Each year on April 26, we recognize the value of intellectual property (IP) and celebrate the astounding innovations that happen as a result of incentivization. This year, the focus of World IP Day is on innovation for a green future, emphasizing the fact that the earth’s resources are finite and must be conserved in order to put us on the track to sustainability. To showcase the depth of innovative new products and processes in this space, we highlight three inspiring examples below.
Direct Air Capture (DAC)
According to climate.gov, carbon dioxide levels in the air are higher now than they have been in the last 800,000 years. Increased carbon dioxide in the air absorbs energy from the sun and contributes to the greenhouse effect, causing an overall increase in the average global temperature.
The DAC air-cleaning technology works to solve this issue by pulling air from the atmosphere. In the DAC device, a special chemical solution binds with the CO2 molecules. This removes roughly 75% of the carbon from the air before it is pumped back out into the atmosphere. Meanwhile, the carbon extracted remains in the device and is pressurized so that it can either be reused or stored underground.
Each year, eight million tons, the equivalent of 57,000 blue whales, of plastic are dumped into the oceans. If this continues, plastic will outweigh all of the fish in the ocean in just 30 years.
Many innovators have begun tackling this dire problem. At just 16 years old, Boyan Slat began developing a 1.2 mile long barrier that uses the natural currents of the ocean to trap plastic and other garbage. The barrier features a 10-foot long “skirt” that extends into the water and acts as a net. According to Slat, 60 of these barriers might have the potential to reduce trash in the Pacific Ocean’s great garbage patch (which is twice the size of the U.S. state of Texas) by 50% in the next 15 years.
Edible Notpla Water Bottles
Made from seaweed and other plants, Notpla is a patented material that is fully biodegradable and is actively reducing plastic waste. Notpla Ltd. has developed many products with the sustainable material, but one of their most popular products is the Ooho, the edible water orb. The Ooho replaced all single use plastic from the Virgin Money London Marathon and has strong potential to expand to other sporting events.
World IP Day is an important annual reminder that intellectual property protection is necessary to incentivize innovators to push the envelope and develop novel solutions to pressing issues. This year in particular, we honor the progress made to protect our Earth and its natural resources. The examples highlighted are only a tiny sample of the wealth of green innovation happening today, made possible – in part – due to a strong intellectual property ecosystem that incentivizes and protects inventors. We must continue to support this ecosystem to work toward a more sustainable, earth-friendly future.