enhanced rock weathering

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Materials Carbon Capture

131: Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (“EC3”)


Over the average 30-year lifecycle of a new building completed in 2019, roughly half if its carbon materials will come from embodied carbon. Considering that materials used for construction are estimated to consume 75 % of all new materials annually by volume, the case for reducing the carbon emissions embodied in building materials is clear.


For Skanska of New Jersey, the USA’s investment in addressing the embodied carbon challenge began in 2016, through its ongoing internal Innovation Grant program. Stacy Smedley, regional director of sustainability for Skanska’s building operations based in Seattle, Washington, received funding to research and establish embodied carbon benchmarks in partnership with the University of Washington’s Carbon Leadership Forum.

Working with with Phil Northcott of C Change Labs in Coquitlam, British Columbia, the program called was jointly seed-funded by Skanska and Microsoft.  They determined that a collaborative, open-source solution, backed by a comprehensive database of digitized Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs)  was the best way to maximize the impact of this groundbreaking tool in reducing global carbon emissions.

There are over 16,000 materials in the database, including concrete, steel and gypsum. Professionals, contractors, and owners needing actionable data to make informed decisions about climate impact and performance will benefit.

In the fall of 2019, Skanska launched the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (“EC3”) web tool for a non-profit alliance of AEC firms, manufacturers, foundations, and building owners including the Carbon Leadership Forum, American Institute of Architects, American Institute of Steel Construction, Skanska, Autodesk, Arup, Interface, the MKA Foundation, Charles Pankow Foundation, ACI Foundation, Microsoft and 30 other industry leaders. (

In 2020, Costain-Skanska Joint Venture (CSjv) and Skanska-Costain-Strabag have developed the EasyCabin EcoSmart ZERO for building sites, its hydrogen and solar power replacing the traditional diesel generator. to achieve Skanska’ commitment to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050.

What you can do: Inform builders and architects in your region about EC3

Discover Solution 132: Energy communities

Your Home Materials

130: Elevating house


IPCC scientists expect a warming world to lead to more extreme rainfall, exposing an additional 250,000 to 400,000 people in Europe to river flooding, and potentially up to 5.5 million per year to coastal flooding.


Since 2016, Tom Kelly and Graham Hicks of the UK-based Larkfleet Group, have been working on an experimental house that could rise on jacks above floodwaters. The 72 tons (65 tonne) house could be raised 4.5 ft. (1.5 m.) in less than five minutes.

In October 2017, South Holland District Council Planners gave permission for Larkfleet Homes in Lincolnshire, to build a test house in a paddock in Weston Hills near Spalding. Oddly, the developers, who believe it is the world’s first such home, have not been allowed to place it on a flood plain. If tests are successful the house could provide a model that would enable housebuilding on thousands of sites across the UK which at present cannot be developed because of the risk of flooding.

Once built, experiments with raising and lowering the house, including testing long-term maintenance and operation of the jacking system, will take place. Because the house will be of modular steel-frame design it can then be disassembled and re-erected on another site on conventional foundations as a family residence.

It is anticipated that houses of this design would be jacked up well ahead of the arrival of flood waters, based on advance warnings from organisations such as the Environment Agency. Rooftop solar panels and a battery would provide the house with some continuing electricity supply when raised above the ground and the water and sewage would remain connected through flexible hoses.

However, it is not envisaged that residents would remain in occupation during floods. Instead, the householders would pack up, lock up and jack up the home before taking refuge in temporary accommodation on higher ground elsewhere.

What you can do: Search out protective solutions if you choose to live or work beside seas or rivers.

Discover Solution 131: carbon footprint calculator for builders

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Human Effort Materials Your Home

121: Edible water bubbles


About 50 billion single-use plastic water bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) are produced in the United States each year, and most are discarded. The properties that make PET useful as a packaging material (stability and durability) also make it resistant to breaking down after its useful life is over.


Edible water bubbles.

The idea of an edible biodegradable capsule for artificial edible cherries, soft sheets, and the like, called spherification, was first patented in London by Unilever engineer William Peschardt in 1942. More recently the method was introduced into modernist cooking by Spanish chef Ferran Adrià.

The most recent adaptation has been made by Pierre-Yves Paslier of Skipping Rocks Lab. Paslier started his career as a packaging engineer for L’Oréal in the daytime and hacking 3D-printers in his living room at night.

He then decided to study design at the RCA and in 2013, he co-designed one of the first consumer delta 3D-printers. Paslier left L’Oréal in 2012 to start a Masters degree in innovation, design and engineering at Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art, where he set about brainstorming non-plastic container designs.

He and classmate Rodrigo García González studied the properties of watermelons, tomatoes, coconuts and tapioca to understand how natural foods hold liquids. They finally settled on seaweed as their material of choice.

They called their edible water ball, made by dropping ice into separate solutions of calcium salt and “Notpla” a brown sodium alginate, the Ooho.

You can drink them by tearing a hole into the skin and pouring the water into your mouth, or they can be consumed whole. Containing 100 ml of liquid, the balls can be produced by a compact machine at their point of sale, eliminating the need for cups.

In 2014 Paslier and Gonzales founded Gravity Sketch, a VR 3D design platform and Skipping Rocks Lab, a sustainable packaging company, in London’s East End.

A crowd sourcing campaign as well as its accompanying YouTube went viral enabling Skipping Rocks to raise more than US$ 1 M from 1,000 investors in a mere three days. The manufacturing processes are covered under a Creative Commons license, making the recipe freely distributed and readily available for anyone to use.

In July 2018, they launched sauce sachets made from the seaweed material, which were on a six-week trial at 10 London takeaways with the delivery service Just Eat. Following the success of the trial, 10 London restaurants further trialled this product for 8 weeks, which is expected to prevent approximately 40,000 plastic sauce packets from entering homes.

Ginger and fruit juice shots were delivered to Selfridges department store, and the product was sold at UK music festivals as edible alcohol shots, including espresso martini and tequila sunrise.

In April 2019, when more than 41,000 people running in the London Marathon reached reach mile 23, thanks to Lucozade Ribena Suntory, they were handed Oohos instead of bottles. However, a video surfaced that showed streets strewn with plastic waste after the race was over.

That September, the Harrow half marathon in London replaced single use bottles and cups with Oohos. Paslier and Gonzalez are now experimenting with on green alternatives to cling film and the plastic liners used in throwaway coffee cups and ways to replace plastic toiletries bottles in hotel rooms.

What you can do: Discover Oohos or plan for the extended use of bottles and flasks.

Discover solution 122: The Climate Clock

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Human Effort Materials

120: Edible packaging


Seafaring turtles and gulls die, ensnared and poisoned in the net like plastic rings that yoke six-packs of canned beverages together.


Edible and 100% biodegradable six-pack rings.

In 2012, Chris Gove and Justin Jeffers founded of SaltWater Brewery in Delray Beach, Florida, USA with a mission to not only brew good beer, but to give back to our oceans.

As part of this initiative, in 2017, they developed six-pack rings E6PR which are 100 % biodegradable and edible, constructed of barley and wheat ribbons from the brewing process. E6PR is said to provide the strength necessary to hold cans through distribution.

The carrier is also designed to be compostable, both on land and if left in a water system where the organic materials are said not to harm wildlife upon ingestion. Packaging is done on-site with the brewery’s in-house canning line, as well as their new in-line labeler for seasonal and special releases.

It took about 18 months for the sustainable packaging to be fully adopted throughout all of SaltWater’s distribution network. The rings developed by E6PR are now used by 35 brewers across the globe, including in Africa, Europe, and Australia.

The industry has yet to settle on a single supplier or format that could fully replace plastic six-pack rings. In 2018, Corona became the first major global beer brand to pilot E6PR’s technology, they are also considering interlocking cans that can screw into each other.

Molson Coors has vowed it would aim for all its packaging to be reusable, recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable by 2025. The Coors Light and Miller Lite brewer says an increased focus on finding sustainable packaging solutions is coming from all sides: consumers, retailers, and investors. They commissioned manufacturer Footprint to make compostable, biodegradable rings for a small test run of the craft brand AC Golden in Colorado.

Carlsberg is working with German supplier NMP Systems GmbH in using glue to adhere cans in a production method that the Danish brewer says would avoid using 1,200 tons of plastic annually, or the equivalent of 60 million plastic bags, once fully adopted. Carlsberg is also tinkering with the inks on labels to improve recyclability, using recycled materials in wrapping where plastic is needed and ending coal use at nine breweries in China as it aims for zero carbon dioxide emissions. (

John Kell, “Beermakers Are Experimenting With New—and Sustainable—Six-Pack Designs,” Fortune, September 2, 2019.

What you can do: When buying cans or bottles of beverages, make sure that the packaging is biodegradable.

Discover solution 121: Edible water bubbles aka Ooho!

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