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Sustainability - conservation

Airbnb and SolarCity provide incentives for hosts to install solar systems

Airbnb partnered with SolarCity to offer financial incentives for hosts that install a solar system in their properties being rented. Hosts that install a solar energy system from SolarCity will receive a $1,000 cash back from the company. The offer is valid until the end of March next year, after which the incentive will drop to $750 for the rest of 2017. Homeowners with solar panels already installed and want to join Airbnb can also receive a $100 gift card from the company. The decision may appeal to travelers, particularly Millennials, interested in staying at an environment-friendly home. It could also help Airbnb establish itself as an environment-friendly company. The company published a study that says home sharing saves the environment billions of liters of water, tons of waste and large amounts of energy.

Key Takeaway: 

Airbnb and SolarCity have partnered together to offer incentives for hosts to purchase a solar system from SolarCity, which can help to position Airbnb as a sustainable company as well as attract Milennial renters that are interested in environment-friendly homes.

Publication: 
Publication Date: 
October 24, 2016

Agri Drone prevents wide spraying of pesticides on crops

Saga University researchers in Japan have developed a drone specifically for more precise spraying of pesticide over crops. The drone built in with infra-red and thermal cameras scans the field for clusters of bugs and then flies to it at low altitudes before spraying the pesticide. The technology can prevent widespread spraying on crops and could save farmers on costs, not to mention the health benefits of growing crops with as less chemicals as possible. At night, the drone carries a bug zapper which can lure the bugs and control their propagation. The researchers have already tested the technology over soy and sweet potato fields, eliminating a number of pests including moths and planthoppers.

Key Takeaway: 

Saga University researchers built a drone that uses infra-red and thermal cameras to detect insects and target sprays on infected areas, saving on costs while being more effective at eliminating pests.

Publication: 
Publication Date: 
June 23, 2016

Researchers develop environment-friendly solar cell

The Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) has developed semi-transparent solar cells that does not require toxic materials and costly equipment typically seen in the manufacture of silicon solar cells and their alternatives. The cells are made from non-toxic AgBiS2 nanocrystals using a low temperature hot-injection synthetic procedure. The nanocrystals are first turned into solvents and deposited onto a thin film of zinc oxide and indium tin oxide. The result is a solar cell that is 35 nanometers thick with an efficiency of 6.3%. The team is working on increasing the efficiency of the cell to higher than 12%.

Key Takeaway: 

Researchers at the Institute of Photonic Sciences made a thin film solar cell that is greener and cheaper to make than silicon photovoltaic cells and existing alternatives.

Publication: 
Publication Date: 
June 21, 2016

Recycled yarn from plastic bottles used by clothing brands and schools

A company called Unifi has turned billions of plastic bottles into recycled yarn used in T-shirts, graduation gowns, jackets, pants and car upholstery. Its customers include high profile brands like Levi's, Adidas, Nike and Ford. Unifi has also partnered with Oak Hall Cap & Gown, maker of graduation gowns, to produce gowns made of 100% recycled plastic bottles, which are used by graduates from schools like Brown University, Michigan State and Yale. Unifi collects plastic bottles, fiber waste and fabric scraps at its recycling center in North Carolina. The bottles are shredded into plastic flakes, which are then turned into little pellets that are then melted and spun into yarn. The company produces three types of yarns - one that is 100% sourced from plastic bottles, another from a mixture of plastic bottles and fiber waste, and lastly a hybrid of plastic bottles and recycled fabric. Unifi's factory can make 72 million pounds of recycled fiber a year and plans to up their production to 100 million pounds in 2017.

Key Takeaway: 

Unifi manufactures yarns made from recycled plastic bottles, fiber waste and used fabric which are being supplied to brands like Adidas and Nike as well as turned into graduation gowns, saving billions of plastic bottles from ending up in landfills.

Publication: 
Publication Date: 
May 16, 2016

GPS trackers reveal how much and where e-waste is exported

Despite government claims that the export of e-waste has been reduced, an investigation by non-profit Basel Action Network (BAN) discovered that a substantial amount of recycled electronics are still in fact being exported. BAN installed 200 GPS tracking devices in electronic waste that they left in recycling drop-off sites across the country. Thirty three percent of the devices they tracked were exported and 31% were likely shipped overseas illegally. The destinations of the exported e-waste went to 10 countries, that includes China, Taiwan, Pakistan, Mexico, Thailand, Cambodia and Kenya, with most of it dropped to Hong Kong. The improper disposal of e-waste can release a number of toxic materials and chemicals to the environment. Regulation in the US bans the export of only one type of e-waste, the hazardous cathode ray tubes. While several states prohibit the dumping of e-waste, no federal law exists that oversees e-waste recycling, reports The Intercept. Low commodity prices has made it difficult for recycling centers to profit from e-waste, which they can sell for much larger abroad. BAN estimates that the US exports between 314,000 to 376,800 tons of e-waste a year, equivalent to 43-52 container loads a day.

Key Takeaway: 

According to non-profit Basel Action Network (BAN) which tracked 200 e-waste with GPS locators over a two year period, 31% of the e-waste were shipped to developing countries illegally, posing environmental and regulatory issues even as more devices are expected to be bought in the Internet of Things.

Market Disruptions: 
Publication: 
Publication Date: 
May 13, 2016

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