Invest in solutions to the world’s gravest waste problem

The amount of waste generated in the world has reached truly chilling levels, It is estimated that the world population generates 2,000 million tonnes of waste per year and more than a third is not managed safely for the environment.

Given that there are approximately 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic waste in the world’s oceans and the global recycling rate of this material is estimated to be only 20% today, there is a huge and urgent need to make the products used in industries more sustainable. . , construction, textile sector, health and all other sectors.

The good news is that many small and highly innovative companies in Europe are rising to these challenges and proposing viable and sustainable solutions. Some companies are finding new uses for age-old and traditional materials such as cork and pine resin. Others create sustainable products, even biodegradable ones, in their labs to replace the petroleum derivatives on which we depend so heavily. As demand for these sustainable products increases, these companies may have promising growth opportunities.

The Dutch company Corbion is one of those that creates new and exciting products based on natural ingredients in the laboratory. Lactic acid and lactate are biobased emulsifiers used to create safe, natural and cost-effective ingredients for biodegradable skin and hair care products.

The company also produces polylactic acid (PLA), a polymer of biological origin, reusable and compostable with which materials can be made to replace plastic in many uses, from packaging to fibre, including This also includes its use in the automotive industry.

currently, Britain alone produces 230 million tonnes of waste a year: 1.3 kg of solid waste per person per day. In Europe this figure is 1.1 kg and in the United States it is 2 kg per day. Even waste that is separated and sorted for recycling often ends up being incinerated, landfilled or shipped overseas, where it cannot be effectively recycled or managed. Could

just to mention a few Examples of products that should be more sustainable: single-use plastic containers; sterile but disposable medical products; waterproof but polluting paint; plastic mounted solar panels; non-recycled car interiors; And endless production lines for plastic bags, boxes and utensils. It’s hard to imagine how much modern life could be changed by more sustainable products. But without major reforms in all areas, the world will be drowned in a tide of non-perishable waste.

The daily challenge of the Norwegian company Borregaard, a “biorefinery” that uses many components of wood to create biochemical products that replace petroleum derivatives, refined paints with equally refined products based on plants and sustainable, Glue and fuel have to be replaced. Biopolymers, cellulose specialty, biovanillin, cellulose fibrils and bioethanol produced by the company can be used in agriculture and aquaculture, construction, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, food and batteries as well as biofuels.

Since 1962, the firm has been manufacturing plant-based vanillin produced from spruce, which is used in the production of food and personal care products. This fir vanillin provides a 90% emission reduction compared to vanillin synthesized from crude oil.

A Portuguese company, Corticeira Amorim, is at the forefront of finding new uses for cork. Because cork is extracted from living trees, it is a negative carbon-emitting product. The cork tree’s outer layer must be 25 years old to be harvestable, but then the layer grows back and can be harvested again every nine years for the next 150 to 200 years. Of course, being a natural product, cork crops can be affected by fluctuating weather conditions and farm prices, making it more difficult to measure production, prices and profitability.

however, There is great potential for this lightweight, durable, insulating and biodegradable material. Corticera uses it to make artificial and sustainable grass playgrounds, insulation, acoustic panels and flooring, and is testing other innovative uses. The company collaborates with Renault in the manufacture of car seats and interiors; It has provided cork insulation for NASA’s Mars rover and European Space Agency spacecraft, and has lined wind turbine blades to reduce vibration. Floating cork solar panels were built in one of the EDP projects.

If we are to start doing something with the current mountains of waste in the world and stop the flow of new waste, many more innovative solutions are urgently needed.

Through our analysis, We seek to identify and invest in profitable small and mid cap companies with growth potential, earnings flexibility and momentum that can benefit people and the planet through their product offering.

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