8 sustainable packaging innovations for food and beverages

Read the full story from Food Dive.

From upcycled barley straw cartons to paper soda bottles, manufacturers are testing a range of options to minimize their ecological footprints. Here are some of the most novel approaches.

The smart technology that’s enabling intelligent pollution prevention

Read the full story at Kando.

It’s taken 30 years, but US pollution prevention law is finally getting the tech support it’s always needed. As smart technology trickles into the sewers, data-driven insights are handing utilities and treatment facilities a clear view of both the challenges they face and the solutions they need. I spoke to Rick Reibstein, lecturer in Environmental Law and Policy at Boston University, and member of the board of the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable, to get to the bottom of what source detection can achieve for US pollution reduction.

Jim Beam distiller puts $1 billion behind sustainability, diversity, responsible drinking plans

Read the full story at CNBC.

Alcohol company Beam Suntory announced Wednesday a $1 billion investment in new sustainability, diversity and responsible drinking initiatives.

As part of those plans, the producer of the Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark whiskey brands, pledged to reduce by half its water usage and greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

The US electric power sector is halfway to zero carbon emissions

Wind turbines near Glenrock, Wyo. AP Photo/Matt Young

by Ryan Wiser, Bentham Paulos, Dev Millstein, and Joseph Rand (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)


Renewable energy’s rapid growth is accelerating a national shift to a carbon-free electric power system.

So far 17 states plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico have adopted laws or executive orders setting goals for reaching 100% clean electricity by 2050 or sooner. And 46 U.S. utilities have pledged to go carbon-free. Now the Biden administration and some members of Congress are proposing to decarbonize the power sector by 2035.

While this much change in 15 years seems ambitious, our new report, “Halfway to Zero,” looks back at the past 15 and finds that power sector emissions are half of what they were projected to be.

We analyzed the “business as usual” projection in the 2005 Annual Energy Outlook published by the Energy Information Administration, the U.S. government’s official agency for data collection and analysis. It projected that annual carbon dioxide emissions from the electric power sector would rise from 2,400 million to 3,000 million metric tons from 2005 to 2020.

Instead, they fell to 1,450 million metric tons – 52% below projected levels. In short, the U.S. electricity sector has managed to march halfway to zero in just 15 years.

The U.S. is using much more low-carbon and carbon-free electricity today than projected in 2005. Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, CC BY-ND

Cleaner fuels and more efficient devices

This drop happened thanks to policy, market and technology drivers.

Overall demand for electricity in 2020 was almost exactly the same as in 2005, and 24% lower than projected by federal energy forecasters. This was due partly to economic changes, such as lower economic growth from two recessions and slightly lower population growth.

The U.S. has also become more energy efficient since 2005, thanks to policies and technology improvements. Many devices that power our lives, such as LED lights, get more performance from a kilowatt-hour of electricity now than they did 15 years ago.

Wind and solar power dramatically outperformed expectations, delivering 13 times more generation in 2020 than projected. Emission-free nuclear generation largely held steady.

Finally, natural gas generation grew rapidly, driven by the shale gas revolution and low fuel prices. This pushed much of the generation of coal – the most carbon-intensive electricity source – out of the market.

These shifts have delivered many benefits. Total electric bills for consumers were 18% lower in 2020 than the Energy Information Administration had previously projected, saving households US$86 billion per year.

Reduced sulfur and nitrogen emissions, especially from less coal generation, led to a steep drop in such health impacts as respiratory disease. Premature deaths due to power-sector air pollution fell from 38,000 to 3,100 per year. And declining employment in the coal industry was more than offset by job growth in other areas, notably solar power.

The other 50%

Many assessments of energy transitions assert that it takes decades for societies to shift fully from one energy source to another. But our study shows that dramatic changes in emissions can happen much more quickly.

This doesn’t guarantee that getting to zero will be easy, though.

Wind, solar and battery technologies will be central to further decarbonization. Accelerating their deployment will require a laser focus on maintaining reliability, with new transmission lines and changes to power-system planning and operations. It will also call for careful attention to ecological impacts and heightened sensitivity to effects on workers and communities.

Fortunately, much of the generation and storage needed to hit a zero-carbon target is already in development. Developers have requested access to the transmission grid for 660 gigawatts of new wind and solar generating capacity and 200 gigawatts of storage. That represents more than half of what could be required. Not all proposed projects will be built, but the scale indicates tremendous commercial interest.

Using this much wind and solar raises the question of how to meet the last portion of demand on cloudy or windless days. Many technologies could fill this gap, such as longer-duration storage, hydrogen or synthetic fuels, fossil or biomass generation with carbon capture, advanced nuclear power, and geothermal energy. All require more research.

Our study offers two central lessons as the nation moves forward. First, policy and technology are both key to cutting emissions. Second, our ability to predict the future is limited. It will be crucial to adapt as government agencies and power companies gain policy experience, and technologies advance in unexpected ways.

Ryan Wiser, Senior Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Bentham Paulos, Affiliate, Electricity Markets & Policy Group, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Dev Millstein, Research Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Joseph Rand, Senior Scientific Engineering Associate, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Corporate funding for solar surges in Q1, but venture capital eyes are on storage, Mercom finds

Read the full story at Utility Dive.

While investors increasingly seek solar company stocks for reliable returns, energy storage is the new rising star of energy venture capital, according to Raj Prabhu, CEO of the Mercom Capital Group.

After a steady recovery in the third and fourth quarters of 2020, total corporate funding for the solar sector rose 21%, from $6.7 billion in Q4 2020 to $8.1 billion in Q1 2021, according to a recent report by MercomA second report found that venture capital investment in battery storage, smart grid and energy efficiency companies is up 410% year-over-year.

Solar, an increasingly mature industry, is now largely seen as a reliably profitable investment, attracting fewer but larger deals, Prabhu said. Storage still brings in far less investment but is drawing in venture capitalists looking for the next big energy technology.

Sysco, Cargill, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation partner for $5 million sustainable grazing initiative

Read the full story at Refrigerated & Frozen Foods.

Sysco and Cargill, two of the world’s largest food companies, announced a partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) that will help ranchers in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado tackle the impacts of climate change and improve grasslands and wildlife habitat by creating one of the largest sustainable beef cattle grazing efforts in the nation.

Hershey to construct company’s first utility-scale solar farm

Read the full story at Environment + Energy Leader.

The Hershey Company has announced two partnerships to develop solar projects in the US. For the first project, located in Camden, North Carolina, Hershey has made a 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA) that will enable the financing and construction of the company’s first utility-scale solar farm. This solar project will be a 20 megawatt (MW-AC) facility on 218 acres of land. Once completed, the North Carolina project will reduce CO2 emission by 32,025 metric tons per year. Construction of the new solar farm is expected to be completed in late July.

Anheuser-Busch to partner with Post to develop sustainable food

Read the full story at Food Dive.

EverGrain, a sustainable ingredients company backed by Anheuser-Busch, and Bright Future Foods, a subsidiary of Post Holdings, are collaborating to create sustainable and “climate-positive” foods — meaning they have a negative carbon footprint, the companies said in a joint statement.  

Anheuser-Busch and Post said the products will be formulated using EverGrain’s repurposed barley protein and fiber and Bright Future Foods’ “climate-positive” oats. 

The announcement comes just a few weeks after AB InBev’s Anheuser-Busch operation announced it was investing $100 million and creating 50 jobs in St. Louis to expand the production capacity of EverGrain to a commercial scale.

Now you can wash your clothes with recycled carbon emissions

Read the full story in Fast Company.

You might not know it, but you’re likely washing your clothes with ingredients made from fossil fuels But soon, you’ll be able to stop and do your laundry with a detergent made from recycled carbon emissions instead. While many surfactants—a key ingredient in detergents, which creates foam and allows dirt to be washed away—are derived from petroleum, a new laundry capsule from Unilever, which initially will be available in stores in China, uses surfactants made from captured industrial emissions.

The laundry capsules, available through the brand Omo and launching in China April 22, result from a partnership between Unilever, biotech company LanzaTech, and green chemical company India Glycols. LanzaTech, which has a commercial plant running in China that turns carbon emissions from a steel mill into ethanol, has already used its carbon recycling process to turn those emissions into jet fuel and alcohol for fragrances.

Mind the gap: Towards a systematic circular economy encouragement of small and medium-sized companies

Daniel Holzer, Romana Rauter, Eva Fleiß, Tobias Stern (2021). “Mind the gap: Towards a systematic circular economy encouragement of small and medium-sized companies.” Journal of Cleaner Production 298, 126696. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2021.126696

Abstract: Despite a growing number of circular economy (CE) strategies, reports, methods and tools, researchers have provided little empirical evidence on the corporate practices in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are crucial to affect the transition towards a CE. Although there is an increase of studies on barriers for and driver to CE, there is little knowledge about what represents CE for SMEs and which topical areas are of central interest especially for SMEs. Based on CE related literature, we identified sustainability, resource efficiency, differentiation, cooperation with stakeholders, independence from resource supply and life cycle knowledge as such topical areas. Drawing on empirical survey data gathered from a cross-sectional sample of N = 183 SMEs in Austria, we first applied an Importance-Performance Analysis (IPA) to identify gaps between the perceived performance and importance ratings, reported by SME representatives, in those topical areas. The identified gaps give a direction which topical areas offer opportunities for further improving a company’s performance. The findings reveal that the efficient use of resources as well as the procurement of resources plays a major role for Austrian SMEs. Cooperation with stakeholders, however, seems to be an underestimated topical area in the present sample. Based on the results of this IPA, we carried out a cluster analysis to identify groups of SMEs that vary according their overall perceived performance in and importance of the topical areas of CE. The result reveals four strategic groups of SMEs, namely CE frontrunners, fast followers, a late majority and laggards, which provide a basis for policy makers, intermediaries or cluster representatives to effectively address diverse SMEs as specific target groups by addressing topical areas of CE in order to facilitate a shift towards CE.