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13 Hot Sustainable Products To Follow in 2013

"Hottest" lists have been making a comeback lately, and here we are with a few of our own! Inspired by our community's intensifying surge of new business value, creativity and the resulting solutions taking us toward a more sustainable economy, we would like to turn your attention to some key developments worth following  and acting on  in the corporate sustainability space this year. We are grouping them in four lists, and will be publishing them one at a time over the course of several days. Today we start with a look at 13 hot products that not only achieve drastic reductions in environmental and social impacts in their categories, but also have the potential to ultimately transform their entire industries. Here we go:

  1. PUMA's InCycle collection, which includes footwear, apparel and accessories that need not be tossed in the trash at the end of their useful life, but can rather easily be turned into biological nutrients or taken apart for metals, textiles and plastic to be reused in making other products (or more InCycle products). Particularly note-worthy in the InCycle collection are this T-Shirt and these Basket Sneakers, both of which are fully compostable.
  2. 3M's highly intriguing Scotch-Brite Greener Clean Sponge, which boasts a composition of 100% plant-based fiber. Not just any old plant material, but agave plants — which typically take up to 10 years to grow, consuming lots of energy and water in the process  most of which, once the useful juice is used to make tequila, used to go to waste until 3M's scientists stepped in.
  3. Lucid's Building Dashboard Network, a powerful toolset bringing the Internet of Things to buildings and enabling behavior change through radical transparency of energy and water use data. With clients ranging from Yahoo! to Starbucks and the one-of-a-kind Campus Conservation Nationals competition, Lucid's dashboards have become a recognized leader in this exciting niche.
  4. The BMW i series of electric cars, featuring the compact urban i3 and the dynamic i8 sportscar. These two models are being built from the ground up as entirely new concepts with the goal of being 'uncompromisingly sustainable' for the next age of mobility. To help fine-tune the i series, BMW has been collecting customer feedback through an impressive 16-million-kilometer e-mobility field trial for its ActiveE vehicle released last year.
  5. Solazyme's revolutionary algae-based renewable oils, which have a wide range of applications, serving as transportation fuels, food ingredients, skin and personal care products, as well as inputs in the production of laundry detergent, soap and shampoo.
  6. 'America's first molded fiber bottle' by Ecologic Brands  a simple-looking yet elegantly innovative and smartly designed line of containers, with a fully compostable outer shell made from 100% recycled cardboard and newspaper and an inner pouch using 70% less plastic than plastic jugs.
    All of these products were presented at SB'13
  7. The water center Coca-Cola is starting to build across Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia in partnership with DEKA Research and Development Corp. Each unit is designed to be an entirely off-grid little cabin the size of a small café, powered entirely by solar energy or biomass and featuring extra perks such as cell phone charging, some shade and a public flat-screen TV. DEKA's water purification technology takes 'anything that looks wet' (literally!) as an input and produces 1,000 liters of fresh drinking water per water center per day.
  8. The upcycling Filabot, a one-of-a-kind plastic extrusion system capable of converting most types of recyclable plastic, such as milk jugs, detergent bottles, soda bottles, shampoo bottles, product packaging and many more, into usable 3D-printing filament. Talk about the number of possibilities this opens up.
  9. The affordable, bio-based and biodegradable plastics Mango Materials derives from methane at a price that is competitive with that of conventional oil-based plastics. Using a patent-protected biological process, this brilliant start-up has found a way to both reduce the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and contribute to the rapid growth of the bioplastics industry.
  10. The solar-powered lighting centers Philips is building across Africa with an intention to bring evening sport, education, healthcare and commerce to rural communities which currently live without electricity. Philips is taking advantage of a new generation of highly efficient solar LED lighting to create areas of night-time light the size of a small soccer pitch each.
  11. Proof Eyeware's collection of original products, especially the signature sustainable wood sunglasses that have quickly grown into an internationally recognized brand, handcrafted in Idaho from sustainable materials by three brothers 'with sawdust in their veins' and their awesome team. Snoop Lion and Beyoncé are already on board.
  12. American Standard's prefabricated toilet system that is more hygienic, easier to install, and easier to maintain and clean than traditional toilets  without the need for any sewer infrastructure  and can be economically mass-produced for just $1.50 a pop. The project was done in collaboration with the Gates Foundation's Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Strategy, and International Development Enterprises (iDE).
  13. SAP's HANA 'Real, Real-Time Computing' solutions allowing a dramatic acceleration of analytics, business processes, predictive analysis and sentiment data processing for a truly real-time control over the destiny of sales and other key business activities. Watch this video on this page for a quick guide.

Fascinating stories, without exception. We are fortunate to have the change agents behind all of these products  and many more  confirmed as speakers for Sustainable Brands '13, June 3-6 in San Diego, and we can't wait to have them share insights and advice. As always, we would love to hear your comments and opinions, so feel free to let us know what you think in the comments section below!


Dimitar is the Director of Content Development at Sustainable Brands. He joined the team after earning a Master’s degree in Management Science & Engineering – focused on sustainable business – from Stanford University. Before Stanford, Dimitar worked in international development… [Read more about Dimitar Vlahov]