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The most talked about sustainable technology trends in 2023…
Sustainability is more than just “trending”.
It feels like sustainability has been the word of the year. Many companies have made 2023 the year of greener supply chains, solutions, and consumer products. There has been a flood of companies announcing BCorp certifications and new, stricter CSR policies. Something that shows no signs of slowing down…
The industry is currently worth $16.5 billion(USD). According to Statistica, it is predicted to grow to £61 billion(USD) by 2030. Tech innovation has become the backbone of green initiatives, driving innovative solutions and data analysis. A seemingly safe bet for investors. Despite this, equity investment in climate tech start-ups has declined for the second year in a row, according to PwC. So, where does that leave the market?
As another UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) comes to a close, what are the most popular topics in the sustainable technology industry right now and how could this change in 2024?
Is Carbon Capture the answer to Net Zero 2050?
How does Carbon Capture work? Carbon dioxide is separated, compressed, captured, and then stored in porous rock such as limestone. Companies such as Heirloom Carbon are even using these materials in building and infrastructure. This method is becoming increasingly popular with companies looking to offset their carbon footprint; typically through the purchase of tokens or ‘carbon credits’.
It is currently the leading choice for businesses and governments, including Microsoft and the financial sector. The service enables companies to offset their own carbon emissions without necessarily making changes to their supply chain to reduce their carbon footprint. The U.K. Government has also committed to the capture and storage of 20-30 million tonnes of CO2 per year by 2030.
Renewable Energy adoption rises, but fossils remain stubborn.
In 2022, renewable energy accounted for a record-breaking 40% of electricity in the U.K.. Which is on track for the current target to run completely on “clean energy” (including nuclear and renewables) by 2035. As a result, energy companies have increased their investment in wind and solar farms, but have cited the need for better storage (batteries), data analysis and weather predictions to harness the full potential of these resources.
The shift in public opinion of fossil fuels has also seen more households taking the matter into their own hands; installing their own solar panels or choosing green energy providers. There has also been a huge increase in the adoption of Electric Vehicles (for personal use and public transportation). This trend is predicted to rise further with the launch of more affordable models, increased Electric Vehicle Charging (EVC) infrastructure, and the looming 2035 ban of new combustion engines.
However, the future isn’t all-green yet, as the UK government commissioned new oil and gas drilling licences in the North Sea this year, sparking controversy. Additionally, the global carbon emissions from fossil fuels are also predicted to hit a record high by the end of 2023. In this respect, the future of fossil fuels remains unknown.
Zero Waste – how do we reduce e-waste?
Every year, the world generates around 40 million tons of e-waste. Which, for context, is like throwing away 800 laptops every second. The majority of e-waste ends up in landfills in Africa and Asia, where it breaks down and pollutes land and water supplies.
In the last year, many tech companies, from Apple to seed-funded start-ups, have released environmental progress reports, focussing on the reduction of e-waste and responsible sourcing of materials.
How can businesses reduce e-waste?
- Using data erasure software to refurbish and reuse devices.
- Donating old devices to a charity, library, or school.
- Regulated standards for responsible manufacturing practices and waste reduction.
- Utilising stringent and ethical recycling programmes for materials such as metals, plastics and rare earth elements like lithium.
- Educating customers about the impact of e-waste and ways to reduce, reuse/upcycle or recycle their devices and gadgets.
2024 – Back to the future?
Climate tech predicted to steal the limelight in 2024 includes emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
AI/ML are enhancing sustainable tech capability. By developing risk models to predict and identify sustainably risk factors, the software can also recommend solutions to bridge the current gaps in performance and process.
Another emerging trend is the controversial use of Blockchain to support sustainability. While it has the potential to support ESG processes, Blockchain also has a very high energy impact. This has lead to PwC creating a Blockchain Sustainability Framework. The framework quantifies the blockchain footprint and recommends ways to reduce or offset this impact.
2023 persisted with the unpredictability of the previous 2 years. “phase out” fossil fuels has been watered down. The state of the global economy also makes it unlikely that investment in the tech or climate industries will return to pre-pandemic levels any time soon. With that said, new start-ups across all industries are emerging with greener business plans and processes. The next generations entering the workforce are coming equipped with new ideas, initiatives and passion to make climate-first choices in their careers. Overall, it looks like the industry will continue to be resilient in a difficult economic time. It is likely that innovation will be driven by the private sector in the U.K., but this may change with the governments Spring Statement announcement.
Companies making an impact
Raising the bar on carbon removal, with a removal planner that guides you to becoming NetZero.
Revolutionising the carbon market with finance and carbon credits.
Technology meets heavy industries! Creating a circular value chain with carbon waste and mineralisation.
Optimising infrastructure through combining building physics, carbon emissions & clean energy.
Driving sustainable finance in carbon accounting solutions.
Accelerating Electric Vehicles and a sustainable future through EV charging solutions to businesses across all sectors.
Providing impact through advanced technology for the global waste management industry.
If you’re looking to improve your companies’ impact on the environment, reduce carbon emissions and invest in ESG/CSR, get in touch with Formula Recruitment. Our consultants take an inch-wide, mile-deep approach to their specialist verticals to help you source the best tech talent and build a data-driven team to ensure you meet your climate targets.
Looking for a role in a sustainable tech company? Get in touch or check out our Jobs page and submit your CV.