In 2008, the UK set ambitious targets for tackling climate change. To mark this anniversary two projects from The Environment Now have shared their thoughts and how their businesses are making a difference.
Tackling climate change one wipe at a time!
Twipes was founded in 2015 by biochemist Elle and entrepreneur Al to tackle the issue of non-flushable wet wipes and has had support from The Environment Now.
2008 was a year of many great global achievements. President Obama became the first black President in the USA, China hosted the Olympic Games, and of course, Britney made a comeback.
But one of the landmark achievements of 2008 for the UK was the Climate Change Act. A key piece of legislation that set ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In honour of the tenth anniversary of the Climate Change Act, and because we love our planet, the team here at Twipes thought that we’d take this opportunity to talk about why we maintain a positive environmental outlook on the future!
The Climate Change Act has led to a wide variety of fields involving themselves in advancing climate action across the past decade. We’ve seen this first hand, from our attendance at the Green Finance Summit this past July – where the finance sector was taking the initiative in unlocking funding for green infrastructure, and across the aisle to our honouring at the LSX Sustainable Cities Awards – where engineering giants such as Siemens were doing their part for our planet.
But the UK must not become complacent. In light of the tenth anniversary, the government could use this opportunity to make a strong case for pushing our global partners to join us in leading the charge towards a low carbon future.
Young people too can be the push needed for a better future. The Twipes team have tried to do our part as planeteers!
Twipes came to be, as a lab idea back in 2015, because at the time there were no truly flushable wet wipes on the market. We’ve developed truly flushable wipes that fully break down in water and are biodegradable, meaning no more fatbergs, no more wipes washing up on riverbeds and no more micro-plastics in our oceans!
The importance of The Environment Now, in helping us achieve this is, has been unimaginable. The Environment Now is a programme of 50 projects by young people, in collaboration with O2’s Go Think Big, The National Youth Agency and Our Bright Future. The programme has helped with everything from funding Twipes, to guidance with Twipes and even introducing us to key collaboration partners for the future.
The support of the Environment Now programme really does give us hope that we can inspire other young people, like ourselves, to follow their dreams and develop their ideas, which can all lead to a more sustainable future. The next environmental challenges affecting the world, perhaps for the next decade, will be reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, removing plastics (particularly micro-plastics) from our oceans and tackling air pollution.
And the progress made this past decade, as marked by the tenth anniversary of the Climate Change Act, means that together, across all sectors and industries, across all ages, with collaborations such as Twipes and The Environment Now, we can achieve our goals.
Could grown-up veg help curb climate change?
LettUs Grow was founded in 2015 by three Bristol University graduates. They design aeroponic irrigation and control technology for indoor farms and have had support from The Environment Now programme.
It’s been 10 years since the Climate Change Act of 2008. Sadly, the anniversary comes hot on the heels of the devastating UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report stating that at 1.5C rise is now inevitable, and immediate action is needed to keep temperatures rising any further.
Global warming and greenhouse gas emissions are two of the defining problems of our generation. Agriculture is a big piece of the puzzle, producing a third of global emissions. But the problem of global food security is much more than just emissions. A stable food supply is a fundamental human need and there is a severe lack of innovative solutions to help feed the next generation. If this isn’t addressed, it will impact on every one of us. We’ll need to increase food production by 70% by 2050 to feed an expected population of 9 billion. This will need to be done with 25% less farmland, degrading soils and an increasingly unstable climate.
At LettUs Grow, we believe that it’s not just up to governments and consumers to make a change. Businesses need to play a key role in delivering technology that makes tackling climate change possible. Because of this, we devoted ourselves to finding food-focused solutions. By combining our backgrounds in engineering and biology we’ve found innovative ways to help indoor farmers scale up their operations to compete with traditional agriculture. Our novel technology builds on the successes of hydroponics and addresses many of the issues which have been holding back indoor farming.
A common misconception about plants is that they only “breathe” through their leaves, but part of the oxygen and CO2 they use is also absorbed through their roots. By suspending our plants’ roots in the nutrient dense mist rather than in water, we’ve overcome some of the problems faced by hydroponics. Because they’re not submerged, plants can respire optimally during their whole life cycle. Using this system, called aeroponics, we’ve seen up to a 70% increase in crop yields over hydroponics.
As is often the way, aeroponic growing’s biggest strength can also be its greatest downfall. Most systems produce their mist by pushing nutrient-rich water through strips of nozzles. The small holes quickly become clogged with falling plant debris and a buildup of salts and nutrients – much like how limescale forms inside a kettle. We’ve developed a system without any nozzles, so there is nothing to clog and break. Alongside our patent-pending hardware, we’ve also developed an integrated farm management software system, called Ostara®, which reduces labour requirements, optimises conditions for plant growth and makes farmers’ lives easier.
It hasn’t been an easy journey getting here and choosing to make LettUs Grow a full-time venture was a huge leap into the unknown at the time as we were developing something completely new. It is something we would not have been able to do without the support of The Environment Now.
Securing your first investment at the start of a tech venture is notoriously difficult. By providing funding for material costs, The Environment Now enabled us to put together our prototype and transition from three students with an idea to a registered company with proof of concept. Not only did this provide us with the chance to prove our technology worked, but it reinforced the idea that we were worth investing in. From there, The Environment Now helped us to access more funding at a really pivotal time, which meant we could invest in the people and equipment needed to grow as rapidly as we have.
Having that help right from the start was vital for the development of LettUs Grow and it’s been amazing having The Environment Now fighting our corner ever since. Their continued support and enthusiasm have been invaluable. It’s helped us move from milestone to milestone – from delivering to our first customers, to flying to Amsterdam and pitching as a finalist in the Green Challenge global sustainability award.