Trash Talk

Sustainability Trends to Watch in 2022

by Alissa Oliverson (SWAC Chair) February 2022

Trash Talk series from Sustainable Klamath, Solid Waste Action Committee (SWAC)

As we enter 2022 it’s clearer than ever that sustainability is not a fad. In the last five years, over 80% of global consumers have been making more sustainable choices, and one-third of Millennials now say they are willing to pay more for sustainable products and services if that’s what it takes. Sustainability isn’t going anywhere, and we might even say it’s poised to be the new normal – if it isn’t already. So, check out these trends in sustainability that are sure to keep you active and relevant in 2022.

Further growth of the plant-based food industry

The global plant-based food market is expected to reach about $44 billion in 2022, and it is forecasted to reach up to $100 billion in 2030. You may have seen it starting already, and plant-based foods will continue to expand into every grocery aisle instead of being relegated to the “health food” section. Plant-based foods have been starring in a progressively recognized role in sustainability for a few years as we continue to learn how they can contribute to cutting greenhouse gas emissions, preserve water and land, and improve human health.

The continued rise of clean transportation

It is estimated that in 2010 there were about 17,000 Electric Vehicles (EV’s) on the roads globally. Today more than 10 million EV’s are on the roads worldwide, and by 2030 it is estimated there will be about 145 million. Ford, Volvo, and Volkswagen have serious electrification plans for their fleets, and of the world’s 20 largest automotive manufacturers 18 have switched or pledged to switch to manufacturing EV’s. Purchasing an EV can even get you a tax credit. As one option to decarbonize transportation, EV’s are growing in popularity with consumers as producers make necessary changes to make them run longer with each charge.

Promoting sustainability with ESG investing

Evaluation of a company’s collective consciousness for Environmental, Social, and Governance factors has been an investment strategy for decades, but in 2020 investments in ESG funds more than doubled and it is estimated that ESG investments will reach upwards of $53 trillion by 2025. A study by The Economist found that companies with ESG targets generally had a lower environmental impact than those without such goals, and investors are finding it increasingly important to know that their assets match their planet-positive social conscience. Growing pressure from shareholders and activists has inspired many businesses to seek greener alternatives and divesting from carbon-heavy businesses is another way investors are demanding sustainability with the power of their dollars.

The continued decline of renewable energy prices

While other fuels have struggled during the COVID pandemic, renewables have grown and thrived. Solar is now cheaper than coal, and some studies call it the cheapest electricity in history. Renewable energy in general gets cheaper as we increase global capacity, so when we use renewables, we lower costs for everyone, making technology available and accessible, and helping to draw down our environmental impact.

Move from net-zero to climate-positive

Net-zero describes the balance between the amount of greenhouse gasses produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. Climate-positive refers to not balancing but actively removing more greenhouse gasses than we produce. Companies have been working on their net-zero pledges for years, and businesses continue to be held to higher sustainability standards; soon they will be required to disclose their climate risks to the public. With this shift to transparency, net-zero will become a generic standard in comparison with climate-positive. Climate-positive will not only do better things for the planet but it will also look more attractive to consumers as they choose where they spend their money.

We know the health of the planet is inexorably linked to human health, and we are more motivated than ever to take on sustainability issues. A trend is not a fad, and sustainability is trending. So whether you want to invest, join a cause, or make changes to your own daily products or routines, staying informed will keep you ahead of the curve. If you would like to find more information on sustainability, volunteer or donate, please visit SustainableKlamath.org.

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