Please see below recent regeneration-related change.
- Currently, much of the world is very dependent on enormous monocrop farms that artificially fertilise the land, but this farming approach is unsustainable due to the damage it is causing to soil. According to NGO Kiss The Ground, within 50 years there may not be enough soil left to feed the world. Momentum is therefore building to finance a transition to regenerative agriculture - which focuses on improving the health of soil so that it can produce more food and nutrition, store more carbon and increase biodiversity.
- Some 60% of the material used to make clothing is plastic, releasing around half a million tons of plastic microfibres into the ocean each year, according to the UN. To ease this environmental burden, designers and manufacturers are increasingly turning to plant-based solutions, making clothing out of algae, pineapple skins and mushrooms, among other novel ingredients. Plant-based fabrics are especially appealing as leather alternatives, considering the environmental impact of livestock farming. "Fashion designers and retailers will increasingly see faux leather as a quick win in greening their credentials," according to sustainability expert Dr Wayne Visser.
- Driven by customers, activist investors, governments, and their own values, companies are increasingly looking to make a more positive impact on the environment by adopting a sustainability focus, including focusing on the emerging bio-economy, which focuses on using biological (non-fossil) resources, waste streams, and manufacturing by-products, often combined with a circular, whole-life-cycle product perspective. This movement is enabled by new materials technologies and processes that replace fossil-based ingredients with bio-based alternatives from the agriculture, forestry, and marine industries.
- Supermarkets usually have bread left over at the end of the day. In Belgium, organic retailer Bio-Planet is helping save those loaves from waste streams by rerouting them to a local mushroom farmer. ECLO picks up bread from Bio-Planet stores and mixes it with sawdust to create a growing medium. That substrate is packed into bags and pasteurised, after which mycelium is added and mushrooms start growing. After four to twelve weeks, ECLO harvests organic eryngii and nameko mushrooms, which are then sold at all of Bio-Planet's stores. The process also uses brewing remnants from two breweries in Brussels. In 2021, 61% of the grower's mushroom substrates included 'waste' material.
- Researchers discovered that mycelium skins could replace the hard-to-recycle plastic substrate materials found in computer chips, potentially reducing the huge volume of e-waste.
- The regenerative agriculture movement aims to restore natural ecosystems that have been depleted by traditional farming methods and, ultimately, to produce food in a more sustainable way. Creating such buffer zones, such as hay meadows around a field, reduces its acreage, but boosts its biodiversity and improves the quality of the underlying soil. A smaller field might mean less crop, but with fewer input costs and a small uptick in yields.
- Spanish scientists claimed worm saliva could break down plastics. The researchers discovered that chemicals in the saliva of the wax worm can break down polyethylene, the world’s most used plastic and maintained that just one hour of exposure can cause degradation that typically takes several years to occur.
- Regenerative agriculture focuses on improving soil health, improving water quality, increasing biodiversity, and enhancing ecosystem services, including carbon capture and sequestration. Although the term ‘regenerative agriculture’ might be defined differently by different groups, it is helpful to contrast it with conventional agricultural systems - which produce yield through large amounts of often fossil-fuel-dependent external input and at a great cost to soil health, water quality, and both below- and above-ground biodiversity, explained Forum for the Future.
- The founder of an investment ban said that claims to sustainability already put companies behind the curve. To “sustain” suggests we benchmark where we are and keep things at that level, but solving the planet’s real and pressing issues won’t be achieved by sustaining anything. Rather, it requires a whole new approach, driven by investment into “regenerative,” rather than sustainable, businesses, such as in the agriculture industry.
- Liam Heneghan, is professor of environmental science and studies at DePaul University in Chicago, has argued in favour of "restoration ecology": where ecosystems have been degraded because of human activity - including an overexploitation of useful species, invasion by exotic pests, erosion of soils, pollution from excessive nutrients, overgrazing by animals, and so on - restoration promises to reverse the damage and give these systems new life. Humans’ dubious achievement is to have greatly accelerated the wreckage of nature, thereby making what seemed so dependably durable tragically transient. Surely, believes Heneghan, we deserve a science and practice of nature conservation commensurate with the scale of the problem
- Until now, most dead solar panels just got shredded or thrown into a landfill. The economics didn't come out in recycling’s favour. The value one could generate from a salvaged panel hadn’t been enough to make up for the cost of transporting and recycling it. However, that’s on track to change, according to analysis by research firm Rystad Energy, which forecast that expects the value of recyclable materials from solar panels to grow exponentially over the next several years, to $2.7 billion in 2030 from just $170 million this year..
- Outdoor brand Patagonia has long offered repairs. Its repair centre in Nevada was the largest apparel-mending facility in the US, while a network of fixers in Europe extend the life of around 1,000 garments every month. In 2022 Patagonia also opened a mending location in Amsterdam: the United Repair Center. What was novel about this hub was the 'united' part - in addition to Patagonia, other brands were encouraged to join in, making it easier for them to offer repair services to their own customers. The centre also launched a course to train 300 students as certified textile repair technicians over the next few years, intending to grow its capacity to mend up to 300.000 garments annually.
- Further reading:
- Embedded within our built environment is a significant amount of embodied carbon. How we reduce these emissions, while simultaneously honouring the development needs of our cities and countries, depends on he development of the circular economy, which is fundamentally about recovering lost value and resources through systems that are regenerative by design.
- The RSA, which has been at the forefront of social impact for over 260 years, from championing early smokeless combustion technology to hosting the influential Food, Farming and Countryside Commission, argued that the future doesn’t just happen, it’s up to us to create it. As we face the challenges of climate change, inequality and environmental degradation, we know to simply sustain is not enough and we should aim for a world where people and communities harness their potential to be sources of health and regeneration for all life on earth.
- A wildflower that was thought to be extinct in Ecuador has been spotted for the first time in 40 years. The flower, Gasteranthus extincus, was believed to have been eradicated as a result of the government’s aggressive deforestation efforts, which partly aim to create more space for farming.
- Austrian residents now only pay half of the costs for getting electronic devices repaired. Reparaturbonus is a scheme introduced by the Ministry of Climate Action and Energy. It subsidises repair costs for everything from tea kettles to washing machines and laptops to e-bikes - half of the total expenses, up to 200 € device. People can request a voucher online and redeem it with a participating repair service provider, who then claims 50% of the total costs directly from the government. To avoid stockpiling, vouchers are valid for three weeks after they're issued. As soon as someone redeems their first voucher, they can request another.
- There is an abundance of alternative fabrics to be used in fashion, including algae, which could revolutionise how fabric is created. Algae-based fabric creators are also looking to use it as an air purifier. Meanwhile, Mylo and Adidas partnered in 2021 to make the first mushroom leather-based shoe. Lululemon also worked with Mylo to create the first mushroom leather-based yoga mat.
- As we shift to a bio-based rather than fossil-fuel-based economy, seaweed could provide a lot of the compounds we need. Seaweed plantations are beginning to pop up all along Europe’s Atlantic and North Sea coasts.
- While a complete biological replacement tooth might be some ways off, we may in the shorter term see successes in regenerating dental pulp or dentine, as stem-cell driven regenerative dentistry evolves. .
- Transitioning to regenerative agriculture is a massive undertaking that requires shifts in behaviour and investment from all actors connected to the agriculture system – from farming communities to retailers and brands. Harnessing early momentum around regenerative agriculture into meaningful impact requires rapid translation and learning across diverse environments and markets, between scales and regional contexts. While each regenerative farm has a unique soil, climate and culture, there are shared barriers to the transition, from perverse incentives to lack of pathways to market in countries like the US.
- For The Futures Centre, regenerative approaches move beyond the idea of ‘minimising impact’ or doing ‘less bad’ and instead put emphasis on achieving actual positive impact by working in alignment with living systems. This means enhancing the capacity of ecosystems, human communities and people to be healthy, to keep evolving and to fulfil their potential. The rise of regenerative agriculture epitomises this.
- Conservation asks for the protection of an existing ecosystem. Rewilding seeks to bring back and protect a ‘wild’ ecosystem that no longer exists, either in the physical world or in present memory. Rewilding, then, becomes a task of not just species introductions and land management, but also of historical immersion and retelling of narratives.
- Recent examples of regenerative business practices:
- AMP Robotics helps facilities across the globe save and reuse valuable materials that are worth billions of dollars but were traditionally lost to landfills.
- A Forbes article argued that, whereas a sustainable firm seeks merely to reduce its ecological footprint, a regenerative company seeks to increase its socio-ecological handprint—as Harvard professor Greg Norris puts it—by restoring the health of individuals, communities and the planet. In doing so, regenerative businesses can achieve greater financial performance and impact than their sustainability-focused peers.
- According to a study by ReGenFriends nearly 80% US consumers prefer “regenerative” brands to “sustainable” brands (they find the term “sustainable” too passive).