22nd April 2021

Celebrating Earth Day 2021

Claire Corlett

Tackling climate change and the transition to net zero and beyond, to a regenerative economy and a sustainable future requires all organisations and ourselves to change what we do and how we do it. That transition will need to address decarbonisation, deliver sustainable consumption and production, and create a regenerative and sustainable bio-economy.

Tackling these global issues of climate change and sustainability requires innovation, collaboration, creativity and, increasingly, using and sharing geospatial data and analysis as ingredients to generating positive impact. Purposeful start-ups have a particular role to play in the transition; developing innovative data driven products, services and ventures with agility.

On this Earth Day we highlight some of the start-ups Geovation has worked with whose ventures are contributing to that transition.

How our startups are contributing to net zero targets

Net zero carbon requires both a reduction in the carbon emitted from our homes, workplaces, manufacturing and transport; and the sequestration of carbon by storing it in trees, soil and peat bogs for example.

Geovation member Buildeco working collaboratively across the construction sector, have pioneered the design, development and build of low cost, low carbon homes, using modular manufacturing and construction techniques; setting the standards for others to follow.

It is calculated 1.5billion trees need to be planted across Britain by 2050 to meet our climate change targets. Folarity.org, based at Geovation Scotland, are using data and AI techniques to engage both the public and industry to make sure the right trees get planted in the right place for the greatest beneficial impact.

Biocap.org.uk are an action orientated organisation addressing the biodiversity and climate crises through community led, landscape ecosystem restoration and carbon capture. BioCap will develop “Opportunity Maps”, of a regions countryside, that will provide a vision of where nature based activity, such as establishing trees, can be used to offset carbon and improve wildlife habitat.

There is no waste in the natural world; everything is used by, or breaks down into something else. A sustainable future means designing waste out of our production and consumption processes, and that means a fundamental change in our behaviour too.

Topolytics is a data analytics business that is making the world’s waste visible, verifiable and valuable. To quote: “Our platform WasteMap helps waste producers, the waste and recycling industry, investors and regulators to gain key insights into material types, amounts, concentrations, fates and their movements through the waste system. By ingesting, aggregating and analysing data at scale, the resulting live insights generate commercial and environmental value for all players in the waste materials and by-products supply chain.

The plastic challenge

Plastics production is a carbon intensive process and single use plastics are particularly damaging to the environment, flora and fauna. Helping us consumers become part of the solution are three mission driven start-ups: Refill, Planet Patrol and Kids Against Plastics.

Refill is an award-winning campaign from City to Sea to help people live with less plastic by making it easy to connect you to places to eat, drink and shop with less waste, through an app that connects to a global network of over 190,000 places.

Planet Patrol, is tackling plastic pollution at the source, and is growing globally. They run activity-based clean-ups across UK, Europe, USA and South America with 15,000 volunteers gathering and logging more than 300,000 examples of litter in the app. A recent annual litter report by Planet Patrol highlighted the inadequacy of current recycling infrastructure and the requirement for a standardised recycling system across the UK. Clearing up litter already costs the taxpayer £660 million every year and, with the amount of plastic the UK throws away, is set to increase by over a million tonnes by 2030.

Kids Against Plastic, aim to increase awareness about the negative impact single-use plastic is having on the environment, through learning and action. Supported by a book, written by founders Amy and Ella Meek their Be Plastic Clever initiative teaches young activists, and us all, about the dangers of plastic pollution and climate change with Plastic Clever help sheets for schools, families, individuals, businesses, cafes, guides and scout groups, and festivals. Geovation will be using these for our own plastic free return to the Geovation Hub.

Sustainable land management

Part of creating a regenerative and sustainable bio-economy is the sustainable management of the land. “Land is a finite resource that is fundamental to sustaining all life on Earth… If we hope to have a sustainable future, it is vital – now more than ever – that collectively we make the right land use decisions” says Tim Hopkin, founder of thelandapp. This user-friendly digital platform that helps you manage all your land management data, projects and teams from a single place saving time, reducing risk, improving accuracy and delivering better outcomes.

Common to all these start-ups is bringing purpose, passion, people, data and often geospatial technology together to generate positive impact, so that we see a better place for all of us on planet earth!

And that’s what drives us at Geovation too!