The time of sustainability being merely a buzzword is long gone. Sustainability is now a pivotal area for corporate innovation leaders across nearly every industry. While all corporations are undoubtedly aware of this fact, there are varying levels of progress toward sustainability goals – some are making real sustainability changes, some are pursuing the wrong innovations with the right intentions, and some are merely greenwashing their activities to mollify consumers for the time being.
It’s not difficult to see how some innovation leaders have found themselves following the wrong path or not maximizing their sustainability efforts – there is so much data, information, and innovation that it can be excessively difficult to pinpoint the right areas of focus. That is where the Lux Sustainable Innovation Model comes in.
The Lux Sustainable Innovation Model shows where corporate innovation leaders need to focus. It presents the three major pillars of technology innovation that corporate leaders need to have front and center as part of their strategies and roadmaps:
Enabling the elimination and remediation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
Climate change is a vital issue, but the cleantech boom and bust a decade ago is a cautionary tale about the challenges of developing new solutions in multitrillion-dollar industries like energy and manufacturing with nearly a century of established infrastructure and business operations. However, the drivers mentioned above make it evident that there is an urgency to solve the emissions problem that did not exist before. Taking a pragmatic approach to climate tech means aiming at five key categories directly aligned with the source of GHG emissions – industry, agriculture, buildings, transportation, and energy production – and solutions with the potential to abate these emissions economically. Key technologies to cut emissions include renewable energy production, energy storage, vehicle electrification, and carbon capture, utilization, and storage.
Enabling the elimination and remediation of waste as well as the regeneration of natural systems
In today’s linear economy, profits depend on converting natural resources into physical products, often depleting those resources faster than they can be replenished and spreading waste in the environment. The circular economy aims to upend this current make-take-dispose model by designing out waste, keeping materials and products in use for longer, and regenerating natural systems – and efforts to build one have increased in recent years as consumers and policymakers have become more informed. For example, in 2016, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy report highlighted the issue of ocean plastics. In 2018, China’s National Sword policy, rejecting plastic waste imports, caused a breakdown in global recycling, forcing governments worldwide to act and put pressure on corporations. Since then, proliferating pledges from consumer brands and further policy developments have continued to press the issue. Relevant technologies include plastic recycling, sustainable packaging materials, and digital tools for sustainable design.
Future Consumer Tech
Enabling nutrition and wellness for the world’s population
The needs of future consumers will surpass the solutions and infrastructure currently in place to serve them. By 2030, the global population is projected to increase by an additional half-billion people, with many getting wealthier and looking for more and higher-quality consumer products. Feeding the growing population with nourishing food means balancing sustainable sourcing strategies with availability and consumer preferences across the agrifood value chain. What’s more, healthcare is becoming decentralized with the advent of technologies like wearables, telehealth, and digital therapeutics that democratize healthcare and put the power of monitoring and treatment in the consumer’s hands. Agtech like vertical farming, along with novel ingredients, aims to meet sustainability goals around availability and nutrition. At the same time, digital health technologies provide access to wellness for more of the population.
Download Lux’s new whitepaper “Getting Your Innovation Team to Deliver on Sustainability” to learn more about the Lux Sustainable Innovation Model and other insights on the sustainability landscape.