Eco-Innovation: Need of the hour

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Article by Dr Piyush Parkhey

 

Issues relating to environment, especially climate change and energy resources have been a topic of concern amongst the scientific community for a long time. This has been so because, let’s accept the truth, that in the wake of rapid development and growth, man has offensively utilized the natural resources bestowed upon him. So much so that, there is an imminent danger of them becoming extinguished in near future. Not only that, the unprecedented use of fossil fuels has led to a serious damage to the environment as is evident with the climatic changes in and around ourselves. Therefore, it has not just become a necessity, but a social responsibility to judiciously use the natural resources for them to sustain for the utilization by the future generations. In this regard, a new concept has come up called us eco-innovation. Before knowing about eco-innovation, we must know what is sustainable development.   Simply put, sustainable development is the concept by which, a balance is maintained between utilization of natural resources and meeting human development goals. That such a societal condition would be met upon sustainable development where living standards and conditions would be at par with the human requirements while at the same time the integrity and stability of natural systems will not be compromised. So how does eco-innovation help in achieving sustainable development? Well, eco-innovation, based on the existing knowledge drives development of processes and products that cause either direct or indirect ecological and environmental advances. In other words, it leads to the development of environmentally friendly technologies for the societal benefit through sustainability. Such technologies provide significant market and customer value but with minimal environmental impacts. Therefore, eco innovation in total touches three aspects of sustainable development: technological, social and institutional innovation.

Let us see few interesting examples of eco-innovation. Probably the most significant eco-innovation of recent times is the sewage treatment machine known as OmniProcessor funded by Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and developed by Janicki Industries which turns human waste into drinkable water in just five minutes. The machine can process 12.3 cubic meters of sewage waste per day producing 10,88 litres of clean drinking water and can also produce 150 kilowatts of power. Another exciting innovation is a world’s first ever solar lit underground park called as The Lowline which is proposed to be built in New York city. Such a project would not only be based completely on renewable source of energy, but would also be a perfect example of complete and ideal utilization of public space.

Where is India standing amongst all this? Well, substantial practicable environmental friendly innovations are being carried out in India as well. An interesting piece of work was done by Pamela Malhotra and her husband Anil Malhotra, who together developed a 55 acre of wasteland in Karnataka’s Kodagu district in a wildlife sanctuary. The sanctuary called as SAI (for Save Animals Initiative) sanctuary is a home for numerous rare species of animals and various indigenous trees and medicinal plants.   Another fascinating example is the innovation developed by Kritika Parwal from Jaipur. Looking at the serious ecological concerns to the forests due to increase in paper usage, she has developed a concept of seed-embedded-paper, which is capable of singularly sprouting into plants. This is a perfect example of returning to the nature as you use.  A third example is from the Narayana Peesapati who while working as a scientist at the International Crops Research Institute in Hyderabad was deeply concerned with the damaging effects of plastics on the environment. He envisioned and later established his own start-up called Bakery’s that produces edible cutlery made of rice, ajwain, wheat, jowar, black pepper and is made in different shapes and sizes.

These examples perfectly portray that environmental innovations when applied strategic and comprehensive, either by individuals or organisations are set to return countless benefits, both financially and socially.

 

About the Author: Dr Piyush Parkhey is the National Post Doctoral Fellow at Bioengineering and Environmental Sciences Laboratory, EEFF Division, CSIR-IICT, Hyderabad

Posted By : ScienceIndia Administrator
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