Need to Know
28 : 10 : 20

Air Co vodka turns its hand to renewable rocket fuel, diamonds made from sequestered CO2, and Britons change their mind about inter-Covid travel.

Plastic homes as a solution to global waste

Recycled Plastic Homes by Othalo and Julien de Smedt, Norway

Norway – Othalo is a start-up seeking to build affordable homes, hospitals and schools across Sub-Saharan Africa using recycled plastic waste.

Created to address the region’s lack of housing – according to the company, 360m homes will be required in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2050 – and the global plastic waste crisis, Othalo aims to position plastic as a positive, pliable and resilient material that can be used to create new communities, shelters and storage solutions.

Using millions of tons of plastic trash, its vibrant, modular buildings are designed by architect Julien de Smedt and are part of a collaboration with UN-Habitat to build safe and sustainable cities for all. Each 60-square-metre house recycles eight tonnes of plastic waste, with the company forecasting that with today's rate of plastic waste, more than one billion houses could be built.

In the past decade, plastic has become a pariah among materials, but an increasing number of creatives and developers are working to reposition plastic for its positive, enduring traits.

Air Co’s renewable rocket fuel is made from CO2

Air Co, US Air Co, US
Air Co, US Air Co, US

New York – The makers of the world’s first carbon-negative vodka have invented a way to create renewable fuel from carbon dioxide.

Air Co’s renewable fuel aims to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of the spaceflight industry and make space exploration more sustainable. To protect the environment from one of the most abundant greenhouse gases, Air Co has produced a more sustainable propellant for rocket engines by applying its award-winning carbon conversion technology to instellar travel.

Until now, rocket engines have used liquid methane made from natural gas – an unsustainable, non-renewable fossil fuel. For every spacecraft launch that uses Air Co’s CO2 fuel, it would mitigate 715 tons of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere. The technology could even be used to make fuel on Mars for a return trip to Earth.

Similarly blurring the boundaries between innovation, sustainability and natural resources in transport, McDonald’s recently partnered with Ford to turn coffee waste into car parts.

Aether creates diamonds from urban pollution

US and Switzerland – Aether is working to disrupt the lab-grown diamond sector by creating the world’s first carbon-negative diamonds.

Using carbon sequestration technology, the process involves capturing carbon dioxide on a rooftop in Zurich before synthesising this into hydrocarbon raw material which, when placed inside reactors, can grow into crystalline diamond material. Aether then facets and polishes each jewel to be sold, looking to use design as well as the diamonds’ sustainable provenance to appeal to consumers.

‘We want to make sure that this is something that you’d buy on its face, just because of the way it looks, because of the way it makes you feel,’ explains Ryan Shearman, CEO of Aether. 'The environmental element to this is really kind of the icing on the cake, because at the end of the day, most Americans – most people in general – don’t know their carbon footprint,' he adds.

As consumers become more interested in the provenance of luxury goods, it’s time for luxury brands to consider the appeal and marketing of lab-grown diamonds.

Carbon-negative diamond by Aether

Stat: Britons change their mind about inter-Covid travel

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A recent survey by YouGov reveals how British attitudes towards travelling overseas have evolved during the inter-Covid period.

According to the report, only 11% of Britons plan to travel abroad in the next six months – down from 17% at the start of July 2020. Of note, one in six 18–24 year olds (16%) are still planning to travel internationally, compared with just 8% of those aged 65 and older, who are perhaps more conscious of their health at this time.

The socio-economic background further affects attitudes to travel, with 14% of ABC1 Britons – those who identify as professionals and are able to shelter or work from home – booking international holidays, compared with just 8% of C2DEs, who are typically employed in manual roles.

For the travel sector, such changing attitudes provide an insight into marketing during this time, especially for those seeking staycations or trips closer to home. Explore how to inspire local travellers during Covid-19 with our Neighbourhood Tourism Market.

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