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Impossible Foods Partners With Burger King to Debut a Meat-Free Whopper

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Silicon Valley-based Impossible Foods started garnering attention when it announced its signature product, a plant-based, meatless burger. Now, after receiving over $387 million in funding and working with a variety of fine dining establishments, Impossible Foods announced its partnership with Burger King on a meatless whopper.

The Impossible Whopper really isn’t really too different from the traditional Whopper though. Featuring the same bun, cheese, and condiments, the only difference is the plant-based patty. Now, many consumers would fear the taste-difference when it comes to trying plant-based “meat” products, but CNET journalist Brian Cooley’s behind-the-scenes experience seems to suggest otherwise.

Having the opportunity to tour the Impossible Foods headquarters and taste some of the whoppers being delivered to Burger King, Cooley says that “Nothing gives away the fact that this Whopper contains a different main ingredient.” This is fascinating, but no surprise. A company with a founder like Stanford Professor Patrick Brown is surely to be highly science and research-driven.

And get this.

According to The Guardian, emissions that come from livestock make up roughly 15% of total emissions. This makes Impossible Whopper seems to be a highly sustainable meat alternative.

And at a price point of just $1 more than a traditional Whopper, the Impossible Whopper is easily affordable for the typical consumer. Altogether, Impossible Foods, like Tesla, is a company that seeks to disrupt a huge industry with a sustainable solution.

Conclusions about Impossible Foods

It’s fairly early to determine whether or not a plant-based meat alternative will be able to truly be adopted by the general public. But what is undeniable is its highly environmentally-conscious mission and its significant traction, having raised over $387 million in funding from various big-name investors.

Coupled with having piloted with White Castle and other restaurants, and now Burger King, Impossible Foods seems to have great potential.

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Climate-Smart Farming Shows Promising Results

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Climate change has devastated the livelihoods of millions of farmers in the developing world. As frequent droughts threaten countries’ food security, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has recommended farmers undertake climate-smart farming initiatives. Climate-smart farming techniques include zero-till farming, surface seeding, laser land leveling, and organic crops usage. While the literature on the efficiency of climate-smart farming is sparse, several countries have shown promising results.

Success in Vietnam

Researchers from Ritsumeikan University found that climate-smart farming adaptations actually improved rice yields in Vietnam. The study looked at the technical efficiency of 352 farmers in the Mekong Delta, 71% of which practiced climate-smart farming. CSA pilot programs in the Mekong Delta provided local farmers with different rice varieties, sustainable fertilizers, and knowledge on new eco-friendly farming techniques.

While farmers often experience trade-offs in production when implementing sustainable farming techniques, climate-smart farmers in the Mekong Delta saw 13-14% increased efficiency. The authors defined technical efficiency to measure how competitive farmers were compared to peers.

Improving outcomes for women in Nepal

Over the past few decades, much of Nepal has experienced a cultural shift. As more men have moved to find migrant work, women have taken on huge labor burdens in agriculture. Therefore, improving agricultural efficiency is important for reducing poverty and labor inequality for women. Researchers from the Nepal Development Research Institute found that climate-smart farming reduced labor hours for Nepalese women.

Techniques like surface sowing and new technologies greatly reduced the number of labor hours women had to spend in the fields. Researchers hope that this reduced labor burden will allow women to have more time for education, other employment, and household decisions. Thus, climate-smart farming can be a surprisingly important tool for improving gender equality.

Growth potential in Africa

Many parts of Southern and Eastern Africa suffer from frequent droughts. Food production is also mostly supplied by small-scale farmers who are often not equipped to deal with extreme weather. Luckily, researchers, investors, and organizations have taken notice of the need for climate smart farming in Sub Saharan Africa. Over the next few years over $500 million will be invested in climate-smart farming programs in Sub Saharan Africa.

Kenya livestock insurance program

The Kenya Livestock Insurance Program (KLIP) was a unique climate-smart agriculture case since it dealt with livestock rather than crop yields. The Kenyan government partnered with the private sector to use satellites to monitor vegetation in pastures.

Based on vegetation levels, the government issued payouts to help farmers keep their livestock alive during droughts. As of 2019, the program covers over 18,000 farmers. Programs similar to the KLIP can be implemented across the world, but adoption is still low.

Further expansion

While climate-smart agriculture has shown promising results, there are still barriers to adoption. Researchers at the World Agroforestry Center reviewed about 150 papers on climate-smart agriculture. Based on said papers. They argue a lack of research on the economic results of climate-smart agriculture deters would-be investors.

Improving research on climate-smart agriculture’s effects on output and efficiency is key to accelerating the adoption of climate-smart agriculture.

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Adidas Launches The First Fully Recyclable Running Shoe

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Adidas is known for being an innovator in the shoe business. After all, it’s the company behind Kanye’s Yeezy’s and the NMDs. But yesterday, Adidas launched a new shoe, the Futurecraft Loop, and it’s not just any other running shoe.

It’s the first 100% recyclable running shoe.

The Convention

Most shoes are made of some 15-20 different components, many of which are plastic, according to Vox. This is generally a pretty critical problem because these shoes would need to be broken apart into components that are recyclable, which usually doesn’t happen.

Due to this strenuous recycling process, it’s no surprise that 91% of plastic is not recycled, according to National Geographic. To put it into perspective, some 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced since the 1950s.

That’s a lot of plastic, and conventional shoes are increasing this production substantially.

The Futurecraft Loop

The Futurecraft Loop is made from 100% Thermoplastic Polyurethane, which has many known recycling processes. Its design is also quite sleek, just as an added bonus.

adidas recyclable shoe
Adidas’s New Shoe (From https://www.adidas.com/us/futurecraft)

Adidas’s vision is to build a world where “plastic products are never thrown away but are given back”. It’s undoubtedly an ambitious goal, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Adidas continue to make a shift towards sustainability in its products to come.

The Shoe Recycling Process

Adidas advertises a relatively straightforward shoe recycling process.

  1. Clean: Shoes get dirty. They need to be cleaned.
  2. Grind: Break the shoes down.
  3. Melt: Melt them.
  4. Form: Reform them into usable stuff again.

Conclusions

As various influential companies make strides towards environmental sustainability, others are starting to follow suit. And from Adidas’s efforts, it’s clear that sustainability is far from just being a trend among tech companies.

It would certainly be nice to see companies like Nike make a similar stride. The growing amount of plastic waste is a definite problem and it’s really up to the companies that use a lot of plastic in their products to fix the problem.

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Microsoft Announces New Initiatives Against Climate Change

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Microsoft has long been an environmentally-conscious company. In fact, it declared itself a carbon-neutral company as early as 2012.

Yesterday, Microsoft announced four new initiatives that would help it become a more sustainable company. These initiatives range from the more fundamental steps,

Building sustainable campuses and data centers.

To begin, Microsoft is looking to build 17 more buildings that won’t run on fossil fuels and will be instead run on 100% carbon-free electricity. Additionally, Microsoft hopes to decrease carbon levels associated with construction by some 15%.

Augmenting its efforts to build more sustainable campuses, Microsoft is looking to power its data centers with renewable energy as much as possible.

Taking More Data-Driven Approaches To Research

In 2017, Microsoft launched AI for Earth, an initiative that allows people working on sustainability issues to gain deeper, more numerically-backed insights into how the environment is changing.

Microsoft is also hosting large governmental datasets on its cloud-computing platform, Azure. These datasets contain satellite imagery, among other insights, and with Microsofts APIs, can be analyzed.

Besides the government, Microsoft also seems to be working with the people. Having given out some 230 grants to people tackling climate change, Microsoft is inspiring everyone to go out and tackle these problems.

Helping Its Customers Be More Sustainable

Aside from becoming a more sustainable company itself, Microsoft is also helping its clients become more environmentally-friendly. For instance, it’s helping Ecolab improve its water conservation efforts with Azure, IoT, and AI.

On a smaller scale, it’s also working with startup Silvia Terra. With AI for Earth, Microsoft has been able to keep a “national inventory of forests“.

The scope of Azure’s applications seems endless.

Advocating for Policy Change

Microsoft has also joined the Climate Leadership Council, a policy institute composed of business leaders, economists, and environmental leaders. As leaders in the public and private sector continue to find ways to collaborate towards solving problems in sustainability.

Conclusions

Microsoft is joining companies like Apple, Tesla, and Nespresso in becoming more environmentally sustainable. But like any other initiative, it’ll be imperative to see if the results are what Microsoft expect.

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