As the world builds back from the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, green technologies are taking centre stage in more initiatives than ever. These are alternatives to traditional technologies that are planet-friendly, efficient, and easy to implement.
No wonder their adoption rates are high. Things are dire on the climate front, but they can still be bettered, and many companies, governments and non-profit organisations have taken it upon themselves to find ways to do so.
Adding to that thought, here are eight green technologies that are set to take off in a big way in 2022. Have a look:
1. Self-fertilising crops
The World Economic Forum (WEF) and Scientific American class self-fertilising crops as one of the world’s top ten emerging technologies. At present, almost 120 million tonnes worth of nitrogen is used as fertiliser every year, accounting for 1-2% of global carbon dioxide emissions.
However, plants like beans and soy from the legume family can create their own nitrogen — and scientists are trying to activate the same responses in other crops like cereals.
2. Low-carbon shipping
Transport has traditionally been a heavy contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, with only 2% or less of road transport fleets producing zero emissions.
However, growing consciousness and bulk transport routes have led to a variety of innovations in rail and sea transport, such as a passenger train free of carbon dioxide emissions, and the use of alternative shipping fuels like carbon-free green ammonia.
3. Ecosystem regeneration and biodiversity gain
Ecosystem regeneration calls for us to actively contribute to the natural environment and safeguard biodiversity while finding sustainable ways to feed ourselves. Countries and companies are thus developing new ways to rejuvenate natural ecosystems.
For instance, in some warm climates, areas affected by forest fires invest in tall structures that can gradually disseminate new seeds and soil nutrients to replenish patches of land after a fire. The UK has been engaging in activities such as hardwood tree planting, peatland restoration and replanting kelp and seagrasses.
Other initiatives include Leicester which has recently set up ‘Bee Bus Stops’ — plant-covered roofs on bus stops to attract bees and other pollinators — as part of a programme to give all 479 bus shelters in the city an eco-friendly upgrade.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or IPCC data indicates that land use accounts for about 23% of greenhouse gas emissions, with agriculture being responsible for most of this. Green agritech, perhaps naturally, is getting a spotlight moment as a consequence.
For instance, an urban farming company in Germany recently introduced a high-capacity indoor vertical farming system. This uses no chemical pesticides, reduces transport needs by 90% and cuts water usage by 95%, with overall annual water savings of about 10 million litres compared with traditional soil-based agricultural methods.
And this is just one in a plethora of innovations, from solar-powered robots that can tend to fields to blockchain-based audit systems for full transparency along the supply chain.
5. Ethical consumption with digital technologies
New studies show that over half of shoppers are keen on living in a more environmentally conscious way, and companies are doing their bit to help them move beyond fast fashion to eco-friendly choices.
For instance, a tool named Zei in France allows companies to measure their environmental impact with the help of a score across various parameters while including details of sustainable service providers such as waste recycling and green electricity supply.
It also provides customers with eco-friendly alternatives for food, clothing, transport, housing and lifestyle products. In addition, the online marketplace Startup Hive sells only products with minimal environmental impact and eco-friendly packaging. It provides customers with a complete report on the positive effects of each product at checkout time.
6. Ocean sustainability
With oceans covering 70% of the earth’s surface, one cannot really develop a ‘green’ economy without focusing on the ‘blue’ economy. The ocean, in fact, absorbs about a quarter of global carbon dioxide emissions.
That means saving the ocean is paramount to minimising climate change. Seaweed, for instance, is excellent at sequestering carbon and is ideal for food and energy production too.
While traditional harvesting methods have not been able to unlock the full potential of seaweed, a new ‘sea combine’ technique developed in India could change that.
The UK is also investing in the use of mussels to filter microplastics out of waterways — a single square metre of mussels, in fact, can clean up about 150,000 litres of water per day.
7. City sustainability
With over 70% of the world’s population set to be living in urban areas by 2050, it is essential to focus on eco-friendly city infrastructure and several companies and futuristic thinkers are doing so. In Germany, for instance, there is a solar-powered bike path of which a single kilometre can generate sufficient electricity for about 750 homes.
There is also a Germany-USA partnership in the works that will test the use of magnetisable concrete to build roads that can charge vehicles as they move.
With electric cars now all the rage for their environment-friendliness and aesthetics, this is a significant step forward that is much more economical than installing miles of copper lines under roads.
8. Decarbonisation of food systems
What we eat has a significant impact on agriculture and the ecosystem, and many companies are investing in sustainable food options that are tasty and good for the environment.
Plant-based meats continue to skyrocket as more and more people go vegan, while companies like Microgreens in Romania are investing in cultivating leafy vegetables and microgreens through hydroponics.
There are apps such as Too Good To Go and Olio that connect restaurant and hospitality businesses to individuals and organisations that want surplus food. Companies convert waste into valuable raw materials or finished goods for sale.
Over to you
Sustainability needs to be the dominant way of life if we are to preserve a healthy world for future generations, and green technology plays a significant role there. In the future, we can expect many more innovations to be developed and tested as more and more people choose to make positive changes for society and the planet.
We at Waste2ES understand that the pressure on businesses across sectors to reduce carbon emissions, comply with zero waste to landfill regulations, and deploy proper sustainable solutions for wastewater and soil treatment is at a peak.
Waste2ES simplifies how you care for the environment and your workforce and helps you achieve Net Zero with versatile systems and solutions. Find out more.