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Top Clean Tech Innovations to Watch in 2021 and Beyond

Clean tech (or cleantech) is a trend that has been brewing in almost every market sector since the turn of the millennium. The drive for lower carbon emissions, sustainable sourcing, and low-waste products is a trend that helps both the planet and the consumer at the same time, and it has just gotten better.

Let’s take a closer look at clean tech trends

Emerging Technology

Across the board, several companies are offering products with a new outlook toward the global impact of their entire life cycle.

Clean, autonomous vehicles are being manufactured that not on waste less fossil fuels by engine design, but can be programmed to run at peak efficiency by constantly monitoring road conditions and throttling in the most efficient way possible. They are also outstanding at preventing collisions and warning the operator of necessary service, saving time and money.

Plastic Recycling

Until the modern era, the most efficient use of recycling surrounded metals, which still use tons of fossil fuels to process, and glass, which still requires a lot of virgin material to manufacture.

In 2021, the trend of turning trash into cash is continuing to ramp up. Things that were once considered waste products are being converted into useful products like synthetic lumber and raw materials for new products. There’s a lot of junk to recycle, including:

  • Plastic bags
  • Pill bottles
  • Old pens
  • Broken Tupperware
  • Milk cartons

With the right support, which is already in place, this could become the next 100% reusable material available. And with continued trends in making stronger, more durable, and longer lasting plastics, plastics are quickly replacing aluminum and steel components in more and more products.

Pharmaceutical and Biotech

Biotechnology is going green with bioinformatics. Every phase of the modern medical industry is being rethought to provide less wasteful processes for risk assessment, diagnosis, safety, and traceability.

No doubt the pandemic is partially responsible for the rapid ramping up in this sector to deliver everything from respirators to vaccines quickly and efficiently. With any luck, continued development in this area during 2021 will lead to lower cost, more efficient medical services that provide less intrusive help to people who need it.

Green Hydrogen

Combustion engines are starting to be phased out for new technologies. Traditionally, this meant battery and solar powered cars, which still depend on dirty industry to manufacture.

Hydrogen, on the other hand can be produced as a fuel source that doesn’t pollute, and it can be utilized with incredible efficiency to provide the power needed for planes, trains, and automobiles. This developing industry could completely replace coal and gasoline, and we’re on the threshold of seeing it become mainstream.

3D Printing

It seems only yesterday that the ability to mass produce small parts on a tiny industry scale was an impossible dream. We all remember Star Trek replicators and how silly they seemed in practice, but more and more this is becoming the new reality.

What started with laser machines burning small bits of plastic or wood designed to be stacked and glued together has become its own industry, allowing more precise printing of all types of materials with no mating of parts required on the back end.

Everything from plastic to metal, and even molten glass can be used as the raw materials to make anything imaginable without any of the drawbacks from conventional casting or limitations with CNC machining.

Progress is even being made in 3D printing food. No more sloppily assembled cheeseburgers!

Industrial Technology

Developments have also been made in green systems to replace some of our rapidly aging infrastructure. Water purification plants that don’t use harsh chemicals, for example.

Carbon dioxide capture is another fast moving industry that could potentially help just about every existing factory. Less than a generation ago, the best we had were “scrubbers,” chemical compounds stacked into chimneys for the removal of harsh chemicals and absorbing of carbon.

These were a great first step, but also expensive and required their own processes, and they simply moved the waste from one place to another. Now, companies like Svante are creating systems that can reduce the cost of carbon extraction systems and help ensure that emissions from big plants are much lower, potentially zero.

Semiconductor Technology

You might be thinking computer chips and smartphone parts, but GaN Systems and others are inventing a lot more than that. Power conversion, transistors, and semiconductors could lead to much more than high-tech data centers and electric vehicles.

Revision of this industry means that the once filthy and polluting industries that make these products can operate without the once unavoidable toxic outputs. Solar panels reduce carbon emissions, but their production has historically made a lot of chemical waste.

No more. We as people of the world want to be green, but we also want to do it with products that were made via Earth-friendly processes. When it comes to electronics, we will soon be able to have our cake and eat it too.

The Best Part About Clean Tech in 2021

Historically, clean energy and clean tech have been the dream of the masses but unobtainable or too costly for big business.

In light of all the developing trends, and the huge investment of venture capitol, the green energy movement is surging right now because the technology being developed can actually save large corporations money and help them do their job better and cleaner than ever before.


2020 may have been a rough start for all of us into a new decade, but moving forward, the sky is looking brighter and less smoggy. As companies like Amazon scramble to improve the environmental impact of their shipping and warehousing, the whole world is getting a breath of fresh air.

And it will only get better. What was once impossible for these companies is, more often, becoming a necessity to keep them in business. The movement toward green now offers cost savings rather than extra costs, and in the very near future it will become the only way to operate, because doing it the old way will simply be too expensive.

Cheers to a cleaner future.

Further reading: The ultimate green crowdfunding platforms list

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