A lot happened in 2022 – some good, some bad and others great. We wanted to spotlight the positive stories of incredible innovations, organisations and individuals committed to making a positive impact.
1.The EU has agreed to a new law to fight global deforestation
In a world first, companies will have to show that their products have not contributed to deforestation if they want to sell in the EU. The law will require companies to trace their commodities back along the supply chain to the plot of land and prove that forest was not recently cleared or face fines.
According to a WWF report, European Union countries are responsible for 16% of tropical deforestation linked to internationally traded commodities like meat, rubber, palm oil or soy.
2. IKEA Buys Land Damaged by Hurricane to Plant Forests
Ikea purchased 3,200 acres of forest in Florida that a hurricane had destroyed to restore it with longleaf pine. It is a part of the retail giant’s commitment to carbon neutrality. They've accumulated more than 600,000 forested acres in the U.S., Europe, and New Zealand to offset the CO2 it releases during its entire value chain.
3. Drones created to swallow tonnes of plastic waste before it reaches the ocean
The Dutch company RanMarine has deployed several 157 centimetre wide aquatic drones called WasteSharks that capture rubbish and bring it back to land. The drones can hold 160 litres of trash, floating plants and algae, according to RanMarine Technology.
4. The world’s largest vertical farm is being built in the UK - The size of 96 tennis courts
The world’s largest vertical farm is being built to help end the UK’s reliance on imported foods. British retailers already get almost a third of their fresh basil from Jones Food Company, alongside other leafy greens, at Europe’s largest vertical farm in Lincolnshire. Now they are experimenting with growing soft fruits, flowers and vegetables on a commercial scale. A state-of-the-art innovation centre has just opened near the city of Bristol where researchers are working to make these ideas a reality in the next 10 years.
5. Sir David Attenborough named Champion of the Earth by the UN
Sir David Attenborough has been named a Champion of the Earth by the UN's Environment Programme. The prestigious award recognises the 95-year-old's commitment to the natural world and communicating the impact of climate change.
6. Solar energy can now be stored for up to 18 years, say scientists
In 2017, scientists at a Swedish university created an energy system that made it possible to capture and store solar energy for up to 18 years, releasing it as heat when needed. Now the researchers have succeeded in getting the system to produce electricity by connecting it to a thermoelectric generator. This tech could pave the way for self-charging electronics that use stored solar energy on demand.
7. Forest project aim to save rare birds in the northeast of Brazil
A project in northeastern Brazil is working to connect the Atlantic Forest in an effort to save species of birds from extinction. The plan is to reforest 173 acres in the states of Pernambuco and Alagoas by 2023.
8. A radical, carbon negative project in Turkey is turning algae into bio-jet fuel
Istanbul is home to the first ever carbon-negative biorefinery in Europe; it is utilising algae to make a variety of products for multiple sectors in Turkey. It's a biorefinery that turns organic material into energy and useful products including fuel, food supplements and fertilisers.
9. Woodlands ensure biodiversity that enable red squirrels to thrive
There has been a 20% decline of the native red squirrel since the alien grey was introduced a century ago. However, studies from the Royal Society of Biological Sciences show that native predators in native woodland and not conifer plantations, are key ingredients for red squirrel survival.
10. New Type of Plastic Made Directly From Organic Plant Waste
Researchers in Switzerland have discovered a new easy-to-make plastic-like material from organic plant waste that could be used in everything from packaging and textiles to medicine and electronics. To make the plastic, scientists ‘cooked’ wood and other non-edible plant materials in inexpensive chemicals to make a plastic precursor. The sugar structure stays intact within the molecular structure of the plastic, making it much cheaper than other types of alternative plastic.
Eco anxiety can affect us all. The deluge of projections and data add very little to the personal experience of environmental change. If this fear-led approach successfully changed behaviours, we would have resolved the climate issues that we faced decades ago.
Though there are many challenges ahead of us, there are always things to celebrate and champion. Here's to more innovations in 2023. Together, we can conquer anything! Follow Ode to Earth on Instagram and Facebook where we regularly share Good Eco News.