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  • A bioplastic solution to food waste


    Students and alumni of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) have designed and produced a biodegradable plastic packaging that alerts consumers that food has gone bad and should not be eaten.

    mThe product, called Plasticor, changes color if it is no longer fit for consumption. Developed by students about a year ago in the Xerém campus labs, the bioplastic may offer a sustainable option for avoiding food waste.

    Every year, some 30% (or 1.3 billion tons) of all food produced ends up being thrown away, according to the United Nations. Packaging that changes color as an indication of the quality of the packaged content could present a way of better managing food consumption; consumers would know which foods are closer to the expiration date and should therefore be eaten soon, while based on the color, they would also immediately see whther food past their expiry dat may nonetheless still be consumed safely.

    “The environmental impact is also reduced since the use of plastic materials has been abundant in the food industry in the last decades. Our packaging is ecofriendly because it doesn’t use chemical additives and doesn’t take years to degrade”, explains João Vítor Balbino, a biophysics student and one of the seven members of the startup. While conventional plastics can take up to five centuries to degrade, students estimate that Plasticor degrades in six months.

    The team is multidisciplinary and involves undergraduate students from Biotechnology, Nanotechnology, Biophysics and Marketing courses, a doctoral student of Polymer Science and Technology, and a designer, all from UFRJ. The project is funded by its own creators, who are seeking possible investors. Those interested in helping can participate in the collective financing created by the team, contributing with any amount above R$ 10.

    To participate, go to

  • Mission possible: but no time to waste


    New report by the Energy Transitions Commission shows that reaching net-zero carbon emissions from heavy industry and heavy-duty transport can be done through ambitious policy, accelerated innovation, and investment, with minimal cost to the global economy.

    aReaching net-zero carbon emissions from heavy industry and heavy-duty transport sectors is technically and financially possible by 2060 and earlier in developed economies and could cost less than 0.5% of global GDP, according to the report published today by the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC). The report Mission Possible: Reaching net-zero carbon emissions from harder-to-abate sectors by mid-century outlines the possible routes to fully decarbonize cement, steel, plastics, trucking, shipping and aviation – which together represent 30% of energy emissions today and could increase to 60% by mid-century as other sectors lower their emissions.
    The “Mission Possible” report was developed with contributions from over 200 industry experts over a 6-month consultation process. Its findings show that full decarbonization is technically feasible with technologies that already exist, although several still need to reach commercial readiness. The total cost to the global economy would be less than 0.5% of GDP by mid-century, and could be reduced even further by improving energy efficiency, by making better use of carbon-intensive materials (through greater materials efficiency and recycling) and by limiting demand growth for carbon-intensive transport (through greater logistics efficiency and modal shift).
    The report also shows that this would have only a minor impact on the cost of end consumer products. For example:
    • Green steel use would add approximately $180 on the price of a car.
    • Green shipping would add less than 1% to the price of an imported pair of jeans.
    • Low-carbon plastics would add $1 cent on the price of a bottle of soda.
    In heavy-duty transport, electric trucks and buses (either battery or hydrogen fuel cells) are likely to mbecome cost-competitive by 2030, while, in shipping and aviation, liquid fuels are likely to remain the preferred option for long distances but can be made zero carbon by using bio or synthetic fuels. Improved energy efficiency, greater logistics efficiency and some level of modal shift for both freight and passenger transport could reduce the size of the transition challenge.
    In industry, more efficient use of materials and greatly increased recycling and reuse within a more circular economy could reduce primary production and emissions by as much as 40% globally – and more in developed economies – with the greatest opportunities in plastics and metals. Reaching full decarbonization will require a portfolio of decarbonization technologies, and the optimal route to net-zero carbon will vary across location depending on local resources.
    Across all sectors of the economy:
    • Direct and indirect electrification (through hydrogen) will likely play a significant role in most sectors of industry and transport, leading to a sharp increase in power demand – growing 4-6 times from today’s 20,000 TWh to reach around 100,000 TWh by mid-century).
    • Hydrogen use will almost certainly increase dramatically (7-11 times by mid-century), with two routes to zero-carbon hydrogen; electrolysis, which will likely dominate in the long term, and steam methane reforming plus carbon capture and storage.
    • Bioenergy and bio-feedstock will be required in several sectors, but will need to be tightly regulated to avoid adverse environmental impact (such as deforestation), and its use should be focused on priority sectors where alternatives are least available or more costly, such as aviation and plastics feedstocks.
    • Carbon capture (combined with use or storage) will likely be required to capture process emissions from cement and may also be the most cost-competitive decarbonization option for other sectors in several geographies. However, it does not need to play a major role in power generation, with the storage needs required could be less than many scenarios suggest. Tight regulation of storage is essential to ensure safety and permanence.
    The “Mission Possible” report concluded that the most challenging sectors to decarbonize are plastics, due to end-of-life emissions, cement, due to process emissions, and shipping because of the high cost of decarbonization and the fragmented structure of the industry.
    The report aims to be a key reference point for the EU Commission, Members of Parliament and member state governments as they refine Europe’s 2050 roadmap towards a low-carbon economy. It provides policymakers with an integrated vision of policy levers, innovations and investments that would enable Europe to become the first zero-carbon economy by mid-century.
    The Energy Transitions Commission supports the objective of limiting global warming ideally to 1.5°C and, at the very least, well below 2°C. In the wake of the IPCC’s urgent call for action, the “Mission Possible” report sends a clear signal to policymakers, investors and businesses: full decarbonization is possible, making ambitious climate objectives achievable.
    Key policy levers to accelerate the decarbonization of harder-to-abate sectors include:
    • Tightening carbon-intensity mandates on industrial processes, heavy-duty transport and the carbon content of consumer products.
    • Introducing adequate carbon pricing, strongly pursuing the ideal objective of internationally agreed and comprehensive pricing systems, but recognizing the potential also to use prices which are differentiated by sector, applied to downstream consumer products and defined in advance.
    • Encouraging the shift from a linear to a circular economy through appropriate regulation on materials efficiency and recycling.
    • Investing in the green industry, through R&D support, deployment support, and the use of public procurement to create initial demand for “green” products and services.
    • Accelerating public-private collaboration to build necessary energy and transport infrastructure.
    Industries and investors can anticipate the profound transformation in industry and transport they will eventually face by innovating and investing in decarbonization technologies and low-carbon infrastructure. The ETC provides the fact base for industry groups and private companies to develop roadmaps, collaborations and projects aiming for net-zero carbon emissions in their sectors. It also encourages businesses across multiple sectors to question their procurement practices and make commitments to buying “green” products and services.
    The members of the Energy Transitions Commission are committed to achieving a net-zero carbon economy by mid-century. They are convinced that succeeding in that historic endeavor would not only limit the harmful impact of climate change, but would also drive prosperity and deliver important local environmental benefits.

  • Unilever enters strategic partnership with Bio-on to ‘green’ the personal care sector


    This collaboration is designed to meet the demands of consumers, who are increasingly concerned about sustainability

    nUnilever and Bio-on announce the start of a strategic partnership to develop, produce and sell personal hygiene and care products that guarantee a smaller or no environmental impact. Using patented bio-technologies for natural, biodegradable microplastics production, Unilever and Bio-on are taking an important step towards building a more sustainable economy and more responsible consumption in the personal care sector.

     nThis collaboration is designed to meet the demands of consumers, who are increasingly concerned about sustainability and making purchasing choices that respect the environment, whilst making the most of the skills and excellence at both companies.

    Unilever’s knowledge and large-scale presence on the personal care market with noted brands such as Mentadent, Dove, Zendium, Glysolid, and Sunsilk, teams up with the exclusive know-how of Bio-on, the Italian company listed on the AIM segment of Borsa Italiana and specialised in biotechnologies applied to widely used materials, to create completely natural products and solutions.

    “For Unilever, developing a partnership with such an excellent Italian company as Bio-on is an important step towards the goals we have set ourselves with the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, primarily to halve the environmental impact of our products by 2030,” claims Fulvio Guarneri, Chairman & CEO of Unilever Italia. “This collaboration makes us very proud because it is one of the most important examples through which Unilever is making concrete moves towards sustainability in our business strategy.”

    “Research into innovative products and cutting-edge formulations that respect the environment and people is now a priority in the personal care sector,” explains Marco Astorri, Chairman and CEO of Bio-on. “We are very pleased to work alongside such a major player as Unilever, with which we will have the great opportunity to introduce real sustainable innovation whilst reaching an increasingly broad consumer base.” Bio-on will work with Unilever through two new companies, which will focus 100% on exploiting exclusive technologies to develop, produce and supply personal care products.

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