RecycleMania! Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund, Net Zero Aviation Fuel Launching in Florida, and Microsoft’s 2030 Climate Goals.
RecycleMania! Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund, Net Zero Aviation Fuel Launching in Florida
NET-ZERO SUSTAINABLE AVIATION FUEL PROCESSING PLANT LAUNCHES IN GEORGIA
The world’s first alcohol-to-jet, net-zero sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production plant is set for completion this year in Soperton, Georgia. It’s being built by LanzaJet. LanzaJet, a sustainable fuels technology company and renewable fuels producer. The company is dedicated to accelerating the energy transition in sectors where decarbonization is hard, such as aviation.The fuel is lower-cost than current fuels and is produced from low-carbon, sustainable ethanol sources.
It launched this project through funding received from the Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund. LanzaJet estimates a production goal of 10 million gallons of SAF and renewable diesel per year from sustainable ethanol, including from waste-based feedstocks, starting in 2023.
Why does net-zero SAF matter to us? Aviation is responsible for about 12% of global CO2 emissions.
LanzaJet set an ambitious goal of 1 billion gallons of fuels by 2030. Jimmy Samartzis, LanzaJet CEO, said, “Creating the change which our world desperately needs requires perseverance, innovation, and like-minded partnerships.”
MICROSOFT’S CLIMATE INNOVATION FUND
So what is the Climate Innovation Fund that helped fund Lanzajet’s sustainable aviation fuel production plant? It was launched by Microsoft in 2020 as part of the corporation’s 2030 zero waste goal. The Fund helps suppliers and customers reduce their own carbon footprint and accelerate the global development of carbon reduction, capture, and removal technologies.
Microsoft deploys capital in two areas:
- accelerating ongoing technology development by investing in project and debt finance
- investing in new innovations through equity and debt capital.
The website’s a little vague, but to receive funds, investments need to meet four criteria:
- strategies that have the prospect of driving meaningful decarbonization, climate resilience, or other sustainability impact
- additional market impact in accelerating current and potential solutions
- relevance to Microsoft by creating viable technologies to address unpaid climate debt and future emissions
- consideration of climate equity, including for developing economies.
Why does the Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund matter to us? Microsoft president Brad Smith wrote in a blog post:
“Reducing carbon is where the world needs to go, and we recognize that it’s what our customers and employees are asking us to pursue. We understand that this is just a fraction of the investment needed, but our hope is that it spurs more governments and companies to invest in new ways as well,”
MICROSOFT’S 2030 CLIMATE GOALS
Microsoft announced in January 2020 the launch of an aggressive program to cut the company’s carbon emissions by more than half by 2030. The cuts come from its direct emissions and its entire supply and value chain. And the program claims it will put Microsoft on a path to remove all the carbon from the environment it has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975. By 2050.
Quoting the website, “It is an ambitious – even audacious – goal, but science tells us that it’s a goal of fundamental importance to every person alive today and for every generation to follow.” For Microsoft to reach its “net zero” emissions, it is employing seven principles or elements:
- Grounding in science and math.
- Taking responsibility for our carbon footprint.
- Investing for new carbon reduction and removal technology.
- Empowering customers around the world.
- Ensuring effective transparency.
- Using our voice on carbon-related public policy issues.
- Enlisting our employees.
Microsoft will continue to invest in carbon monitoring and modeling projects through its AI for Earth program. AI for the Earth is a $50 million granting program launched in December 2017. The grants provide access to Microsoft resources to support projects that change the way people and organizations monitor, model, and manage Earth’s natural systems.
Why do Microsoft’s 2030 Climate Goals matter to us? According to the scientific community, human activity has released more than 2 trillion metric tons of greenhouse gasses into the Earth’s atmosphere since the start of the First Industrial Revolution in the mid-1700s. So if a monstrous multinational like Microsoft works toward net zero, it will influence other companies that doing so is not only right, but also profitable.
CAMPUS RACE TO ZERO WASTE
It’s that time of year again. Its time for that creative inter-campus recycling competition formerly known as RecycleMania, now called Campus Race to Zero Waste, to commence. Campus Race to Zero Waste started life in January 2001 as RecycleMania. It began in January 2001 as a challenge between Ohio University and Miami University and has grown to include more than 1,000 colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada to help campuses reach their waste reduction goals.
According to its website, the name was changed to its present one in order to better reflect one of the goals of the organization. That goal is to help colleges and universities find pathways toward zero waste (90+% diverted from trash) on campus.
Campus Race to Zero Waste is billed as a friendly competition. Participants are provided tools to inspire, empower, and mobilize colleges and universities, their students, staff and faculty, to benchmark and improve efforts to reduce or eliminate waste.
And if I’m honest, I’m a little late to report on this event. The last day to register for the eight-week competition was January 31st, which also happens to have been the first day of competition. So unfortunately, if you’re a college student interested in enrolling your school in the competition, it’s too late.But it’s also possible your school is already enrolled! Go to recyclemania.org/scorecard –YES, they still use the old web address–and then choose “participating schools” from the dropdown menu.
And oh by the way, it’s going on for another 7 weeks.
There is a link for past competition results—worth checking out. Maybe your child’s college or your alma mater participated then. Which brings us to why the Campus Race to Zero Waste competition matters to all of us. Thanks to the over 1,100 colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada who have participated in the Campus Race to Zero Waste program, recycling, donating and composting more than 1,064 million pounds of waste and preventing the release of over 1.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. That’s comparable to removing over 335,000 gas engine passenger vehicles from the road for one year.
DEEPER DIVE: RecycleMania.org