Wouldn’t it be great if someone were to invent a machine capable of extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere? Or a device that could clear up the Earth’s oceans of rubbish? Or perhaps a contraption that could turn litter into sand, quickly and simply?
Well it might shock you to know that all of these now exist. For example, the Cora Ball is a device which imitates coral by absorbing microfibres from the ocean whilst still allowing water to flow. Its inventor, Rachael Miller, believes that the widespread use of the ball would significantly reduce the number of microfibres and plastics ending up in the ocean, and inevitably in our food.
Experts believe that washing a single fleece jacket could shed around 250,000 fibers per wash, many of which will later be consumed fish and later by those of us who eat seafood.
But Rachael’s not the only person using innovation to clean up the ocean. Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski quit their jobs to concentrate their efforts on designing a device that would help clean up the sea. This led them to create the Seabin, a small floating unit with the capacity to catch half a ton of debris per year.
Their aim is “to have pollution-free oceans for our future generations” and although their bins are yet to be adopted worldwide, they are already making a huge impact in many marinas and ports. And that’s not all…
Over in New Zealand, someone had the creative idea of building a machine that can turn empty beer bottles into sand. Glass is already widely recycled of course, but New Zealand would benefit greatly from the sand that this process creates. This is because their beaches are being depleted of sand by construction companies which have led to the country suffering from severe land erosion. Many hope that technological innovations such as the beer-to-sand machine will help to replenish the coastline in the future.
Meanwhile, in Europe, BMW has announced that they plan on building a bicycle ‘superway’ called the Vision E3. This network of over-ground and undercover cycle paths will be open to all two-wheeled vehicles which produce zero emissions and will be climate-controlled, allowing people to cycle to work in a safe and pleasant way, whatever the weather is outside.
Across the pond in Georgia, the USA, the world’s first solar highway has been constructed, named The Ray, after entrepreneur and environmentalist Ray Anderson. The road uses photovoltaic techniques to produce electricity in a renewable way, whilst being driven on like any normal road. In the next few years, new projects are planned to make the Ray highway even more environmentally friendly, efficient and sustainable, such as the construction of road barriers (which are also solar panelled by the way) to reduce noise pollution, as well as the use of drones to better assess road accidents and manage traffic.
It’s clear that now, more than ever, companies are becoming environmentally conscious. These inventions are exciting, but as ever, the extent of their success will depend greatly on the willingness of governments to adapt and modernise their environmental policies – something they’ll need to do quickly if there are keep up with an ever-changing market for environmental technology.