Vertical greenhouses, designer tables made of solar modules and black soldier flies as a source of protein – these and other ideas are among the finalists for the 2015 Green Alley Awards, Europe’s first start-up prize for the circular economy.
Out of 100 applicants, six start-ups with roots in the UK, Ireland, Israel and Germany qualified for the finals, which will be held on 4th November 2015 in Berlin. The start-up competition was launched in 2014 by Green Alley Investment GmbH and the German crowdfunding platform Seedmatch and emphasizes on the challenges posed by throw-away societies, resource scarcity and the recovery of raw materials. This year, the European Recycling Platform (ERP) UK and the London accelerator Bethnal Green Ventures have also joined as partners.
“The development of new approaches to and solutions for the handling of resources and waste is a task that doesn’t stop at national borders,” says Jan Patrick Schulz, Managing Director of Green Alley Investment GmbH. “That’s why we expanded the competition across Europe this year. With the Green Alley Award, we have created an incentive for young entrepreneurs to turn their attention towards the enormous potential of waste as a resource and to develop business models for a sustainable circular economy. For us, the fact that 100 start-ups from 17 countries took up this challenge is a positive signal and evidence of the innovative thinking that Europe urgently needs.”
Jens-Uwe Sauer, CEO of Seedmatch says: “The number and quality of the applications demonstrates the potential in sustainable business models. We’re delighted that across Europe, start-ups want to develop ecological innovations and introduce them on the market, thereby generating fresh impulses economically and socially. In the end, some really exciting trends emerged. We’re thus eager to meet the founder teams at the finals in November and hear their live pitches.”
Of 100 start-ups from 17 countries around the world, six qualified for the finals in Berlin. The business models of the Green Alley Award finalists show just how multifaceted the issue of waste is and how diversely it can be approached:
Adaptavate: They may be invisible, but they’re behind almost all our walls and ceilings: plasterboards. More than 500,000 tons accumulate as waste every year – as either superfluous cuttings when new buildings are erected or scrap when old ones are demolished. This waste must be disposed of separately from other building materials because it emits toxins like sulfate. The British start-up Adaptavate offers an eco-friendly, even breathable alternative. Its product, Breathaboard, is made up to 75 percent from agricultural waste and is fully compostable. http://www.adaptavate.com/
Binee: To optimize the collection and recycling of electronic waste, consumers in Germany can now return their used electrical and electronic devices directly at major retailers. Once a huge logistical challenge for both parties, this process has become a convenient and playful service thanks to the smart trash bin developed by German start-up Binee. A camera installed in the bin automatically recognizes the deposited device, while a paired app provides the user with important information about his or her electric waste – and, naturally, rewards bonus points for deposits. www.binee.com
Entocycle: To satisfy the human hunger for fish and meat, 70 percent of agricultural land is used for growing feed – at significant cost to the climate and environment. The solution? Hermetia illucens, the black soldier fly that British start-up Entocycle wants to breed systematically. Though not so appetizing for humans, the protein suppliers are a hot topic in agriculture; as deployed by Entocycle, they have the ability to solve two problems at the same time. When the larvae feed on organic waste, they significantly reduce the volume of that waste and at the same time become an animal feed rich in protein and nutrients. http://www.entocycle.com/
InFarm: Foodstuffs don’t just spoil in our refrigerators; transport and bad storage can lead to waste before fruit and vegetables even land on our plates. Fresh, locally produced fruits and veggies can not only curb food waste, but help avoid the polluting effects of transport over thousands of kilometers. That’s why Infarm, a Berlin start-up with Israeli roots, wants to bring the cultivation of fruits and vegetables back to where people actually live: these days, in cities. Its vertical greenhouses can be used in supermarkets, restaurants and office buildings. http://infarm.de
Solstrøm Furniture: The solar industry is growing, and with it, a new recycling challenge; photovoltaic systems have a lifespan of around 20 years, after which they must be replaced. Europe will thus soon be facing the first wave of PV disposal. But thanks to German start-up Solstrøm, the lifespan of some PV modules can now be extended. Through upcycling, the modules become chic designer office tables with a little something extra: they can supply laptops and mobile phones directly with solar power.
Votechnik: Almost everyone has an LCD television at home. But who’s ever considered what happens to that television when it dies? The device contains toxic substances like mercury and liquid crystals, which must be specially disposed of, making recycling difficult. But the Irish start-up Votechnik has now developed a patented solution for safely removing the toxic elements in an automated process, thereby considerably facilitating the work of electronic waste recyclers. www.votechnik.com
The stage is set for 4th November. In live pitches, these six finalists will have three minutes each to convince an international jury of experts from the start-up and recycling industries of their ideas, then stand up to questions about their business models. The winner of the Green Alley Award will receive a package of cash and non-cash benefits valued at up to 20,000 euros as well as a chance at financing through investment or crowdfunding.
About the Green Alley Award
The Green Alley Award is awarded annually to entrepreneurs and start-ups from the circular economy. The organiser of the Green Alley Award is an alliance of partners from the international green economy and the European start-up scene. The award started in 2014 from a collaboration between green economy investor Green Alley and Germany’s leading crowdfunding platform Seedmatch. This year Green Alley and Seedmatch have expanded their search for green ideas across Europe and specifically to London and Berlin, the leading global start-up capitals. In UK two new partners have joined the award organisers: Bethnal Green Ventures, the London based accelerator programme for people who want to change the world using technology, as well as the European Recycling Platform (ERP) UK, a recycling service for electronic waste and batteries. Under the motto “connecting green ideas from Berlin to London” Green Alley, Seedmatch, ERP UK and Bethnal Green Ventures are searching for innovative products, services or technologies that recycle waste, conserve resources and raise awareness of the issue of recycling.
How to be More eco-Responsible in 2018
Nowadays, more and more people are talking about being more eco-responsible. There is a constant growth of information regarding the importance of being aware of ecological issues and the methods of using eco-friendly necessities on daily basis.
Have you been considering becoming more eco-responsible after the New Year? If so, here are some useful tips that could help you make the difference in the following year:
1. Energy – produce it, save it
If you’re building a house or planning to expand your living space, think before deciding on the final square footage. Maybe you don’t really need that much space. Unnecessary square footage will force you to spend more building materials, but it will also result in having to use extra heating, air-conditioning, and electricity in it.
It’s even better if you seek professional help to reduce energy consumption. An energy audit can provide you some great piece of advice on how to save on your energy bills.
While buying appliances such as a refrigerator or a dishwasher, make sure they have “Energy Star” label on, as it means they are energy-efficient.
Regarding the production of energy, you can power your home with renewable energy. The most common way is to install rooftop solar panels. They can be used for producing electricity, as well as heat for the house. If powering the whole home is a big step for you, try with solar oven then – they trap the sunlight in order to heat food! Solar air conditioning is another interesting thing to try out – instead of providing you with heat, it cools your house!
2. Don’t be just another tourist
Think about the environment, as well your own enjoyment – try not to travel too far, as most forms of transport contribute to the climate change. Choose the most environmentally friendly means of transport that you can, as well as environmentally friendly accommodation. If you can go to a destination that is being recommended as an eco-travel destination – even better! Interesting countries such as Zambia, Vietnam or Nicaragua are among these destinations that are famous for its sustainability efforts.
3. Let your beauty be also eco-friendly
We all want to look beautiful. Unfortunately, sometimes (or very often) it comes with a price. Cruelty-free cosmetics are making its way on the world market but be careful with the labels – just because it says a product hasn’t been tested on animals, it doesn’t mean that some of the product’s ingredients haven’t been tested on some poor animal.
To be sure which companies definitely stay away from the cruel testing on animals, check PETA Bunny list of cosmetic companies just to make sure which ones are truly and completely cruelty-free.
It’s also important if a brand uses toxic ingredients. Brands such as Tata Harper Skincare or Dr Bronner’s use only organic ingredients and biodegradable packaging, as well as being cruelty-free. Of course, this list is longer, so you’ll have to do some online research.
4. Know thy recycling
People often make mistakes while wanting to do something good for the environment. For example, plastic grocery bags, take-out containers, paper coffee cups and shredded paper cannot be recycled in your curb for many reasons, so don’t throw them into recycling bins. The same applies to pizza boxes, household glass, ceramics, and pottery – whether they are contaminated by grease or difficult to recycle, they just can’t go through the usual recycling process.
People usually forget to do is to rinse plastic and metal containers – they always have some residue, so be thorough. Also, bottle caps are allowed, too, so don’t separate them from the bottles. However, yard waste isn’t recyclable, so any yard waste or junk you are unsure of – just contact rubbish removal services instead of piling it up in public containers or in your own yard.
5. Fashion can be both eco-friendly and cool
Believe it or not, there are actually places where you can buy clothes that are eco-friendly, sustainable, as well as ethical. And they look cool, too! Companies like Everlane are very transparent about where their clothes are manufactured and how the price is set. PACT is another great company that uses non-GMO, organic cotton and non-toxic dyes for their clothing, while simultaneously using renewable energy factories. Soko is a company that uses natural and recycled materials in making their clothes and jewelry.
All in all
The truth is – being eco-responsible can be done in many ways. There are tons of small things we could change when it comes to our habits that would make a positive influence on the environment. The point is to start doing research on things that can be done by every person and it can start with the only thing that person has the control of – their own household.
Top 5 Changes You can Make in Your Life to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
In a world, where war rages and global warming threatens our very existence, the inhabitants of earth need to be extra vigilant in their efforts to go green. This includes reducing your carbon footprint on the earth and leading a more sustainable life.
Many homeowners feel perplexed by all of the options available to reduce their carbon footprint. They may even feel (falsely) that making their household more green will fail to make that much of a difference in the fight to save our planet.
Even a single home going green has a massive impact on the environment. We can win this battle on home at a time. If you’re interested in accepting the challenge of making your household a green home, read on below for a few of the top changes you can make in your life to reduce your carbon footprint. We all stand to benefit from making the earth safer for future generations – and your wallet won’t complain when you start to see the savings in annual energy costs.
Switch From Dirty Energy to Clean Solar
The ION Solar reviews tell it all–solar is the best way to go. Whether your goal is to slash your energy bills, or to reduce your carbon footprint, the sun is a fantastic source of renewable energy.
It’s important to get past the hype from solar installers. Instead, listen to the plethora of impartial customer reviews that mention everything from a $20 energy bill, to the incredible feeling of knowing that you are doing your part by going green and minimizing harmful emissions in to our atmosphere.
The average investment is $15,000 to $30,000 for installation and purchase of solar panels. Optional battery power packs can help provide consistent power during both night and day. And many government agencies provide federal, state or local grants to help offset upfront investments in clean energy.
Depending on which installed you choose, your household may qualify for low-interest or zero interest loans to cover the up-front cost of your installation. And the loan payments are usually less than your current monthly power bill.
It really is a win-win, as home buyers are looking for homes that feature this technology – meaning solar power installation improves the resale value of your property.
And there are a number of additional home modifications that can help improve the energy efficiency of your home. A programmable thermostat can better manage energy consumption from home cooling and heating systems while you’re away from home. And weather stripping your doors can help keep cool air in during the summer, and warm air in during the winter.
Of course, energy conservation starts at home. And this includes setting a powerful example for your kids. Teach your children how to close windows, strategically keep doors open or closed based on airflow, and encourage them to leave the thermostat alone – opting for adding or removing layers of clothing instead.
Unplug Appliances and Shut Off Electronics
Unplugging your appliances when they aren’t in use, such as the toaster and the coffee maker, has more of an impact than you might think. Set your TVs and stereos on sleep timers, instead of letting them run around the clock. The cumulative impact of wasteful electronic device usage is horrible for our environment – putting unnecessary strain on our electrical grid.
One of the simplest and easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint is by recycling. You are already throwing this stuff away anyway, right? It doesn’t take much more effort to just put recyclables in a separate container to be recycled, now does it?
Oh, and did I mention that you can earn money for recycling? Yes! Many cities and towns have recycling centers that will purchase your clean plastic and glass bottles for reuse.
Minimize Your Water Usage
Water is one of the easiest things to forget about when it comes to reducing your carbon footprint. Preserve water by turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth. Shorten your shower by a few minutes and turn down the heat on that water heater. You’ll be surprised at how much lower your water bill and your energy bill will be.
Saving money and reducing your carbon footprint? What isn’t to love?
These are just a few of the top ways that you can reduce your carbon footprint and start living a greener lifestyle. And we aren’t factoring in all of the advantages that we’ll reap from public investments in a smarter energy grid.
From decreasing your water usage, to switching to solar for your home’s energy needs, you will feel good at the end of the day knowing you are doing your part to save the future of this planet for generations to come!
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