Focus, start, share: how companies can win at innovation for sustainability

    Potential partners could come from surprising places. When working with a consumer goods company on valorising their waste, the use of PA’s Dark Matter AI tool revealed potential byproducts and a host of new partners that might otherwise not have been considered. “We found out all the different ways the waste could be broken down using different technologies and then set up an ecosystem of potential partners who might buy those compounds, creating new revenue streams” says Kim McCann, industrials and manufacturing sustainability expert at PA.

    In helping Milliken and Co, a US-based chemical additives company, to develop a strategy for more sustainable plastics, PA facilitated conversations right across the value chain: oil companies, brand owners, retailers, policy makers, recyclers and waster disposers. As Lancelott explains: “We helped them answer the question of how to respond to customer sentiment around single-use plastics and become part of the solution, which subsequently led to a new strategic partnership between Milliken and PureCycle Technologies, a recycling company.”

    Technology and science innovation will supercharge your efforts

    Many of the answers to sustainability and climate response will lie in technology innovation. So, when it comes to supercharging sustainability efforts, companies need to get their technology “landscaping” right. This means understanding what is out there and tapping into startups, researchers and cutting-edge technology, and then bringing them together to develop the right innovation strategy and portfolio for greater impact.

    “Modelling tools such as Digital Twins, for example, can help to de-risk decisions on which technologies to adopt,” explains McCann. “We are seeing increasing due diligence activity for investments in startups in the green technology space. Our techno-economic models help those companies to get the marriage of technology and business modelling right to capture that investment”.

    Thanks to cutting-edge sensors, it is now possible to monitor sustainability impact at a granular level and in real time. “In agriculture, you can assess the carbon footprint of particular crops, and this information can be used to develop education programmes to address inequality in emerging countries,” Lancelott explains, “while blockchain can help create the transparency needed for your supply chain.”

    In the area of packaging innovation, PA is working with PulPac, a Swedish R&D firm that is developing novel pulp moulding technology to create sustainable packaging, connecting it with brands that need to phase out single-use plastic packaging. Also in the world of plastics replacements there is a massive interest in the use of alginates – with Notpla’s waste free alternative to plastic bottles, and Loliware’s plastic-free drinking straws being great examples.

    PulPac – packaging innovation

    British soft drink company Britvic acquired Aqua Libra Co – a startup whose device creates boiling, chilled, sparkling and flavoured water at the point of consumption, reducing water usage. “Britvic has been able to use technology innovation and go to market in a completely different way,” says Hackenberg. “In a similar way, large corporates like Pepsi are talking about adding flavour at the point of dispense rather than production.”

    One of the main technology advances likely to hit the automotive industry is the rise in developments around solid-state battery chemistry. “Innovation, however, comes in all forms”, explains Aris Karcanias, PA’s global head of energy. “This includes having the ingenuity to combine such new technology with a deep understanding of human behaviour and totally rethink the use of the car. We are currently applying such human-centric design thinking to develop a new EV charger solution that could standardise the uptake of charging solutions to enable increased technology adoption.”

    Technology alone, however, is not enough. It has to be built into the overall customer experience and influence behaviours if you want people to adopt it and make a difference. By making sustainability core to your purpose, playing to your strengths, getting started, and working with partners, alongside technology – you can win at sustainability innovation.

    Technology has the potential to answer many of the world’s toughest challenges, but it requires human ingenuity to unleash it. PA Consulting, in partnership with WIRED, shares insights on what it takes to develop and deliver life-changing technology.

    Read the full article here

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