All around the globe, companies, cities and individuals are continuously developing solutions for tomorrow. Time after time, innovation keeps on proving itself to be one of the answers to these sustainability challenges.
Baltics are no exception. With Baltic Sustainability Awards, we strive to bring the spotlight to enterprise and organization achievements in sustainability innovation, highlight the region's potential and encourage knowledge sharing.
To give you inspiration, hope and understanding, we've summarized five exciting sustainability innovation areas we've noticed our past winners, finalists and others tirelessly working on.
1. Latvian innovation for Vietnamese rice fields
Sometimes innovation goes way beyond the borders. This is the case with a Latvian non-profit research organization Institute for Environmental Solutions, which has developed a solution that monitors the rice fields in Vietnam's most vital rice fields, producing rice for global consumption. The "alternate wetting-drying" (AWD) technique helps farmers to regulate the water supply by monitoring the moisture of the rice fields, so the farmers know when to increase and lower water levels, allowing them to save resources. This tool will enable farmers to reduce methane emissions by 50% and water use by 30%. Referring to the classic saying about thinking global and acting local – using Sentinel satellite data, the rice fields can be monitored completely remotely. Who would have thought that the biggest rice fields could be monitored from Latvia?
2. Mobility as a Service
Mobility as a Service, or MaaS for short, is named to be the future of transportation. The concept of Maas implies that transportation solutions are shifting to become more on-demand service oriented, and more customized to customers' needs. The rising population of urban areas poses significant challenges to transport infrastructure and the environment. Lithuanian startup Trafi, one of the winners at the Baltic Sustainability Awards 2021, aims to encourage its users to use more shared mobility systems. Their platform plans the trip showing the variety of transportation and providing connected mobility solutions for people, cities and companies. Technology developed by Trafi is used by major cities such as Berlin, Munich, Jakarta, and Vilnius. Another past winner from Lithuania, Vejo projektai, develops, designs and manufactures DANCER electric city buses and presents a unique Dancer Mobility service package that offers transport operators fully charged and ready buses when they are needed. So next time you are driving a scooter, think about how you are a part of future mobility.
3. Digitalization as the driver for sustainability
Positive impact does not always require a change of essential business processes; sometimes, it is in simple everyday things. Digital transformation goes hand in hand with sustainable development providing new opportunities to reinvent how we work. One such solution is e-signature. It has become more and more popular globally, benefiting the environment and resulting in time and cost savings. Our own Dokobit provides e-signature-based SaaS (Software as a service) solutions for authentication, signing and validation processes, allowing many global enterprises to become more effective and environmentally friendly. Dokobit covers different needs, offering an all-in-one ready-to-use cloud solution for signing and collecting e-signatures and a wide range of API solutions with developer-friendly integrations. Many global businesses have already been using these solutions, with many more to come. Electronic document circulation saves paper, reduces the need for business trips just to sign documents and does not require physical archiving. Also, such small changes may work as the first step toward the company's sustainability journey.
4. Future of food
With the growing pressures on the food industry, both regarding the availability of raw materials and the packaging, it is more important to find innovative solutions. For many years there has not been any innovation in how the meat is grown, while this sector is responsible for 15% of all greenhouse emissions. It has been long discussed that meat could be grown in labs, and companies like Gelatex are making this science fiction into reality. An Estonian startup Gelatex makes high-performance 3D scaffolds and microcarriers for scalable cultured meat mass production. The scaffold is produced from high-quality edible and plant-based polymers and supports cell adhesion and differentiation. Such technologies could ensure meat production for the growing demands while reducing the industry's negative effect on the planet.
At the same time, many regulations are coming out to regulate and reduce the amount of plastic packaging, making producers rethink how the food is packed. Latvian business Plukt is the first company that serves Northern European herbal teas in biodegradable, plant-based tea bags made of corn starch that is plastic-free, GMO-free, and compostable within 30-60 days. This means that packaging could become more compostable in the near future, serving as the beginning for something new, bringing to life the circularity idea.
5. One man's waste is another man's treasure.
One of the critical challenges for the modern world is figuring out what to do with all the waste people have produced to reuse the resources most effectively. Lately, more innovators are focusing on finding new ways to recycle materials to be used again in another form or for another purpose. Latvian startup Terrawaste has developed innovative technology based on hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL), which in simpler terms works like a pressure cooker. This technology allows the transformation of organic and inorganic waste into bio-liquid under the influence of high pressure and temperature. Through this transformation, mixed waste is recycled and turned into bio-crude oil, high-value chemicals and organic raw materials that can be used for further processing to produce valuable and circular products. With such technologies developing, we could expect more exciting solutions for the material reuse.
These are just some of the inspiring sustainability innovation solutions coming from the Baltics! If you feel like your work can also inspire or educate others, make sure to apply for Baltic Sustainability Awards 2022! Apply in "Impact" subcategories "Renewable energy", "Sustainable resources", "Supply chain", "Sustainable cities & Mobility", and "Social initiatives". To showcase the growing role of innovation in sustainability, enterprises and startups are also welcome to submit their CleanTech solutions in the "Innovation" category. Finally, the "Changemakers" category will celebrate individuals that have contributed to inspiring and educating society about sustainable practices.
Baltic Sustainability Awards are hosted by Helve together with founding partner Rimi Baltic. The initiative is supported by strategic methodology partner EY Baltic, partners Dokobit, and Baltic Block, and informative partners Clear Chanel and Delfi. Find out more about the Baltic Sustainability Awards at www.balticsustainabilityawards.eu.