Out of thin air

'Waste as a resource’ is one of the defining mantras of our sector, but what about extending that to ‘greenhouse gas as a resource’? Libby Peake catches up with a man with exactly that vision

This article was taken from Issue 80

Manmade climate change is, without a doubt, the biggest challenge of our age, and rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are the direct cause of the problem. A great deal of political and scientific effort has gone into finding ways to curb such emissions, but with atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases reaching record levels in 2013 and holding steady in 2014, it’s fair to say they’ve yet to be successful.

As a problem, it’s proving impossible to solve, but what if it were seen as an opportunity instead? No, I’m not saying that climate change is a good thing, but referring to a company that has chosen to see greenhouse gases as a resource rather than a scourge. Newlight Technologies, founded in 2003 but only in the public eye since 2011, is capturing atmospheric greenhouse gases and using them to create a plastic material called AirCarbon, which it says matches oil-based plastics in performance and out-competes them on price.