Sustainable Innovation for Business and the Planet

By Alexandre
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The world’s population is expected to reach 9.7 billion people in 2050. There are already 7.3 billion of us today. This population is also becoming more and more urbanized.

With an increasing population comes ever greater demand for the planet’s finite resources, such as minerals, water, agriculture, forestry, and oil and gas. Along with growing appetite for fuel, food, and inputs into the products we depend on in our daily lives, there is of course also a price to pay – the impact on the environment.

How can we best manage the limited resources we have while ensuring we are being respectful of the most precious thing we have – the home all 7.3 billion of us share? Will increased competition lead to clashes over water resources, or can we find a way to manage them more effectively? Is it inevitable that we turn to outer space to find minerals when we have exhausted them here? Some predictions have commodities such as copper, vital in many consumer goods, expected to be in production decline in less than 20 years.

At the same time questions are being asked the future of Natural Resources and humanity globally, communities are demanding greater social responsibility from the enterprises that operate projects locally. Communities are seeking better environmental management and more insight into how a project will benefit the local citizens over the course of its life.

Businesses are asking the questions about how they can respond to increasing social license obligations and maintain profitability at a time when commodity prices are variable and unpredictable.

Through the world of 3DEXPERIENCE, it is possible to bring all stakeholders together in the virtual world. With this, natural resources projects and their impact on the environment and communities can be simulated and communicated clearly.

The virtual world of collaboration and visualization will bring with it social innovation, uncovering new ways of managing natural resources, improving the efficiency of how they are recovered. This will result in a win-win for people and business as fuel consumption and emissions are lowered, decreasing the impact on the environment and lowering operating costs.

In parts of the world where water is scarce, it would be possible to bring together scientists from anywhere in the world, along with planners, and government officials in the virtual world to find ways of using a limited water supply more efficiently. They could test ideas such as the utilization of alternative types of crops, which were dependent on less water.

The time to start thinking differently about how we manage natural resources is now, not 2050. Populations are growing rapidly, putting pressure on natural resources in even the richest countries. The good news is, many are starting to have conversations now.

Follow Dassault Systèmes Natural Resources Industry on Twitter: @3DSNR

On the web: 3DS.com/natural-resources/

Sustainability Series blog post: Packing Things Up

By Christina
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The Great Pacific Garbage Patch” might sound like a horror story but, unfortunately, it is very real:  a giant collection of marine debris in the waters between North America and Japan that is primarily made up of plastic.  In addition to polluting ocean waters, this collection of bags, caps, bottles and cups is detrimental to marine life, which mistakes plastic items for food and consumes them, only to die from complications.  According to a study published in the journal Science in February 2015, 8 million tons of plastic packaging are deposited into oceans annually.

In order to help solve this problem, many companies are now turning to new biomaterials, smarter manufacturing methods and other end-of-life alternatives to reduce the environmental impact of their plastic packaging throughout its lifecycle.

A number of multi-national food and beverage brands and packaging manufacturers have launched or integrated bioplastic products into their portfolios. Bioplastics are derived from renewable biomass sources including vegetable fats, corn starch and agricultural byproducts.  A study by European Bioplastics predicts that bioplastics production capacity will increase by 400 percent, from 1.6 million tons in 2013 to around 6.7 million tons by 2018.

Packaging companies are also using new manufacturing techniques to optimize packaging design and reduce their use of virgin materials. For example, Amcor used 3D virtual design, finite element analysis, collaborative innovation and workflow management to remove more than 12,000 tons of plastic resin from its bottles.  MWV used lightweighting techniques to remove 18 percent of the plastic from medication packets made for a superstore.

IFWE Dassault Systèmes BrandingCompanies are also taking into account how the raw materials are sourced, transported, manufactured and disposed of.  A cradle-to-cradle (C2C) approach, designed to mimic natural processes, ensures that products contain materials that can be reused or recovered at their highest possible value multiple times after their first use.

Other recent innovations have included edible containers and biodegradable coffee cups that are embedded with seeds and can be buried after use.  In the U.S. alone, coffee “to go” is a daily staple, with an estimated 6 million cups of coffee sold in shops each day—think of the possibilities!KFC image (Image credit KFC via The New York Times)

For more details on how the CPGR industry is transforming packaging, read the full COMPASS article “Responsible packaging:  Producing reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging is a key goal for many companies”.

Sustainability Series Op-ed: The Food Tech Revolution

By Christina
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The food industry is the largest economy in the world, its market size around €2 trillion in 2015.  Cereals are the planet’s primary food source, fish provide three billion people with one-fifth of their animal protein intake, and consumption of dairy and meat is rising.

The world’s population is expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050, generating concerns about food supplies as more people will require additional resources. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that the food supply necessary to accommodate this population must increase by 60 percent.  This means, among other estimates, a 19 percent increase in agricultural water consumption, more than a billion tons of cereals in addition to existing supplies, and increased livestock production—already the largest user of agricultural land.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem.  However, business and technology are playing a role in helping to alleviate the issue, one small bite at a time.

Focus on waste

As the world looks to solutions that will alleviate stresses on the planet’s food resources, focus is being placed on food waste, estimated at 1.3 billion tons or a cost of $750 billion each year (excluding fish and seafood).

Consumers, grocery stores and restaurants all contribute to food waste.  Expiration dates that serve more as guidelines than as “laws to live by” mean that food is often discarded while still edible.  More food is purchased than is needed or supersized packaging delivers more food than would have been desired in the first place.  Much of this food waste and its packaging rests in landfills or pollutes the ocean.

The food tech revolution

Plug the computerTechnological advances have transformed industry over the past few decades, from airplane design to the size of our telephones.  Such developments have impacted the way in which we live.  Can technology help solve the world’s eventual food resources challenges?  Can the fusion of technology and food start a “food tech” revolution?

For many, we are already there.  Creative initiatives are now helping to avoid, reduce, repurpose or recycle food waste and make the food industry more sustainable.

A recent movement in France has inspired consumers to purchase malformed – yet perfectly edible—fruits and vegetables at a discounted price.  “Les Gueules Cassées” (literally “Disfigured Faces” and a play-on-words of the inversed expression “casse gueule” which means risky or dangerous) is an association of French food producers whose business model has now expanded from fruits and vegetables to include certain cheeses and cereals under this label.

LiquiGlide is a new, non-stick coating that can be used on the inside of a bottle, so that food never gets stuck inside (apparently the idea was born from research to solve industrial challenges like preventing ice formation on the wings of aircraft).  A German startup, Qmilk, is using sour milk to manufacture textiles.  Several online service providers deliver the exact amount of ingredients needed to make a meal, saving potential food waste and costs.

These are just a few examples, and the venture capital world is taking note.  According to Dow Jones Venture Source, approximately $1.1 billion was invested in food- and beverage-related startups in the U.S. in the first half of 2014.  Although these startups’ activities vary wildly—from food delivery to e-commerce with local farms—the basic message is still there: the investors who traditionally have been behind major shifts in technology and healthcare are now looking at food.

Software’s role in the food tech revolution

Software also has the potential to play a profound role in this revolution by taking it a step further:  focusing on sustainability before food even hits the marketplace.

Solutions can help make industries involved in food production or packaging more environmentally compliant by reducing their use of natural resources or improving their processes.  This has a “pay it forward” effect, reducing waste of water, air, plants and soil.

Orange juice fabrication processConsumer goods packaging companies are using new manufacturing techniques such as “lightweighting” to optimize plastic packaging design, reduce their use of virgin materials and lessen the environmental impact of their plastic packaging throughout its lifecycle. This involves 3D virtual design, finite element analysis, collaborative innovation and workflow management.

Industrial equipment manufacturers are focusing on green agricultural machines that help effectively use water and energy resources for a greateroutput with less input, such as energy or fertilizer.  This can be achieved through collaborative design processes that link mechanical, electrical and hydraulics engineers in a digital environment, before any prototype is made.  Also, stored and managed design data for a machine can be accessed to upgrade equipment and increase its lifecycle.

Drones are being explored for potential applications in farming such as providing data on field irrigation or crop health that help farmers make informed decisions.  High-tech designers and engineers can create complex 3D shapes using cloud-based design tools and social collaboration to enhance a drone’s structure, weight, stability, size, maneuverability and power.

These are just a few examples of software’s potential for sustainability.  In tandem with initiatives to reduce food waste once in the marketplace, technology in general, by attacking the entire food waste lifecycle, has the potential to create a digital disruption in the world’s largest industry.



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