Jim Crawford: A look at two planet-saving innovations

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 14, 2023

While, for the most part, our Republican friends have shown little or no interest in all things related to preserving the planet for the future of humanity and our organic partners here, their policies have been burdens against our future.

In Republican circles, it is popular to praise the deadly coal industry and its environmental damage, and to tout to less damaging but nonetheless planet-damaging natural gas fracking industry. 

It is also seen as “woke” in Republican politics to show concern for planet helping in any regard. Climate science is seen as damaging to industries that must, by some insane logic, be free to continue ravaging Earth for the benefit of profit before people.

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Whether it is pollution-free electric automobiles or solar or wind renewable energy or efficient battery technology or energy-saving light bulbs, Republicans have always found planet-saving technologies to be entirely without merit. The planet-saving technologies that are now unfolding have found their greatest enemy in the Republican distaste for science.

So it is good news to see progress made by people who recognize that it will require an “all hands-on board” approach to innovation to save the planet by creating solutions to everyday problems.

A small company in France has developed a solution to recycling clothing with the help of AI technology. 

Clothing waste has historically been shipped to poorer countries and added to waste disposal sites, left to pollute the surrounding environment. 

But now, with this new technology, CETIA, a southwestern French company, scans garments, identifies hard elements like zippers and buttons and uses a laser to cut those elements off quickly and efficiently. 

The technology also separates shoes from their soles, recycling a resource that previously required many hours of melting the glue to remove and recycle the sole. 

Clothing recycling, once only 1 percent of clothing recovery, now may significantly reduce waste in this industry. CETIA’s work is supported by big name retailers and the French government.

Meanwhile, Biotech company Mycoworks has begun production in its new manufacturing facility in Union South Carolina, with its intent to grow millions of feet of car leather-like material, of calfskin texture, the industry’s gold standard.  

The company has partners in Hermes and General Motors as it progresses into commercial scale manufacturing in biotechnology. 

The product, a the material called Reishi, is manufactured in the world’s first ever full-scale leather-alternative production facility.

One of the core components of Reishi is mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms. 

The product was first developed in a small company-owned facility in California, then brought to commercial-level production in a South Carolina factory.

By locating in South Carolina, Mycoworks has returned to a state where textiles were once a dominant industry. While the new factory is 80 percent automated, it does offer high-paying employment, AI technology, digital analytics and automated guided robots.

It the support of the Republican governor of South Carolina, Henry McMaster, whose efforts to bring cutting-edge science and technology to South Carolina are fully reflected in this effort.

“We are already seeing the growth that this opening is bringing to the immediate and greater communities in the area, including more jobs, housing storefronts, and overall investments,” McMaster said.

It is uncertain what will be required for the Republican Party to adopt the science of environmentalism and its interrelated climate change science. 

But it is certain that business and industry will continue to adopt innovations that both protect the planet and ensure that the environment has an opportunity to recover and restore itself.

Republicans need more Henry McMasters and far fewer climate change deniers.

Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.