US States Leading the Way

California and Massachusetts have become the leading US states investing in clean tech.  As a recent article in the CSMoniter points out,

Global investment in clean-tech research and enterprises approached $100 billion in 2007, and much of that money was invested in the United States. Of about $3 billion in “green” venture capital worldwide, half went to enterprises in California, and Massachusetts got about 10 percent.

The article goes on to point out that half of all US states have now launched initiatives to aggressively grow clean tech industries.  In terms of jobs alone, clean tech now employs more than 14,500 people in Massachusetts, growing at a rate of 20% per year.

Among the reasons listed for how some states have been able to successfully grow such robust clean tech industry: access to graduates from good universities, increased government support, access to local resources and raw materials.

Renewable Plastic

By now you’ve run into some of the media coverage concerning potentially toxic plastics used for items such as water bottles. Particular concern was sparked in Canada, where the ministry of health even went as far as to ban certain bottles from being sold in the country.

As someone who drinks plenty of water from the tap, transported often via my nalgene bottle, this left me particularly concerned. Aspects like the age of my bottle, type of plastic used, and other details, have all become subject of extensive research and reflection; what is this thing I drink my water from?

So then at the Brooklyn Bridge office I get word about a renewable plastic company. Renewable plastic, the term itself sparks plenty of interest. I picture a non toxic, planet friendly plastic, both from how it is created, to when I make use of it, to after I’ve disposed of it… that is what I would hope for.

The company’s name is Cereplast. An initial look at how they describe their products is already encouraging,

All Cereplast resins replace a significant percentage of petroleum-based additives with starches made out of corn, wheat, tapioca and potatoes.

Exciting to anyone who doubts the ease with which such plastic could be produced, Celeplast says that their products can be made using conventional manufacturing equipment. When you add to that the fact that most, if not all, national governments as well as at the European Union level, are passing laws that will require health and environmental related reforms in the manufacturing and use of plastics, seems like Cereplast is exactly what I’d like my waterbottle to be made of.

To finish off the post for today, I recommend this list of documents released by the Biodegradable Products Institute in NYC. I think the plastic bottle of my dreams will be listed in there somewhere.

Leaving Your Footprint

I’ve been spending time reading through the Global Footprint Network’s website. Their slogan, “Advancing the Science of Sustainability”.

Among the more interesting parts of their site, the section which features data in graphs and charts is particularly informative.  Here’s one example, global ecological footprint’s divided by region:

The site also allows you to view national footprints for a large selection of countries. Since the TBLI Conference Asia is coming up, I chose Thailand. Have a look at the chart broken down by component:

Thailand

Sustainable Investment in Switzerland

Zurich based onValues released their survey last week entitled “Sustainable investments in Switzerland 2007”.  Here’s an excerpt of the executive summary:

The survey also asked participants to highlight emerging themes for the next 2-3 years. The
most frequently mentioned ones were (in decreasing order of importance):

• Sustainability issues in emerging markets (e.g. infrastructure, energy and
environmental aspects). Participants seem convinced that the combination of
interesting investment opportunities and the huge sustainable development
challenges in emerging markets offers potential for interesting investment products
satisfying both the ‘altruistic’ and the financial motives of investors.
• New materials/recycling
• Sustainable commodities (e.g. timber and second-generation biofuels)
• Microfinance and other strategies to combat poverty (seen as important but leading to
lower AuM than the top themes)
• Healthy living (seen as important but leading to lower AuM than the top themes).

Click here to download the whole thing as a PDF.