Episode #51 - This technology business is revolutionising the way we think about waste carbon

Show notes

Jennifer Holmgren, the CEO of pioneering green fuels business LanzaTech has been hunkering down at the beautiful Cedar Lakes Estate, some 70 miles outside of new york city. For two weeks of limited access to the outside world, she, along with 11 other business leaders have been put through some serious mentoring and business strategising as part of the Unreasonable Impact programme in the US – an initiative orchestrated by Barclays and the Unreasonable Group.

And it was for good reason. 

LanzaTech was selected as one of just 12 businesses from, let’s face it, a gargantuan list of innovative companies out there, because it is on the cusp of greatness, demonstrating through its unique business model that it can scale up marvellously, creating some 500 new jobs in the emerging green economy within the next five years.

Founded in 2005, LanzaTech has found a way to commercialize carbon capture and reuse technology.

Sean Simpson, chief scientific officer and co-founder, LanzaTech

It converts carbon-rich waste gases (which contain carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and hydrogen) and turns them into high-quality biofuels and chemicals. So, taking the waste carbon in gases and residues coming out of steel manufacturing plants, for example, and sequestering them into a new product – fuels that can power our cars, our planes – and the future. “Everybody knows about the fermentation process used in beer-making, where microbes turn sugar into alcohol,” says co-founder of the business and chief scientific officer, Sean Simpson (pictured). “Well, in our process, the microbes turn gases into alcohol.”

In this week’s Better Business Show, Simpson explains how the business plans to shake up the renewable energy sector with its fuels which reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by more than 70% compared to conventional gasoline – and by using waste as a feedstock, LanzaTech is operating wholly outside the food value chain, with no impact on land or water.

Enjoy. And, as ever, let us know what you think.

How the LanzaTech gas fermentation process works

How the LanzaTech gas fermentation process works

Episode #46 - The car we'll all be driving one day

Show notes

Of course, the large majority of our cars, lorries, buses and taxis are reliant on the combustion engine which of course burns fossil fuels, which of course contributes significantly to our green house gas emissions and local air pollution problems.

In London, some 9,500 people die from long-term exposure to air pollution every year and tackling toxic air is widely regarded as one of the biggest health emergencies facing our capital city – and many like it around the world.

And that is purely because people are having to breathe in toxic fumes coming from our transport.

Riversimple founder, Hugo Spowers

Riversimple founder, Hugo Spowers

Yes, you can charge people to enter city centres – and the new Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is keen to introduce a new 'T-charge' of £10 a day for the worst-polluting vehicles, including older cars and diesel vans.

But is that any better than putting lipstick on a pig?

The game needs changing. And as my guest on this week’s show says: Sometimes you need to rip things up and start again.

Hugo Spowers (above right) is the owner of Riversimple, a new car manufacturer, who has spent the last 16 years developing not only a product designed to rid the planet of polluting vehicles, but also a business model he hopes will incentivise and smooth the transition that is required if we’re going to get people out of their dirty, 20th century cars and into vehicles fit for the here and now.

Enjoy the show.

Oh, and if you want to know more – or put your name down to be one of the first to take the plunge in leasing a Rasa – head over to riversimple.com.

Friday Five - 18 November - Your perfect antidote to Black Friday

This is the Better Business Show Friday Five, our brand new show coming to you at the end of every week – digesting the very best stories from across the world of sustainable business in the last 7 days.

This week, we’re talking:

  • Palm oil pragmatism, at last
  • The new Veg Curious social movement
  • Investors waking up to climate change
  • Green Friday, a perfect antidote to Black Friday
  • Alaskan Airlines timber-powered flight

Don't miss our two Better Business Show episodes a week by signing up to our weekly newsletter: www.betterbusiness.show

Episode #37 - Jonathon Porritt interview: Despair, frustration and hope from the world's most famous sustainability activist

Show notes

The crash of 2008 was supposed to be a great opportunity for the Left. Radicals talked about the collapse of capitalism; the more realistic among us believed that a focus on efficiency and belt-tightening would at least offer solid ground for a sustainable world to now flourish.

It hasn’t quite turned out that way, as this week’s guest knows only too well.

He may not like to describe himself as a ‘greenie’ – not least because his work over the past 40 years has been as much about tackled economic, social and corporate strategic issues as anything else – but he is entrenched in the community – but Jonathon Porritt (pictured right) continues to bang the drum for progressive thinking, in politics, business and beyond.

And, as you’re about to find out during our extensive and wide-ranging interview this week, he continues to despair at the lack of government intervention in supporting companies of all shapes and sizes to get on the right path towards sustainability – describing as utterly pathetic, the UK government’s insistence that letting companies make voluntary commitments is enough to transform the economy.

Of course, his work at Forum for the Future – which he set up in 1996 – has seen him work directly with some of the world’s most progressive companies, like Marks & Spencer, O2 and Unilever. And today, with a focus on brining companies together to work in collaboration on a range of project, he is also helping small, agile and technologically brilliant companies to flourish too.

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Reference links:

- Forum for the Future
- Jonathon's personal blog
- Forum's collaborative system change work
- the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
- Unilever's approach to the SDGs
- Neal Lawson's Compass
- the More United initiative
- the Living Grid project
Open Energi
- Pukka Herbs

Episode #17 - Forget Facebook. Meet the social network for social good

Show notes

Technology has a unique ability to create positive change – and the way in which people are using new software, tools, gadgets and gizmos is really driving the sustainable business agenda right now.

The way in which we interact with our planet, our things, our community and one another is being seriously aided by the advent of brand new, or repurposed technologies which are – hopefully –making it easier to just do the right thing.

This week's guest is Nick Davies, the creator of a social network called Neighbourly. To explain what it does most simply: makes it easier for companies to find community projects and charities to support – and then shout about the fact via it online platform functionality.

But it's so much more than that.

Nick delves into the detail during this week's show to explain how the platform – "the social network for social good" – has morphed and shifted into what it has become: an incredibly powerful tool for creating positive social and environmental change by connecting up the key players that can actually make things happen (business, NGO, charity, individual).

I hope you enjoy it.

Check out Neighbourly.com. It's free to join and free to post a project – and 'free' is how the site will remain forever, says Nick.

Nick Davies, founder, Neighbourly.com

Nick Davies, founder, Neighbourly.com


During this week's news round-up, we talk:

- Ikea's new range of sustainability-focused products
- Sadiq Khan's London mayoral victory 
- Etsy's plan to get its sellers topped with solar panel
- And gender diversity trends