Written by Andrew Seale
If the past decade has been defined by disruptive startups looking at the way we live and finding ways to live better, the future belongs to innovators that question the impact of our way of living. Consider this: by 2030, Canada hopes to effectively half its greenhouse gas emissions, an aggressive target.
So how do we build this low-carbon economy?
We get there by reducing meals thrown out by restaurants and turning food waste into plastics, by extending the lifecycle of fashion through clothing libraries and using big data to maintain vehicles before they become a problem. We get there through innovative startups like the ones that are a part of Centre for Social Innovation’s Climate Ventures, a cross-sector incubator for climate entrepreneurs, innovators, and leaders.
Take Genecis for example, which is using cutting edge science and synthetic biology to tackle the $1 trillion in food waste generated across the globe annually by turning granules harvested from bacteria into pellets for bioplastics manufacturing.
“(There are) a lot of valuable carbons in food waste that could be turned into many different materials,” says founder Luna Yu. And Toronto seemed like a perfect place to build her startup. “It's a huge hub of cutting edge technologies and expertise.”
Feedback, a digital marketplace for surplus meals from some of Toronto’s favourite restaurants, is tackling the problem before the food even gets to the landfill.
“When you start to dive into the numbers surrounding food waste, it becomes obvious really quickly that food waste is a huge contributor to CO2 emissions and climate change at every level,” says co-founder Josh Walters.
With Feedback, restaurants are incentivized to make revenue on food that would otherwise be wasted by offering it up on the marketplace for a reduced price.
Pitstop is targeting emissions from another angle. The brainchild of Shiva Bhardwaj, Pitstop is using big data garnered from vehicle diagnostics across fleets to predict and improve maintenance and upkeep.
“If we look at our signature on the Paris climate agreement, we're saying by 2030 we're going to reduce GHG by 30 per cent in Canada,” says Bhardwaj pointing out that combustion engines are already a major contributor to GHGs. He says ensuring the vehicles on the road are “operating as efficiently as possible,” could play a huge role in reaching those goals.
Other startups, like Freshrents, which has developed an ingenious library system where members get access to an entire wardrobe for $30 a month, effectively reducing textile waste; and UnWrapIt, a platform for giving gifts and experiences in a uniquely digital way, embrace the low-carbon economy by reinventing the facets that make up our day-to-day life like giving gifts and getting dressed.
Peter Deitz, a serial social entrepreneur and founder of UnWrapIt says he moved to Toronto from Montreal, specifically for the city’s growing social innovation clout. “The results for the city will speak for themselves, that is ultimately how Silicon Valley built its reputation,” he says. “Toronto is on that trajectory for both tech and social purpose.”
StartUP HERE Toronto Spotlight On Climate Ventures:
Photo Credit: Cameron Bartlett (www.snappedbycam.com)