A coffee cup that you can eat. Chairs made from recycled wood. A stationary bike that powers a blender when you pedal, to produce fruit smoothies. And a range of biodegradable packaging.
|A chair made from recycled wood by Pimp Your Waste.|
These were some of the items on display at Sustainable Brands Paris (SB Paris 2019), a ground-breaking event on creativity, innovation and sustainable development that took place April 23-25 in the French capital.
Organized by design agency Pixelis, the event attracted more than 3,000 participants who shared information about how art, design and technology can be used for sustainability, for combatting climate change, and for reducing waste. The speakers included “youth hactivators” who challenged corporations to improve their environmental policies.
“We all need to find solutions,” said Pixelis CEO Edouard Provenzani. “And that includes big brands, innovators, designers, consumers, youth.”
Provenzani, who founded Pixelis 22 years ago in France, said the main aim of the meeting was to help brands become “more environmentally aware, more useful and more efficient” in their sectors. The event forms part of the Sustainable Brands movement launched in 2006 in San Francisco, California, to help “design the future” of the business world.
“We want to demonstrate that sustainability is not a burden, but an innovation driver in every dimension of business,” Provenzani said.
|Pixelis CEO Edouard Provenzani|
He stressed that multinationals who contribute massively to the crises of carbon emissions, pollution and loss of biodiversity need to be part of the solutions.
They should demonstrate the measures they’re taking to improve their business models, even in the face of criticism because - as environmentalists have pointed out - doing “business as usual” will not meet the climate targets set in the Paris Agreement to reduce global warming, he added.
The companies that took part in SB Paris included small firms as well as the global consumer giants L’Oréal, Danone and Ikea, who staged exhibitions and discussed their sustainability pledges.
“We’ve assessed all our products … and we have a commitment that each will have a better impact on the environment than the previous one,” said Anthony Grassi, a communications representative for L’Oréal, the world’s leading company for “beauty” products - mostly sold up to now in single-use plastic containers.
The group says that it aims to play a “catalysing role” in addressing the challenge of climate change and that it is committed to making a “profound transformation towards a low-carbon business model”.
Actions include improving energy efficiency and using renewable energy at all manufacturing sites, L’Oréal says, as well as upgrading the “social and environmental” profile of products. It displayed its “certified organic” skincare line as well as biodegradable containers at SB Paris. Consumers can read the company’s “sustainable commitment” at:
|Plastic waste in the river Seine, near the venue of SB Paris.|
Still, “big companies are doing a terrible job in educating consumers”, says Mirela Orlovic, an activist and founder of UrbanMeisters, a green-lifestyle community for urbanites.
Orlovic told SWAN that the public often doesn’t know what to do with packaging or with items that they don’t need anymore, and that it’s mostly up to the media, including bloggers, to try to decipher and describe what is being done.
“Companies need to show consumers how sustainability can be part of their everyday life everywhere,” she said.
At SB Paris, Danone personnel showcased recyclable containers for brands including Evian water and certain yoghurts, saying that “cross-industry” collaboration is needed to address the “critical issue” of plastic waste.
Danone - which markets a range of beverages in plastic bottles, is active in some 120 countries and recorded income of 24.7 billion euros in 2017 - said that SB Paris was an opportunity to “showcase how together we are transforming our approach to plastic and changing the future of hydration”.
A representative said in an interview that recycling may not be the only solution, however, and that consumers would increasingly need to consider providing their own containers for products, as is already happening in some stores.
|Recyclable, reusable bottles among the solutions. - Danone|
According to a report published in Science Advances magazine and quoted by environmental group Greenpeace, only about 9 percent of plastic has been recycled, 12 percent has been incinerated “(polluting the air with toxic gases)”, and the other 79 percent remains in the environment.
Greenpeace says that if current production and waste management trends continue, there will be 12 billion tonnes of plastic in natural environments by 2050, including in the world’s oceans.
In Paris, Danone equally put focus on plant-based drinks produced by Alpro, the Belgian-based company it acquired in 2017. Alpro has expanded its range of beverages to now include soya, almond, oat and coconut “milks”, with the message that a “plant-based diet is better for the planet”, as Greet Vanderheyden, Alpro’s senior sustainable development and communication manager, told SWAN.
Alpro used its beverages in coffee to demonstrate the point, offering frothy, tasty coffee mixed with coconut milk, for instance, to SB Paris participants. This coffee was distributed in recyclable paper cups, but in another section of the event, participants were given coffee in cups that they could eat, taking sustainability a step further.
|Tassiopée serves coffee in cups that one can eat.|
The company responsible for the edible cups - made from organic ingredients - is Tassiopée, launched in 2016 in France, after many months of research and design. The idea is that eating your cup reduces waste and is good for the planet, and the cup is relatively low in calories too (about the same as two squares of chocolate), Tassiopée says.
The waste-reduction drive was evident in other items as well, such as wooden chairs made by the start-up “Pimp Your Waste” - begun by four friends who graduated from an architecture school in Paris.
“The motivation was to help reduce the amount of waste produced each year by the construction industry,” said Eric Dorleac, one of the co-founders. “All the material comes from building sites. We take it, transform it and create furniture."
The renewable energy section of SB2019 showcased a range of innovative products, including a stationary bike that participants can pedal to yield energy for food blenders. The bike can be used in restaurants or for special events where patrons can power-pedal to produce their drinks.
While these may be considered minor steps compared with the fundamental global change required in economic models, small-scale innovation is helping to address the issues, through putting creativity to effective use for sustainability, says Provenzani.
“We can use our creativity to change the model or to create a new model,” he told SWAN. “It’s an issue of urgency now because we’re running out of time.”
Further reading: http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/05/loss-biodiversity-puts-current-future-generations-risk/
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