Circular economy: 5 start-ups to watch in 2019

To meet our major environmental challenges, five start-ups from around the world are committed to making our economy more circular in 2019. We take a look at their innovations.

Named Curran, this agent is produced by extracting cellulose nanofibers from waste root vegetables - such as carrots and sugar beet. It would take the natural environment a century to produce a centimeter of fertile soil. Edaphos can do it in just a few months. In the Arcachon basin in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Femer is a start-up that makes fish leather from waste skins produced by the seafood industry.

1. CELLUCOMP, a 100% natural concrete additive from vegetables

Cement manufacturing represents approximately 7 to 8% of the global CO2 emissions. To limit its use, the Scottish start-up CelluComp has developed an alternative: a 100% sustainable additive for industrial products. Named Curran, this agent is produced by extracting cellulose nanofibers from waste root vegetables - such as carrots and sugar beet. It can be used in a wide variety of products: paints, composite materials, concrete, stationery, as well as for food and pharmaceuticals. An excellent material for replacing cement and which when added to concrete even increases its strength. Something that will help reduce global emissions of carbon dioxide and preserve the planet.
 

2. LONO, a microdigester for producing biogas at home

In sub-Saharan Africa, consumption of wood and coal - mainly for domestic use – represents over 60% of the local energy demand. It is also one of the causes of deforestation. To deal with this problem, the start-up LONO, in Côte d’Ivoire since 2016, launched KubeKo Solar Biogas. This biomass microdigester, accessible for rural populations, operates on a very simple principle: domestic and agricultural organic waste, whether liquid or solid, is placed in the device which then produces biogas. It can be used for example for clean cooking in the home, as a biofertilizer, or even as electricity to cover a household’s energy needs.
 

3. EDAPHOS, creating fertile land by recovering construction waste

Erosion, loss of nutrients and biodiversity, acidification, pollution and salinization... Every year, between 25 and 40 billion metric tons of the planet’s "epidermis" disappear. Plots of land become sterile, unusable for agriculture. Transforming these inert soils into fertile soils is the idea of the Swiss start-up Edaphos. How? Through a process of biological engineering, based on the properties of the mycelium, the vegetative part of mushrooms. It makes it possible to transform construction waste (rubble, plaster, etc.) into fertile soil for agriculture, horticulture or viticulture by accelerating the soil renewal process. Building site waste is recycled directly on construction sites and can be used to meet the various needs for soil: brownfield rehabilitation, eroded agricultural soils, parks and urban gardens. It would take the natural environment a century to produce a centimeter of fertile soil. Thanks to this innovation, Edaphos can do it in just a few months.
 

4. SULAPAC, biodegradable straws made from wood residues

Straws, cutlery, tumblers, cotton swabs... All these disposable products will be banned in the European Union from 2021. To prepare for this change, the start-up Sulapac in Finland has developed a more environmentally friendly solution in partnership with the renewable materials company Stora Enso. The idea? Recyclable straws, free of microplastics and fully biodegradable in the sea. They are made from wood residues from the silviculture industry and natural binders. The company hopes to begin selling them to straw suppliers in the coming months.
 

5. FEMER, fish skins recycled into leather 

More than 230,000 metric tons of fish waste are generated annually around the world. And it is waste that is still rarely recovered, according to the National Establishment for Agricultural and Marine Products (FranceAgriMer).
In the Arcachon basin in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Femer is a start-up that makes fish leather from waste skins produced by the seafood industry. Formerly thrown away by fishmongers, trout, salmon and sea bass are now transformed into leather by means of a 100% vegetable tanning process using tannins from mimosas and plant galls, developed by the company Femer. "It is only because the skins are food chain residues that the company transforms them into leather," says the company for which eco-responsibility is at the heart of its concerns and its development. And to provide access to employment for everyone, on some tanning processes the start-up works in collaboration with an establishment that promotes work for people with disabilities. Something that combines the circular economy and solidarity.

 

Main picture: © Veolia © Noémie Rosset

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