With 2018 officially in the rearview mirror, we enter 2019 with a clear focus on ethical living and the ways in which we can all be more sustainable as people, small businesses, corporations, and governments.
In 2019, global sustainability trends are taking shape in a meaningful way. Some you may not notice right away, but others will be impossible to miss since they will not only be emphasized in the media, but also in our everyday lives.
Here are 5 sustainable trends to keep an eye on in 2019.
1. Sustainable Vehicle Automation
As climate concerns continue to grow, so does the attention being paid globally to carbon emissions. Because cars and trucks are large contributors to these emissions, a great deal of progress continues to be made regarding the restructuring of the vehicle industry. Low to zero-emission vehicles, self-driving cars, and fully electric options are gaining in popularity – a trend that will only gain strength in the coming year.
According to GreenBiz several countries are working to actively ban fossil fuel cars within the next 25 years and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has projected that self-driving vehicles could replace up to 90% of vehicles on the streets of urban cities.
2. Consumers and technology will make headway in reducing plastic pollution
Addressing our plastic problem is something that many organizations, corporations, activists, environmentalists, governments and individuals have been doing for years – so what is going to be the new trend in the 2019 plastic battle? The answer lies with the informed consumer and changes in plastic technology.
Because plastic is an affordable material with an extensively wide range of uses, it isn’t likely that plastic waste will become a thing of the past by December 31, 2019. What is likely to happen is a change in the way consumers use plastic and the pressure they will continue to exert on their elected officials to make single-use plastics less accessible overall.
If plastic is here to stay then it will need to evolve with the times. According to Frank Killoran, Director of Customer Solutions here at Rubicon, “Chemical recycling technology, whereby plastics are recycled using chemical systems to upcycle plastic waste back into its basic chemicals, will see a dramatic uptick in 2019, thanks in large part of the Chinese National Sword program. The industry has been flooded with dirty waste plastic, but innovation has taken place already and will continue next year, where companies will work to build large-scale plants that can handle the hundreds of tons per day of plastic waste that is being produced and currently landfilled.”
3. Sustainable Farming
If there is one area in 2019 that sustainable efforts can have a huge impact, it’s agriculture. The past few years have shown increased attention to the way we produce food, and efforts have been growing to ensure that the process of growing is as beneficial for the earth as it is for our tables.
According to James Goodman, director of futures and projects at Forum for the Future, “The internet of things, remote sensing, artificial intelligence and a revolution in robotics are coming together to make low-input, data-driven automated agriculture at scale a real possibility.” This is good news for more efficient use of water, decreased waste overall, and better crop production in the coming years.
4. Increase in sustainable building materials
The years 2016-2018 showed us that if it can be made in an eco-friendly way there is likely someone out there who will make it so – 2019 will be no different. While packaging and everyday materials have been making responsible shifts to biodegradable, compostable, and fully recyclable options in recent years, there is one industry that will continue to strive for new sustainable heights in 2019. That is the construction industry.
According to Marc Spiegel, Construction and Demolition Sector Lead and Co-Founder of Rubicon, “When looking at the construction and demolition industry, it will be critical to leverage technology to deal with the massive challenge of cleaning up, waste and recycling. Today there are better ways to deal with construction clean up, other than doing what we did 50 years ago and calling the garbage company. Educating the public and private sectors on modern possibilities is vital to change old habits.
In addition, the lack of dedicated construction and demolition material recycling facilities means that each commodity being recycled must have its own container to prevent cross-contamination. This scenario makes coordination and logistics more important for users and vendors, which is why embracing technology could be a catalyst for change in 2019 and beyond.”
5. Increased social action and education around sustainability
With so much at stake globally, 2019 could be the year when the effects of our increasingly ultra-connected behavior as a society rises to a new level and leads to meaningful positive change. Change can be hard but we are proving more and more that it doesn’t have to be a four-letter word. In the past, we have achieved great things as a society when we have worked together and in 2019 we expect to see big changes.
For example, we expect to see a growing number of organizations doing the hard work needed to gain B Corporation status, an increase in green building LEED certifications, more cities instituting single-use plastic bans, and global policy changes intended to make polluting nearly impossible.
We also expect to see sustainability commitments increase for small businesses and individuals through more responsible recycling practices, efforts toward becoming more energy-efficient, and efforts to become more educated about sustainable initiatives in local communities.