Tapping into Nature: Using bioinspiration to sink carbon

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

This is an excerpt from the Tapping into Nature report by Terrapin Bright Green.

Carbon is an integral part of life’s “economy.” Unlike the anthropogenic buildup of carbon in the atmosphere and ocean, carbon is used by organisms to accomplish functions, and it is exchanged in cyclic flows between organisms and regional ecosystems. The abundance of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) should be viewed as a ubiquitous resource and business opportunity.

Achieving goals such as New York’s 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050, relative to 2010 levels, will require not only easily achievable measures, such as retrofitting existing buildings to reduce energy use-related emissions, but also new strategies such as reusing carbon to ensure a prosperous low-carbon economy. If properly funded, these additional reduction measures will come from bioinspired technology.

Move Over, Yellow 6. More Natural Colors From Plants Are Coming

Read the full story from NPR.

Not long ago, I tried a new kind of Doritos tinted a shade of orange that I’ll wager does not exist in the vegetable world. These JACKED Ranch Dipped Hot Wings Flavored chips were so intensely tinted that after four chips, I had to stop eating them. My mind simply wouldn’t accept them as food.

What was behind that exceedingly bold hue of orange? Red 40, Blue 1, Yellow 6, Red 40 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake and Yellow 5 Lake, according to the label.

Artificial colors like these are widely used in packaged food and considered safe by the Food and Drug Administration.

Yet an increasing number of food companies are moving away from synthetic colorings and toward plant-based ones, according to Carol Culhane, president of International Food Focus Limited, a Toronto-based firm that helps American and Canadian food manufacturers comply with food regulations.

Dell cuts e-waste with recycled carbon fiber

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

The overall electronics industry has been slow to address the dual threat and opportunity that e-waste presents, but tech giant Dell is making some of the first inroads to a more “circular” supply chain. The company recently announced progress against its circular economy initiatives, including the expansion of its closed-loop recycled plastic supply chain and the introduction of reclaimed carbon fiber source materials into some of its products.

Ford Looks to Lizards to Increase Recyclability, Improve Adhesives

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

Ford is looking to create adhesives inspired by the gecko.

The automaker will also work with Procter & Gamble, sharing research findings as both companies look to biomimicry for a host of business solutions.

Making the Business Case for a Circular Economy

Read the full post in Environmental Leader.

The financial opportunities and environmental benefits of a circular economy in the electronics sector – where waste becomes a resource for new products – was the focus of the recent Emerging Green conference held by the Green Electronics Council in Portland, Oregon.

Representatives from the public, private and non-profit sectors convened to discuss profit-driven approaches to sustainability in the electronics sector, and how to develop collaborative strategies to achieve success. Trucost presented original research on natural capital dependencies in the electronics industry in partnership with the Green Electronics Council.

Biomimicry Global Design Challenge announces first round winners

A design created to help farmers keep nutrients in the soil won first prize in the first food system-focused Biomimicry Global Design Challenge. This innovation, created by a team of students from the University of Oregon, was based in part on the earthworm’s digestive system and decreases the amount of fertilizer needed while improving soil health over time.

The Biomimicry Institutes Biomimicry Global Design Challenge, sponsored by the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, asks participants to tackle any aspect of the food system that could be improved by looking to nature for design guidance. In the first year of this Challenge, the focus is on key food and agriculture issues like waste, packaging, agricultural pest management, food distribution, energy use, and other solutions. Winners were announced at an awards ceremony held October 4, 2015 at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, TX.

Second prize in the open challenge (open to both students and professionals) was awarded to a team from Thailand who developed a bio-inspired chamber for capturing edible insects. A team from Chile won third prize for their innovation that protects growing seedlings in degraded soils and paves the way for new plant species to grow.

In the open challenge, eight finalists teams were invited to travel to Austin, TX, to present their ideas at SXSW Eco, pitch their innovation to a panel of judges, and participate in an awards event. The judges, including biomimicry pioneer Janine Benyus, chose three teams to receive initial cash prizes.

In the student-only competition, three additional teams were awarded cash prizes. First prize in the student competition went to WindChill, a team from the University of Calgary in Canada. Polli Snak, a team from the University of California, Long Beach, captured second prize, and CLEAR System, from Wageningen University in the Netherlands won third prize.

“I am incredibly proud of these finalist teams, and I congratulate the winners of this design phase,” said Ray C. Anderson Foundation Executive Director John Lanier. “They have brought much more than just biomimetic thinking to the table; it is their passion and enthusiasm that stands out. I am anxious and excited to see the next steps these teams will take.”

In the open challenge, these cash prizes are just the first step. All eight finalist teams have been invited to prototype their solutions in an accelerator program that will award $100,000 to the top contender in an effort to increase speed to market for biomimetic solutions to global problems. A full list of the finalists’ submissions can be found here. To watch the finalists’ pitch videos, click here.

“We are thrilled to be supporting these eight teams from around the world as they continue to develop and prototype their concepts,” said Megan Schuknecht, director of design challenges at the Biomimicry Institute. “Over the next year, we will be providing them with access to business training, resources and mentors, with the ultimate goal of helping to bring these biomimetic innovations to market.”

A new round of the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge opens today, which is another opportunity for teams to join and compete for the $100,000 “Ray of Hope” Prize. Individuals and teams can learn more about the first-round finalists and register for the next round at challenge.biomimicry.org.

The Ray C. Anderson Foundation has pledged $1.5 million over four years to support the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge, a multi-year effort to crowdsource, support, and seed promising innovations inspired by nature. Each year beginning in 2016, the Institute and Foundation together will award the $100,000 “Ray of Hope” Prize to the most viable prototype that embodies the radical sustainability principles of biomimicry. The first two years are focused on food systems, while subsequent years will change to other sustainability issues.

Interface Founder Ray Anderson, who funded the Foundation upon his passing in 2011, was famously inspired by radical new approaches to centuries old design and manufacturing techniques, and sought them out when rethinking his $1 billion, global carpet tile company’s products and processes.

13th Annual P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet

Solicitation Opening Date: October 06, 2015
Solicitation Closing Date: December 08, 2015, 11:59:59 pm Eastern Time

Read the full RFA at http://www2.epa.gov/research-grants/13th-annual-p3-awards-national-student-design-competition-sustainability-focusing

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announces the posting of the Request for Applications, P3-People, Prosperity and the Planet Award Program, with the goal to research, develop and design solutions to real world challenges involving the overall sustainability of human society. This college student design competition highlights the use of scientific principles in creating innovative projects focused on sustainability. The P3 Award program was developed to foster progress toward the three pillars of sustainability by achieving the mutual goals of improved quality of life, economic prosperity and protection of the planet – people, prosperity, and the planet. The EPA offers the P3 competition in order to respond to the technical needs of the world while moving towards the goal of sustainability.

This year’s P3 RFA includes the following research topics:

  • Energy;
  • Water;
  • Built Environment; and
  • Materials and Chemicals.

Supporting the development of sustainable methods is in line with the Sustainable and Healthy Communities (SHC) Research Program. EPA’s SHC Research Program provides useful science and tools for decision makers at all levels to help communities advance sustainability as well as achieve regulatory compliance. SHC is collaborating with partners to conduct research that will result in science-based knowledge to guide decisions that will better sustain a healthy society and environment in America’s communities. The research is intended for decision-makers at the federal, regional, state and community levels.