Clean Technology

Looking Ahead to 6 Sustainability Trends for 2022


Sustainable products have shifted from niche to norm over the past few years, particularly with the explosion in interest among investors to drive environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) issues. In 2022, it’s only expected to grow more. Here are six sustainability trends to look out for in 2022.

1. Food: Alternative Proteins

The Boston Consulting Group estimates that the market for alternative proteins could grow from 13 million metric tons a year in 2021 to 97 million metric tons a year by 2035. At that point, plant-based meat substitutes would make up 11% of the overall protein market. One industry leader can be found in Dutch cultivated meat startup Meatable, which has brought together a team of experts from fields including molecular biology, chemistry, tissue engineering, bioprocess development, food safety, and food science to create more sustainable alternatives for animal products. Meatable closed $47 million in its Series A funding round in March 2021, bringing the company’s total funding to $60 million.

More companies are taking responsibility for what happens at the end of a product’s life span.

2. Housing: Biophilic Design

Nearly two-thirds of respondents to CBRE’s 2021 Global Investor Intentions Survey have already adopted ESG criteria as part of their investment strategies. Now, architects and developers are taking up the challenge, as well. Among other sustainability trends in the sector, biophilic design allows building occupiers to connect occupants directly and indirectly with nature. That can mean adopting more green space, promoting green roofs to reduce CO2 emissions, and even creating room to grow food. For instance, London-based architecture practice Heatherwick Studio’s EDEN project provides each unit in a 20-story apartment block in Singapore with its own garden.

3. Fashion: Designer Secondhand Clothing

Whether it is called “vintage,” “preloved,” or plain “secondhand,” it is increasingly likely to be in fashion. Fashion house Valentino has recently joined designer options Diesel Second Hand and Gucci Vault with the launch of Valentino Vintage. Secondhand fashion retailer Vestiaire Collective announced in March that it had raised another $216 million, raising its valuation to above $1 billion. According to a 2020 secondhand fashion report published by Boston Consulting Group, the global market for used clothing is expected to swell “by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15% to 20%” within the next five years. Gains may even reach 100% year over year for established online retailers.

4. Air Quality: Growing Hydrogen Power

Hydrogen can be increasingly attractive to ESG investors as part of a low-carbon-emission energy portfolio thanks to its ability to generate electricity. Driven in part by newer transportation applications, the global hydrogen market is anticipated to be worth more than $300 billion by 2027 and have a compound annual growth rate of 9%. Peugeot, Citroen, and Opel have already begun production on a hydrogen van. The world’s first hydrogen-powered train, developed by Alstom, is meanwhile being tested on the Railway Research Institute’s test track in Żmigród, Poland.

5. Supply Chains: Reuse and Sustainable Disposal

More companies are taking responsibility for what happens at the end of a product’s life span. According to Deloitte’s 2021 Global Chief Procurement Officer Survey, “Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) saw the largest increase of any priority (22% increase versus 2019) and is 75% more likely to be formally measured by high performers.”

The circular supply chain and reverse logistics both form a key plank here. For instance, Intel has moved from what it describes as a “make, use, dispose” model to “make, use, recover, reuse, reclaim.” As Intel supply chain manager Greg Skrovan noted, “It’s about keeping products, materials and resources in use for as long as possible. And when we’re no longer able to reuse them, finding a sustainable way to dispose of them.”

These and other sustainable actions from companies are a reflection of individual decisions to go green—but on a much larger scale. As trends for the year begin to take shape, decision-makers across industries are set to begin taking a firmer grip on their sustainability goals for 2022.

Any company, security, fund or other investment identified herein is provided solely for illustrative purposes and should not be construed as a recommendation or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any such investment.

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