Put down that beet-juice burger. The next big wave in plant-based protein is fake fish.
Buoyed by the success of red-meat mimics from the likes of Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, a growing number of companies is angling to capture their share of the early market for animal-free seafood.
Large companies including Bumble Bee, Nestlé, Tyson, General Mills and Thai Union are making various plays, whether by investing in upstarts or flexing their research and development muscles to formulate new products.
The startup space is buoyant with cash and targeting a blend of retail, direct-to-consumer and food service channels, playing with ingredients such as kelp, koji and mung beans. Plant-based and cultivated seafood companies raised $80 million in 2020, according to the nonprofit Good Food Institute (GFI), which counts 800 companies involved in the space. Overall, businesses creating all sorts of meat alternatives raised $3.1 billion last year, more than three times the level of 2019. Alternative meat, dairy and egg products make up more than half of that, at $2.1 billion.
Plant-based seafood only accounts for 1 percent of alt-meat sales, compared with 60 percent for beef, poultry and pork analogs, according to data from GFI and retail insights firm SPINS. Yet GFI has positioned the market for fake fish to become bigger, or at least more diverse, than those for beef and poultry alternatives.
The nonprofit has named the threatened collapse of fisheries and unmet demand for seafood alternatives as important factors. By 2030, it expects demand for seafood to be 30 percent higher than 2010 levels. Plus, the tens of thousands of edible creatures in the oceans offer a broader palette of flavors and textures to imitate compared with land mammals or fowl.
This is not lab grown meat; we actually use ancient techniques to make modern foods.
Plant-based seafoods are spawning in the freezers and aisles of mainstream stores. Gathered Foods’ Good Catch “tuna” is in a number of outlets, including Publix and Whole Foods. Trader Joe’s plans to stock alt-seafood, too.
Acceptance of plant-based proteins has grown quickly in recent years as consumer sentiment has been shifting away from meat. Unlike the early days of tofu and tempeh, today’s alt-proteins are designed to please flexitarians and omnivores, not just to fill a gap for vegetarians or vegans.
Plus, the touted sustainability benefits to deriving seafood-like ingredients from plants include reducing the reliance on open-sea fishing and fish farming, not to mention sidestepping the labor abuses found in seafood supply chains.
Seafood stand-ins not only promise a low carbon footprint, but they also seek to serve people with dietary restrictions. For example, kelp-based “shrimp” is kosher and won’t trigger a life-threatening shellfish allergy. If the sourcing is done carefully, fake fish also should be devoid of the mercury and microplastics that can stem from ocean plastic pollution.
Here in random order are several key companies making waves in alt-seafood:
Nestlé has the advantage of already employing 300 scientists, engineers and product developers spread across eight research and development centers. The food juggernaut’s alt-seafood explorations are being made by Nestlé Research in Switzerland and in Germany and the United States under the leadership of CEO Mark Schneider, a vocal proponent of the sustainability potential of plant-based nutrition.
Nestlé often describes plant-based food as part of its DNA; in 1886 founder Julius Maggi developed soups with a “meaty,” plant-based seasoning. The company’s Coffeemate nondairy creamer, born in 1961, is complemented today by nondairy almond, oat, coconut, soy and rice milks. Nestlé’s Garden Gourmet veggie burgers are well established in supermarkets, as are its vegetable-based sausages, chicken nuggets and lunch meats. The company’s sales of vegetarian and plant-based items grew by more than $222 million in 2019 and leaped by 40 percent in the first half of 2020.
“In general, there is a lot of dynamism and innovation in this sector, and that is a good thing,” said Torsten Pohl, head of the Nestlé Product Technology Center in Singen, Germany, via email.
He credited Nestlé’s scale, size and proprietary technologies with accelerating the development of plant-based, jarred tuna in a matter of nine months, leading to the release of the six-ingredient, pea-protein-centered “fish” last year in Switzerland. Nestlé scientists, chefs and technologists prototyped and tested the new products in retail outlets, producing early commercial batches in its R&D centers.
Defining success for me is when I can sit down in a restaurant and order our product off the menu.
“We want to offer people the best plant-based meat alternatives in terms of taste, texture, flavor and nutrition,” Pohl said. “To complement our internal capabilities, we also strategically collaborate with researchers, suppliers, startups and various other innovation partners.”
Nestlé cites the sustainability benefits of reducing overfishing and protecting ocean biodiversity as motivators of these projects. Following its tuna substitute, the company plans to release imitation shellfish and other fish next.
New Wave Foods
Shellfish are the specialty of New Wave Foods, which Tyson Ventures, chicken giant Tyson’s VC arm, backed in 2019. The startup completed a Series A $18 million funding round late last year.
The San Francisco-based startup is making mungbean and seaweed-based shrimp that’s supposed to have the “snap” and succulence of the real thing and can be dropped into any hot or cold shrimp recipe.
“2021 is the year of the shrimp,” said Michelle Wolf, co-founder of New Wave Foods, which is doubling its staff of 15 people by the end of the year and moving its Connecticut R&D kitchen to New York. “And that’s what we’re really focused on is just blowing out our shrimp product over the next year and delivering that movement.”
A main New Wave Foods ingredient is moisture-absorbent alginate, derived from brown kelp and used in biomedical applications including hydrogel for wounds. New Wave blends it with mungbeans. To recreate the colors and textures of shrimp, the team consulted with Brad Barnes, a certified master chef and director of consulting at the Culinary Institute of America. The product is kosher and doesn’t trigger problems for people who can’t eat soy or gluten either, according to New Wave.
In March, the company inked a deal with Dot Foods, one of the nation’s largest food distributors, aimed toward rolling out New Wave-branded shrimp on the menus of foodservice institutions and restaurants, which make up the vast majority of the market for shrimp. Wolf believes the disruption of the pandemic has caused consumers to embrace plant-based foods partly as a way to address climate change on a personal level. To reach young adult flexitarians, college campus dining is a special target for New Wave, in addition to corporate dining and independent chains that have weathered COVID well.
Market research in April by Fact.MR projected “shrimp” to be the most popular product in alternative seafood.
“We saw a huge opportunity with shrimp because it is by and far the most consumed seafood in the United States, but it is also the poster child for a lot of issues in our seafood supply chain,” said Wolf, who moved to San Francisco from Pittsburgh following a master’s in biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon, seeking to join a plant-based meat startup. Instead, she co-founded her own venture.
Depending on who’s counting, about half of shrimp is farmed, which in Southeast Asia has been wiping out coast-protecting mangrove trees. Shrimp is responsible for four times as many greenhouse gas emissions as the same amount of steak by weight, according to a study by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in 2017. (It described the carbon footprint of a steak and shrimp cocktail dinner as equivalent to driving from Los Angeles to New York City.)
In general, there is a lot of dynamism and innovation in this sector, and that is a good thing.
Seaweed, on the other hand, which makes up New Wave’s shrimp-mimic, sequesters carbon and reduces ocean acidification. Wolf hopes that spurring demand for plant-derived shrimp will have upstream effects, such as boosting beneficial ocean-based agriculture while reducing demand for farmed shrimp.
“Defining success for me … it’s when I can sit down in a restaurant — which is going to be sooner rather than later — and order our product off the menu and text my family back in Pittsburgh and say, ‘Hey, you know, go to so-and-so and get the shrimp,'” she said. “That’s going to be the moment for me where like, wow, we’ve really done something here.”
The mission-driven, direct-to-consumer brand Prime Roots is seeking to open the hearts and minds of consumers while helping to reduce the market for animal-based products. “Bacon” was an early offering, and “lobster” ravioli is its latest. Its fermented “superprotein” koji is the key ingredient. Koji mold, the fungus Aspergillus oryzae, has been core to savory foods for millennia throughout Asia.
Koji can be tinkered with fairly easily to replicate the texture of muscle fibers of various creatures. Additional ingredients are added to bump up nutrition and finetune the mouthfeel. From Prime Roots’ R&D kitchen in west Berkeley, California, the five-year-old company grows koji in a nutrient-rich broth in a process similar to brewing beer.
“This is not lab-grown meat; we actually use ancient techniques to make modern foods,” said Kimberlie Le, the company’s co-founder and CEO. “I wouldn’t have even thought to look at koji as a source of protein if I hadn’t started to learn about fermentation when I was like 4 or 5 years old with my mom.” Her mother, Chi Le, is a well-known chef who appeared on the show MasterChef Vietnam.
With a staff of 25, Prime Roots is small but Kimberlie Le believes its proprietary koji brewing can scale up fairly easily. Pound per pound of protein, its processes are far more resource-efficient than harvesting meat from animals, the company estimated.
“We really hope that people will support that and see that there’s a better way of eating and making protein and that we’re fundamentally rethinking our system,” Le said. “We’re really excited to be able to be there for our community online and really get to go from farm to table, essentially, which is something that’s important, to connect people to their food and where it comes from.”
Gathered Foods’ Good Catch
Good Catch is becoming the most visible fish-free consumer brand in the frozen aisles, where its bags of shelf-stable “tuna” already appear. The company uses a “six-legume” blend of peas, chickpeas, lentils, soy, fava beans and navy beans.
In May, its maker, central Ohio-based Gathered Foods, released a line of $6 frozen fish sticks to be sold in Safeway and other supermarkets, following an April Series B funding round of $26.4 million. Good Catch is in 5,000 U.S. and Canadian stores, and its plant-based tuna salad is bound for 200 Whole Foods prepared food counters.
The irreverent Gathered Foods co-founders, brothers Derek and Chad Sarno, have corporate roots at Whole Foods. The self-described “culinary ninjas” also launched the Wicked Healthy plant-based community, and Chad continues to lead plant-based developments as an executive at Tesco.
Gathered Foods has attracted funding from celebrities Woody Harrelson and Paris Hilton, and early in 2020 pulled in an investment from General Mills’ venture branch, 301 Inc, an early backer of Impossible Foods. 301 Inc’s founder and managing director John Haugen told GreenBiz that seafood is “another compelling proposition that meets the needs of consumers today.”
Among its other big-name supporters, Gathered Foods has a distribution partnership with tuna titan Bumble Bee.
Founded in 1899, Bumble Bee claims 28 percent of the market for shelf-stable seafood including tuna, salmon and sardines. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2019, a move industry observers blamed not just on a price-fixing scandal but on a lack of innovation. Taiwan-based seafood trader FCF now owns Bumble Bee.
At the same time, consumers had been turning away from canned tuna, especially the millennials and members of Generation Z, known to circle the fresh and chilled items that tend to ring the perimeter of a grocery store. Packaged tuna sales in general, lackluster for years, enjoyed a temporary lift during the early months of the pandemic.
I honestly thought I was eating conventional shrimp when I took a bite of it.
Those events and trends sent Bumble Bee on a process of soul searching, which led to redefining its purpose as “feeding people’s lives through the power of the ocean.” Beyond fish, the San Diego-based company is casting a wide net by considering ingredients derived from plants and algae, from fermentation and from cell-based or cultivated methods, too.
Bumble Bee points out that it’s the first shelf-stable seafood name to support regenerative practices for the ocean, as well as the first to offer a tuna traceability tool to its customers and to use blockchain technology to trace its frozen seafood’s origins.
“With all of that, it became very natural to start talking to a company like Good Catch,” said Renee Junge, Bumble Bee’s communications vice president. The tuna giant and the alt-food startup signed a distribution agreement in March 2020, the first relationship of its kind between a major national seafood brand and a plant-based one.
The two CEOs — Jan Tharp of Bumble Bee and Christine Mei of Gathered Foods — speak on a weekly basis. Bumble Bee brings its expertise in sales, orders, logistics and warehousing together with Good Catch’s expertise in innovation and production. Through investing in systems and resources, the tuna maker gets a cut of Good Catch’s sales. Bumble Bee describes this joint alignment as reflecting the companies’ shared values of protecting the ocean via alternative food sources.
“That said, our two companies do have different histories, origin stories, business approaches and cultures,” said Tharp, who also serves on Gathered Foods’ board, via email. “There is a great deal that we can learn from Good Catch; their entrepreneurial and culinary approaches are something we are trying to incorporate into our practices. On the other side, we have systems and processes that are tried and true, which can help Good Catch with efficiencies and scalability. These types of partnerships are not easy, but they are fruitful and essential.”
Other alt-fish players
Alternative proteins are a big focus for the future of another tuna giant. Thai Union in March began selling its OMG Meat products in Thailand, including meat-free crab meat, fish nuggets and dim sum. The Chicken of the Sea seller is working on “shrimp” as well.
The tiny Van Cleve Seafood Co. in October began marketing crunchy coconut “shrimp” in Publix’s GreenWise grocery stores. From the Netherlands, Schouten is exploring alt-tuna with its wheat and soy-based TuNo, and it plans to follow with salmon-like and cod-like products. The private company has been producing plant-based proteins since the 1990s.
Meanwhile, lab-grown fish is taking off. Out of San Diego, startup Blue Nalu hopes to bring its cultured mahi-mahi to U.S. plates this year. It reeled in $60 million in debt financing in January. Its partnerships with larger companies include Nutreco, Griffith Foods, Pulmuone, Rich Products and Thai Union Group. Blue Nalu is building a demonstration kitchen with a microbrewery-style restaurant, reportedly able to grow analogs to red snapper, yellowtail amberjack and bluefin tuna.
This is just a sampling of the organizations exploring the seafood-analog realm. It’s possible that pioneers in alternative proteins, such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, will break their silence with offerings in this area as well.
Jen Lamy, senior manager of GFI’s Sustainable Seafood Initiative, is excited to see big-name companies getting involved here and hopes others will dive in. What’s the business benefit?
“There’s a lot to be gained from companies in this space that pertains also to the efficiency and the ease of the production system compared to relying on a supply of, for example, wild capture fish from the ocean,” she said. “There are all of these reasons coming together at the same time that will, hopefully drive a lot of the companies into the space.”
I’m hoping we’ll see a lot of other companies really focused on taste above everything else because that’s what consumers need to need to experience before anything else.
Business-to-business activities could accelerate innovations, she added. For instance, companies could open-source their technologies for seafood textures or flavor profiles, she noted. “There’s not sort of one code that everyone is trying to crack,” Lamy said. “Because there are so many differences between the companies, they’re all using either certain ingredients or going for different products or going for different markets.”
Consumers have been interested in supporting ocean sustainability for a long time, buying Marine Stewardship Council-certified fish or buying from local fishmongers, but the options for acting on those values haven’t been clear in the past, Lamy said. Not only do plant-based options provide a clearer sustainability story, but the rise of sustainability labeling for them will help to boost consumer confidence.
An additional selling point for seafood stand-ins is their nutritional benefits, as chefs seek to right the wrongs of their predecessor, the low-protein, additive-packed crabstick, industrialized since the 1970s. (Its main ingredient is blended-up fish product called surimi, which has been used in Japan for about 800 years.)
A key challenge to winning over consumers is in delivering a seafood aroma that’s not intensely fishy, Lamy noted. Among the early offerings she has tasted, the coconut “shrimp” from family-owned Van Cleve Seafood stood out.
“It was pretty impressive to me; I honestly thought I was eating conventional shrimp when I took a bite of it,” she said. “I’m hoping we’ll see a lot of other companies really focused on taste above everything else, because that’s what consumers need to experience before anything else.”
Solar & Wind Power = 99.7% of New US Electricity Capacity in 1st Quarter of 2021
Not including rooftop solar power, solar PV accounted for 36.5% of new US electricity generation capacity in the first quarter of 2021. (Note that we are talking about new power capacity in this article, not electricity generation itself.) Another 63.2% of new US electricity generation capacity came from new wind power plants. Those two combine for 99.7% of new US power capacity. Not that it really matters at such a low percentage, but another 0.1% came from hydropower and 0.2% came from coal power.
In March, 100% of new power capacity came from solar and wind power.
In terms of actual capacity increases, 477 megawatts (MW) of solar and wind were added in March, and 4625 MW were added in January–March.
Despite the high percentage of new power capacity, the 2021 increase in the first quarter was well below the Q1 2020 and Q1 2019 increases (8303 MW and 6084 MW, respectively). In those time periods, though, the percentage of overall power capacity increases were 51% and 47.6%, respectively. So, clearly, a positive shift is underway.
Looking at overall installed power capacity (not just power capacity additions), solar and wind have gone from 11.4% in Q1 2019 to 12.7% in Q1 2020 to 14.8% in Q1 2021. Progress.
As far as all renewables combined, the progression is: 21.6% in Q1 2019, 22.8% in Q1 2020, 24.7% in Q1 2021.
The specific power plant additions across US electricity grids in the month of March were:
- Frontier Windpower II LLC’s 351.8 MW Frontier Windpower Expansion in Kay County, OK is online. The power generated is sold to City of Springfield MO under long-term contract.
- Wapello Solar LLC’s 100.0 MW Wapello Solar Project in Louisa County, IA is online. The power generated is sold to Central Iowa Power Coop. under long-term contract.
- Solar Star Prime 2 LLC’s 7.0 MW Solar Star Prime 2 Project in Richmond County, NY is online.
In actuality, rooftop solar power might have added more US power capacity than the three projects above all combined in March. However, we don’t have data on that yet.
Another other thoughts on these figures?
Shortly, I will be publishing our March and Q1 2021 US electricity generation report. The electricity generation numbers will look much less rosy than the capacity numbers above.
As Predicted, Electric Vehicles Are Getting Cleaner
As electric vehicle (EV) aficionados like to say, the cleaner the grid, the cleaner the EV.
That certainly rings true. Unlike gasoline-fueled vehicles, all-electric vehicles don’t emit tailpipe pollution of any kind, smog-forming or climate change-creating. But given that EVs are charged by electricity, they are indirectly responsible for the pollution from the source of that electricity, as well as the emissions from producing whatever fuels those power plants burn. Regardless, when compared to a gasoline car, whose fuel efficiency and emissions will remain the same for the life of the car, an EV will be accountable for less and less pollution over time as utilities transition from fossil fuels to wind, solar and other renewable sources.
A new analysis by UCS Senior Engineer David Reichmuth bears that out. From 2018 to 2019, despite an administration that promised to prop up the coal industry, EVs did indeed get cleaner. And the numbers are all the more impressive when you consider the improvements over the last decade.
EV sales in the United States over the past year, in the midst of a pandemic, also were encouraging. From the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of this year, EV sales jumped nearly 45 percent, and sales from this January through March reached nearly 100,000, a record for one quarter. So far, this year’s sales are outpacing 2020’s total EV sales of 252,548. That said, EV sales were less than 2 percent of all US vehicle sales last year.
Given that the transportation sector is now the top US carbon polluter, responsible for 29 percent of all US carbon emissions, it is imperative to transition from gasoline to electricity as quickly as possible. Now, with a new administration promoting EVs and major automakers rolling out more EV models, are EVs poised take off?
I recently caught up with Reichmuth to find out more about his new analysis and ask his opinion on the short-term and long-term prospects for EVs. Below is an abridged version of our conversation.
EN: Let’s start with your top findings, which — as I already mentioned — show that EVs are getting cleaner.
DR: Yes, that’s right. Driving the average EV is accountable for significantly less carbon pollution than driving a gasoline car, and that difference has become more pronounced as time goes on. Given where EVs have sold to date, their emissions — based on 2019 power plant emissions data — are equivalent to a gasoline car that gets 93 miles per gallon (mpg), which is dramatically better than even the most efficient gasoline hybrid. Last year, when we conducted the same analysis based on 2018 power plant data, EV emissions were equivalent to an 88-mpg gasoline car, so the “climate pollution gap” between gasoline and electric vehicles is continuing to widen.
EN: UCS did its first analysis comparing carbon emissions from EVs and gasoline-powered vehicles back in 2012 based on 2009 power plant data. Now that you’ve looked at carbon emissions based on 2019 data, how have things improved?
DR: There’s a major difference between our first analysis about a decade ago and today. The electricity sector has experienced a massive shift. Coal-fired plants, which generated 45 percent of US electricity in 2009, produced only 23 percent in 2019. Over that same time, grid operators added more solar and wind power. All of these changes mean driving an EV in 2021 is much cleaner than 10 years ago.
EN: Where are the “cleanest” areas of the country to drive an EV?
DR: Upstate New York is the cleanest place to drive an EV. The emissions attributable to an average EV there is the equivalent of driving a 255-mpg gasoline car. California and New England are also among the top clean areas, where driving an EV is comparable to driving a 134-mpg and 122-mpg gasoline car, respectively. Why are these regions so clean? A major reason is their grids get very little electricity from coal.
But there are substantial benefits even in states where the grid hasn’t switched over to cleaner power yet. An average EV in Ohio, for example, is accountable for the same amount of carbon pollution as a 60-mpg gasoline car, about half of the emissions of the average new gasoline car that gets only 31 mpg.
The mpg (miles per gallon) value listed for each region is the combined city/highway fuel economy rating of a gasoline vehicle that would have global warming emissions equivalent to driving an EV. Regional global warming emissions ratings are based on 2019 power plant data in the EPA’s eGRID2019 database (released February 2021). Comparison includes gasoline and electricity fuel production emissions estimates for processes like extraction, transportation, and refining using Argonne National Laboratory’s GREET 2020 model. The 93 mpg US average is a sales-weighted average based on where EVs were sold in 2011 through 2020.
EN: As you point out in your analysis, pickup trucks and other, larger vehicles, no matter how they are powered, are less efficient. Are EV pickup trucks still a good idea?
DR: First off, a more efficient EV will have lower emissions than a less efficient one, so I would encourage people to choose the most efficient vehicle that meets their needs. But, for people who need a larger vehicle, such as a pickup truck, driving an electric version would be considerably less harmful to the climate than driving a gasoline or diesel truck.
For example, the gasoline version of the Ford F-150 pickup truck gets around 20 mpg. While the official efficiency data are not yet available, I estimate that the emissions associated with the recently announced Ford F-150 Lightning all-electric pickup, when driven in California, would be equal to driving an 85-mpg gasoline vehicle. In other words, driving the electric pickup would have less than a quarter of the carbon emissions of a gasoline version of the same vehicle.
EN: To make it easier for consumers to choose EVs, there will need to be a significant investment in charging infrastructure. President Biden has called for installing 500,000 charging stations nationwide by 2030 in his American Jobs Plan. What investments do you think will be needed to support charger deployment?
DR: It is very promising that President Biden’s plan includes such a large investment for electric vehicles, including EV charging infrastructure. Half a million chargers represents a significant down payment on the infrastructure we will need to transition from gasoline to electricity.
As the US EV fleet continues to grow, we will of course need charging stations along highways to support longer trips. But we also must make sure deployment is equitable and chargers are installed in all communities, including low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. City residents who do not have access to off-street parking with electricity — people who live in apartments, condominiums and multifamily housing — will have to be able to charge their vehicles as well.
EN: What else should the federal government do to promote EVs?
DR: Besides investing in EV charging infrastructure, there are a number of other things the government could do to accelerate the transition from petroleum-fueled transportation.
First, the federal government should set stronger vehicle emissions standards to ensure there will be more EVs on the road and — at the same time — make sure that any gasoline cars sold are as efficient as possible. To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we’ll have to switch to electric vehicles. But keep in mind, automakers will still be selling gasoline vehicles over the next decade, so it will be critical to require those vehicles to meet tougher, achievable emissions standards.
Second, the government should strengthen existing EV purchase incentives programs. For example, Congress should update the federal tax credit, which is as much as $7,500 for electric passenger cars and light trucks, and consider allowing consumers to receive the incentive when they purchase the vehicle instead of when they file their taxes the following year. Likewise, expanding purchase incentives to include used EVs would help make EVs a viable option for car buyers shopping in the used car market.
The federal government needs to do more to help US auto manufacturers make the transition to electric vehicles, too. Incentives will be important, but the government also should reward automakers that have strong labor standards, use domestic materials in their EVs, and assemble EVs here at home. Expanding existing federal loan and grant programs and funding new ones that promote domestic EV manufacturing would help make US automakers more competitive as the United States — and the rest of the world — electrify their cars and trucks.
The Biden administration’s American Jobs Plan calls for investments in many of these EV incentive programs, and we look forward to seeing it move forward in Congress.
Part of a series on Ask a Scientist.
Colorado Environmental & Equity Legislative Roundup
After months of drafting, negotiating, and rallying around legislation in the Colorado State Capitol, the General Assembly has adjourned. Looking back over the past six months, it’s clear that achieving enforceable and equitable climate action was a top priority not just for NRDC, but for our community partners and elected officials as well.
Our priority bills focused on how to help Colorado center environmental justice and disproportionately impacted communities as well as drive important reductions in the greenhouse gas emissions that are already warming our climate, melting our snowpack, and contributing to wildfires and drought. This session was no walk in the park, but at the end of the day, we made real progress. As a result of tireless advocacy from environmental, health, business, and community advocates across the state, legislators passed the following essential policies:
- HB21-1266 defines disproportionately impacted communities, requires engagement of those communities, and creates staffing, task forces, and boards focused on addressing environmental justice. This bill charges polluters for greenhouse gas emissions and uses the funds to invest back into disproportionately impacted communities and supports the climate and environmental justice staffing. It also absorbed parts of our climate bill that faced a veto threat (SB200) including enforceable deadlines, reduction requirements, and rulemakings for the electric, industrial, and oil and gas sectors.
- HB21-1189 regulates three toxins (Benzene, Hydrogen Sulfide, and Hydrogen Cyanide) and four facilities (Suncor, Phillips 66, BF Goodrich, and Sinclair). It also requires covered facilities to conduct and publicly report fenceline monitoring.
- SB21-246 requires investor-owned utilities to file beneficial electrification plans every three years that must include programs targeted to low-income and disproportionately impacted communities with at least 20 percent of the funding going to those households. This is also the first building electrification policy to pass with active labor support in the country.
- HB21-1286 requires owners of certain large buildings to collect and report their building’s energy use annually and meet periodic building performance standards.
- SB21-264 requires gas distribution utilities to file a clean heat plan with the Public Utilities Commission that shows how it plans to meet the targets of a 5% reduction below 2015 greenhouse gas emission levels by 2025 and 20% below 2015 GHG emission levels by 2030.
- SB21-108 adopts rules and penalties related to gas pipeline safety.
- SB21-72 directs the Public Utilities Commission to approve utilities’ applications to build new transmission, creates the Colorado electric transmission authority, and sets out deadlines for electric utilities that own transmission facilities to join a Regional Transmission Organization.
The evolution of SB21-200 and HB21-1266 warrants its own discussion. In mid-January, Governor Polis released his Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap, which laid out the sector-specific emissions reduction targets needed to hit the economy-wide goals set forth in HB19-1261. Following the report release, climate and environmental justice leaders Senator Faith Winter and Representative Dominique Jackson proposed legislation in line with the Roadmap to help the State make good on its climate promises.
However, a shocking and early veto threat from the Governor meant the bill was bound for an uphill battle. Coloradans across the state took notice and came together to push for the bill, culminating in a broad coalition of more than 100 environmental, racial justice, public health, outdoor recreation, business, youth, and community organizations elevating the need for climate justice. It was this coalition that helped HB21-1266 absorb elements of SB21-200, cross the finish line, and ensure environmental justice and disproportionately impacted communities are centered, not sacrificed, in climate action. It is this larger, more inclusive, and more powerful coalition that will hold the state accountable in future rulemakings, legislative sessions, and implementation.
Growing the Circular Economy: Opportunities for Resource Recycling under China’s Carbon-Neutrality Target
For the first time, RMI has examined the vast potential for resource recycling in China and shown how it can serve as an important component of reaching the nation’s zero-carbon goal. Growing the Circular Economy: Opportunities for Resource Recycling under China’s Carbon-Neutrality Target [PDF] quantifies the market opportunity across nine key segments, from scrap steel and plastics to biomass and EV batteries, finding a ¥2.8 trillion potential market in 2050.
The report provides a qualitative analysis of each of these segments, looking at the current state of the market and addressing issues such as resource availability, existing policy supports, and the potential for greenhouse gas mitigation. It also explores how the development of resource recycling industries can help to shift business ecosystems towards a circular economy with greater efficiency, lower emissions, and reduced waste.
Growing the Circular Economy can serve as a starting point for investors, entrepreneurs, and policymakers to explore the immense possibilities of the resource recycling in China. The report provides essential information to help form both a quantitative and qualitative basis for thinking about both business and political approaches to this market.
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