Although politics dominated the headlines, it wasn’t the only major news in 2019. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels hit 415 ppm this year, the highest level the Earth has seen in 3 million years. These were some of the major green news stories in 2019.
Mainstream EV Production
Last year, we noted that 2018 was a pivotal year in the growth of electric vehicle production, and 2019 seems to have borne that out by bringing electric vehicles into the mainstream. Tesla was the first manufacturer to ignore eco-chic and design mainstream-cool electric cars.
While the Tesla Cybertruck may have moved beyond cool and into avant-garde, other manufacturers are picking up the slack. Ford has presented an electric Mustang — complete with “manual” transmission and acceleration worthy of its muscle car legacy. Other manufacturers have announced EVs in the pipeline including sports cars, SUVs, and hatchbacks.
Plant Based Meat
In the past couple of years, respected journals like Nature and The Lancet have come out with claims that a mostly vegetarian diet is required to sustain the world’s population long-term — even as charcuterie continued to top food trends.
Fake meats were invented in medieval China. In the West, Kellogg pioneered fake meat with Protose — a canned nut and gluten product that appealed only to idealogues. Veggie burgers were invented in the 1970s and ’80s to provide a satisfying burger for vegetarians. But the Impossible Burger became the first microbe-generated, heme-containing meat replacement.
Using more traditional methods, Beyond Burgers has released more meat-like veggie proteins, and in the U.K., KFC introduced quorn-based Imposter chicken. Predictions that the beef and dairy industries are on the verge of collapse may be overblown. But 2019 may be remembered as the year that fake meat finally went mainstream.
Last year, China essentially banned imports of foreign commingled recyclables, throwing the U.S.recycling system into crisis. In response, cities around the country found themselves stockpiling recyclables, raising rates, and sometimes, abandoning their curbside recycling programs altogether.
China is now looking at blocking most fiber imports as well. While the future of curbside recycling is still uncertain, in 2019, the U.S. recycling industry began to adapt by building long-term domestic processing solutions and individual inventors are developing new recycling technologies like the Styro-Constrictor.
Alternative approaches to the “single-stream” model of waste collection are beginning to test people’s interest, too. We explored the new business models in recycling with companies like Loop and Ridwell this year.