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Instead of teaching me how to recycle, why not do it automatically. (Image: CleanRobotics)

This week we chatted with Zak Wehman from CleanRobotics about their solution for waste collection, and how they are thinking about the future of the sector.

Can you describe what your company does, the impact, and how it differs from other competitors in the space?

CleanRobotics is a mission driven startup that is reinventing the way we think about recycling across the globe. We are creating a robotic trash can by combining next-generation robotics and sensor technology to automatically sort recyclables from everyday trash. By deploying our TrashBots, we can achieve huge impact.

With just 2 TrashBots, we can sort 30,000 items with 90% accuracy, whereas conventional sorting is only 30% accurate. This diverts 1,800 lbs or recyclables from going to landfill, compared to 650 lbs with conventional bins. According to the EAP, for every ton of recyclables diverted, you divert a ton of carbon dioxide — 2 TrashBots can offset 5 tons of carbon dioxide, which is equal to taking one car off the road for a year. Beside carbon reductions, our TrashBots save 1,500 gallons of water each.


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Zero emissions travel is becoming a hot sector for investors to push into. (Image: Ampaire)

ZeroAvia, raised a $37.7M Series A, backed by some big investors, including Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Amazon Climate Pledge Fund, Shell Ventures, and Ecosystem Integrity Fund. ZeroAvia is building a hydrogen-powered, zero-emission powertrain for commercial air travel.

Why does this matter?


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Sustainability spans more than just traditional commerce. (Image: Nathalia Rosa)

This week, Damian Estrada, the Founder and CEO of Mandatum, discussed what he is working on. Mandatum is turning e-commerce’s unsustainable inefficiencies into money for the Amazon Rainforests, savings for shoppers, and profits for brands. Below are the key takeaways from the conversation.

Why does this matter?

  • The Amazon rainforest accounts for more than half of the entire world’s remaining rainforests. It is also referred to as the ‘Lungs of the Planet’ because it produces more than 20% of the world’s oxygen. It plays a critical role in maintaining climate function regionally and globally, a contribution which everyone depends on.
  • In Colombia, where 10% of the Amazon Rainforest resides and covers 46% of the country, there is deforestation, which causes wildfires, impacts the biodiversity, and displaces natives, generating extreme poverty, unemployment, illnesses, and violence. …


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Consumer behavioral changes are driving a new subset of platforms tuned towards sustainability. (Image: Susty)

Consumer behavior plays a big role in trends and markets. Tara Jafarmadar Mujica, the CEO of Susty, explains what she is working on and how she is hoping to influence consumer behavior through product awareness — social, health, and environment.

How/why did you start Susty?

Susty started initially from a personal frustration around how difficult it was to be a conscious consumer. It would take me hours on end researching, learning, and contacting brands to learn more about their social and environmental goals and standards. …


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Analytics drive orgs to achieve zero waste. (Image: Zabble)

This week Nik Balachandran, Founder and CEO of Zabble, discusses what he is working on and the broader waste management sector.

Can you describe what Zabble does and its impact?

Zabble’s mission is to enable organizations to achieve zero waste by delivering real-time actionable insights. We have developed a 360-degree zero-waste management platform that: 1) helps universities and hospitals monitor their waste streams within their buildings, and 2) automates invoices received from the haulers to extract service levels, costs and any anomalous charges. We help our clients create campaigns to reduce contamination, find alternatives to generate less waste and stay on top of their waste bills and service levels with real-time analytics. …


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Mushrooms might be used as leather. (Image: MycoWorks)

MycoWorks, a startup creating materials at the intersection of art, nature and biotechnology using mycelium, recently raised a $45M Series B. Their mission is to benefit the world with new materials that offer superior performance, unprecedented design possibilities and new paradigms for sustainability with their reishi mycelium (rather than leather).

Why does this matter?

  • 73% of the materials used globally to produce clothing are sent to landfil or burned at the end of their life. Additionally, less than 1% of old clothing goes on to be used to make new clothing.
  • Roughly $500B is lost every year from clothing not being worn and not recycled, and if nothing changes, the fashion industry will use up a quarter of the world’s carbon budget. On top of that, washing clothes releases 500K tons of microplastic into the ocean every year. …

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Making oil from used coffee grounds is another way to save the environment. (Image: The Kawa Project)

The Kawa Project is taking spent coffee grounds and upcycling them to create coffee oil and refined oil — both have multiple use cases, from soap and cleaners to candles. Following a previous piece on Kaffe Bueno’s business, Aaron Feigelman, the Founder of The Kawa Project, discusses more about coffee upcycling and what he is working on

How did you start The Kawa Project?

Starting back in high school, I was fascinated by chemistry and care about sustainability. I was further inspired by Revive Eco, as they were creating palm oil from coffee grounds. …


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People everywhere are fighting to help improve the climate. (Image: Eelco)

This week Rohit Vedhara, the Director of Aum Energy, talks about their innovation in anaerobic digestion and how it ties in with policy and the market.

Can you describe what your company does?

Aum Energy is innovating at the intersection of advanced biology and agriculture to expand the scope of anaerobic digestion (AD) by developing proprietary microbial solutions. The end result is low carbon renewable natural gas (RNG / biogas) and organic fertilizer.

The importance of AD has been highlighted in recent years by a variety of teams, such as Michigan State’s Biogasdoneright collaboration, Iowa State’s C-Change and the IEA’s Bioenergy Task 37 group, led by Jerry Murphy from the Environmental Research Institute in Cork, Ireland. …


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Upcycling has taken over the food industry. Kaffe Bueno is one applying to coffee. (Image: Kaffe Bueno)

Wake up and smell the coffee! Kaffe Bueno, a startup upcycling coffee grounds, raised $1.3M in seed funding. Kaffe Bueno is using green chemistry and biotechnology to extend coffee’s potential — minimizing emissions and maximizing reuse.

Why does this matter?


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Energy storage as a whole is a huge market opportunity. (Image: Terrament)

Terrament is building affordable, large scale energy storage. This week Eric Chaves, the Founder of Terrament, talked about his solution for energy storage — Modular Underground Gravity Storage (MUGS). He believes that Terrament can provide a cheap, scalable solution for grid-scale long duration energy storage.

Below are the key takeaways from the conversation, and if you want to dig deeper, check out Eric’s research paper.

Why does this matter?

  • Today, inefficient peaker plants are used as backup electricity supply. This problem can be solved by storing excess energy and then releasing it into the grid during peak demand.
  • Today, only 2% of energy on the grid comes from storage. Of that, 94% comes from pumped hydro storage. Chemical batteries on the other hand, are less than 5% of the market, and only about 0.1% of the grid’s power can be stored in chemical batteries today. …

About

Daniel Kriozere

Impact Investment Analyst at One World | Startup Weekend Facilitator | Climate Tech Enthusiast

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