Innovation Roundup: Global Brands Tackle Social Issues


Surabaya Recycled Plastic Bottles for Bus Far

Brands are increasingly innovating for a new bottom line: doing well by doing good. From New Zealand to Indonesia to Brazil, companies are plying their trade and products with an eye toward alleviating social problems and bettering the quality of life. In today’s edition, we shed a spotlight brands solving social issues through creativity and innovation.

Bus Tickets for Recycled Plastic

In Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia, a bus service takes no money. In exchange for two hours of travel, passengers boarding the bus can hand in either five 600 ml used plastic bottles, three 1.5 liter used plastic bottles or 10 used plastic cups.

In the first three months of operation, 12 tons of used plastic bottles were collected from passengers using the buses. With a population of 3 million people, Surabaya and has reduced garbage sent to the city’s landfill to 1,600 tons a day, after recycling. Without such efforts, the city would have generated 2,600 tons of garbage a day.

Surabaya is just one of several Indonesian cities supporting national drives to boost plastic recycling.

On a global basis, one day of bus rides in exchange for garbage would represent a substantial step in combatting pollution.

These cities let you pay for transport with plastic

These cities are leading the way.Read more on plastic pollution:

Posted by World Economic Forum on Sunday, September 16, 2018

Ford Brazil Ramps Up Accessibility

Ford Brazil has developed a car mat that converts to a wheelchair ramp.

The automaker found that of the 46 million people in Brazil with disabilities, 7% have limited mobility, and their challenges in getting around are exacerbated by sidewalks and streets that lack access ramps.

Together with GTB and Code Studio, Ford created the “Accessibility Mat” from a redesigned trunk liner of the Ecosport compact SUV, made of lightweight material that’s easy to store.

“The mat, currently in prototype stage, also lays the groundwork for a long-term solution,” reports Ad Age. “It’s outfitted with bluetooth technology that connects with an app on the user’s phone. That data then goes to local officials to inform them where there’s a pressing need for accessibility options as well as to other mat users, in order to give them a heads up on where mobility obstacles will arise.”

Auckland Transport and Salvation Army  

Auckland Transport is in talks with the Salvation Army about opening Manukau Bus Station as a night shelter for South Auckland’s homeless. The new $37 million bus interchange could house between 15 and 20 “rough sleepers” each night over the “coldest part of the winter,” said a spokesperson. “We want to be proactive and do something positive for people who are already sleeping near or around the building.”

The Salvation Army would provide on-site supervision, along with bus operators and retailers in the building.

“We’ll shelter you, but we want our services around them,” said Manukau ward councilor Alf Filipaina. “Our community who are the most vulnerable are at the forefront of our minds.”

Easy model to emulate anywhere there’s a bus station and an organization willing to step up.

Auckland Bus Station

Good Money Invests in Good Causes

Online banking platform Good Money is owned by the people, in service of the planet, and offers mobile banking to empower citizens to be part of a more equitable and transparent world.

Users who sign up get an equity share and become a partial owner of the platform.

Good Money, with is 100% online, offers members financial perks, like no ATM or overdraft fees, but most importantly, it supports the planet through impact investments and charitable donations.

“The system can start to work better when people and the planet are the stakeholders,” said founder Gunnar Lovelace.

Good Money

Ready, Set, Grow Vertically

An innovator in smart hydroponic software and containerized growing environments, Freight Farms enables customers to grow fresh products using LEDS and hydroponics in any environment, 365 days a year.

Freight Farm’s Leafy Green Machine hydroponic shipping container is a fully assembled, vertical hydroponic farming system built inside a 40-ft. shipping container. It’s capable of growing lettuces, herbs and hearty greens at commercial scale in any climate or location, by any individual, community or organization year-round, and can be managed using a remote control app.

The company, which operates in 38 states and 15 countries, just added Grown by Freight Farms, an on-site vertical farming service, and will provide a farmer to operate, monitor and maintain the farm completely.

“Our mission with Grown is to provide a solution to institutions that see the immense value of local produce, and would rethink their sourcing methods if challenges like personnel and facilities management were reduced,” said Brad McNamara, CEO and co-founder of Freight Farms.


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