Startups Contributing To A More Sustainable Planet

June 5, 2020

Happy International Environmental Day! Since 1974 on the 5th of June policy makers, civil society, public figures and others use their platform to raise awareness about the environment. One day a year doesn’t seem enough as our food, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the climate that makes our planet habitable all come from nature. In other words, it’s vital that we protect our planet by transitioning to ways or production and living that are respectful of the environment.

At Allied for Startups we believe startups and innovation have a fundamental role to play in the transition to a greener, more sustainable future. In fact, over the last few years we have witnessed a growing trend of startups that are looking for solutions to our environmental emergency or are using significantly more sustainable and environmentally-friendly ways of production. We have also observed a sharp increase in venture capital funding directed towards innovation that is climate responsible and eco-friendly.

We thought today was a very special day to shred some light on a few startups (of many) that are contributing to a cleaner, more sustainable planet! Here is a list of 6 startups leading the way.

6 Startups that are changing the world 

The Ocean Clean up: According to Plastic Oceans, more than 8 million tons of plastic are dumped in our oceans every year. Consequently, 1 in 3 species of mammals get entangled in plastic and more than 90% of seabirds consume plastic. In 2018 Deloitte calculated that the annual cost of plastic pollution in the ocean is $6-19 billion a year to key economic sectors for coastal communities. Dutch startup entrepreneur Boyan Slat founded The Ocean Clean up project in 2013 with the purpose that now defines their mission: to clean up 90% of plastic pollution. Through two forms of technology: one that rids the oceans of plastic through natural sea forces (energy efficient and sustainable) and a second that aims to reduce the amount of plastic by intercepting plastics in rivers, before it reaches the oceans. Slat’s startup has already significantly and trailblazing technology for the future.

Impossible Foods has literally managed the impossible! The startup produces cruelty-free, hormone-free, meat-free delicious burgers, sausages and many other products. The startup produces plant-based substitutes for dairy, fish and meat. “The company’s mission is to replace the world’s most destructive technology–the use of animals in food production–by 2035,” said CEO Patrick Brown said in March.  Intensive animal farming is directly related to deforestation and alteration of the natural environment, animal cruelty, risks to human health over use of pesticides and antibiotics in animal husbandry. Imagine eating a burger that has none of the aforementioned consequences, is healthy and tastes delicious. That’s where impossible foods comes in. It’s not surprising that the company raised $500M in Series F in March and is rapidly expanding to new markets, despite the difficult venture capital environment because of COVID-19.

Ecosia: the startup that has combined two seemingly unrelated activities: surfing the web and planting trees. The idea is original to say the least. How does it work? The search engine makes profits from advertising, so for every click on an labelled ad the company makes a profit. Unlike other search engines, 80% of the company’s profits go to supporting tree planting projects. Some of these initiatives have included: Plant a Billion Trees program, reforestation in Burkina Faso in 2015. The same year they were shortlisted for the European Tech Startup Awards under the BEST European Startups Aimed at Improving Society. Earlier this year Ecosia donated the totality of its profits to Reforest Now.

AMP robotics employs artificial intelligence and robotics technology to modernise recycling operations and help the planet achieve zero waste goals. Startup’s intelligent robotics system can perform manual tasks of picking, sorting and placing the materials. Its deep learning and machine vision technology enables real-time pattern recognition to identify what the material is and whether it is recyclable. The system can identify different shapes, colours, sizes, texture and even the brand labels, while an online data visualisation tool monitors material stream activity, enabling facility operators to make informed decisions. Last month, the Colorado-based startup announced the milestone of one billion recyclables processed over the previous 12 months and is planning to expand in Europe and other international markets.

Starship Technologies is a robotics startup building fleets of autonomous robots for food and package deliveries. Electrically powered robots do not produce greenhouse gases and help reduce traffic pollution and congestion by reducing the need for cars in the delivery process. Robots move at pedestrian speed and can navigate around objects and people. Parcels, groceries and food are directly delivered from stores, at the time that the customer requests via a mobile app. The service is also cheaper than traditional delivery methods. Founded by the Skype co-founders in 2016, the startup now operates in several cities around the world. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this startups’ robots have helped reduce human contact and offered free deliveries to health care workers.

Did you know that the global food system accounts for 20-25% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions? CarbonCloud is a startup providing digital tools to food producers, restaurants and consumers to make smart choices and reduce their carbon footprint. Startup’s CarbonData platform allows food producers to precisely calculate their climate footprint at each process step along the production chain. CarbonCloud’s other solution, CarbonAte, is an online menu planning tool that helps restaurants and chefs to develop and promote climate-smart dishes. According to CarbonCloud, the use of their tools not only enables businesses to reduce their climate footprint but also to ensure compliance with the coming climate policies, increase customer loyalty and win procurements.

Startups developing solutions to support the environmental sustainability range from planting trees and cleaning up the natural habitat to employing cutting-edge technologies to advance the green economy, reduce carbon emissions and revolutionise the way we produce and consume food and other resources. Startups and their innovative solutions address climate change, support the circular economy and empower individuals and businesses to make greener and more sustainable choices every day.

As countries, organizations and civil societies around the world are taking actions to tackle climate change and support the transition to the green economy, startups have an important role to play in making it a reality. In the EU, a new recovery instrument has been announced to support the recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic – Next Generation EU, which focuses on green and digital transition. We believe this instrument is perfectly placed to tap into the potential of startups who are at the frontline of digital and green innovation.

Let’s make sure startups have everything they need to support the green transformation!