Trends

Plastic from Plants + Microplastic Pollution + WWC

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Engineered microbe may be key to producing plastic from plants: Phys.org reports, with a few genetic tweaks, a type of soil bacteria with an appetite for hydrocarbons shows promise as a biological factory for converting a renewable—but frustratingly untapped—bounty into a replacement for ubiquitous plastics. Bioengineers in Japan have used PDC to make a variety of materials that would be useful for consumer products.

Microplastic pollution has contaminated American groundwater, the lakes, and rivers of the UK, the coast of Spain, the beaches of Singapore and the Yangtze River in China, studies from around the world have shown. While the health effects of the tiny plastic particles on humans are still undetermined, they have been shown to harm marine life – and to have been consumed by people in Europe, Japan, and Russia.

New York City school menus go meatless on Mondays: WSJ reports, the NYC mayor says the policy will improve the health of children and the planet; food trade group says the move will limit low-income youngsters’ access to protein.

The nation’s largest school district follows others, such as Los Angeles, in offering only vegetarian dishes on Mondays, saying the move will help the environment by cutting greenhouse gases. 

Women finally get their own World Cup soccer style: NYT reports, for decades, women’s uniforms were just derivations of men’s. Now, taking specific design cues, like ponytail-friendly necklines, comes the good stuff

Nike revealed the new home and away uniforms for 14 out of 24 competing teams, and for the first time since the brand began working with the WWC tournament in 1995, each one of them was made specifically for the women’s teams, not as derivations or extensions of kits made for men.

Body Language + Silicon Valley + Power Suits + Robot Receptionists + Gas Guzzlers

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Smile, you're on camera: Japanese company Vaak developed software that uses artificial intelligence to detect body language suggesting someone intends to shoplift and alerts staff so they can intervene. 

New York, Beijing chip away at Silicon Valley: Growth of digital tools at companies world-wide is set to unseat the world’s go-to technology hub, a KPMG survey finds.

"Nearly 60 percent believe that it is likely or very likely that the technology innovation center of the world will move from Silicon Valley by 2023."

Read the 2019 Technology Innovation Hubs report - click here.

It's over - The end of tailor-made power suits and leather-soled shoes: Goldman Sachs is shifting to a more casual working style. The investment bank has told its 36,000 staff that the time is right to relax its dress code to “create a welcoming environment for all.” Although suits and ties are now optional employees are still expected to dress smartly for business meetings, with the bank advising that they wear attire that is “consistent with your clients’ expectations.”

Michael Skapinker: Are robot receptionists the future of hospitality? Automation may be fashionable — but never underestimate the value of human contact. https://on.ft.com/2EBWzKn

China's Hainan province to end fossil fuel car sales in 2030: AFP reports, China's southern Hainan island will end sales of fossil fuel-only cars in 2030, officials said, becoming the first province to announce a target end date for a transition away from gas guzzlers. Beijing announced plans in 2017 to phase out petrol vehicles across the nation, but it did not set a date, as the country aims to cut pollution and reduce its dependence on imported oil.

Did you know? SpaceX + Human Stem Cells

SpaceX rocket with an unmanned crew capsule blasted off on Saturday for the International Space Station, in a key milestone for Elon Musk’s space company and NASA’s long-delayed goal to resume human spaceflight from US soil later this year.

Japan okays research using human cells in animals: AFP reports, Japan has given the green light to a controversial research process involving implanting animals with human stem cells that could eventually help grow human organs for transplant inside animal hosts.

Did you know? Single-use bottles + Robots + Venice

Glastonbury festival bans sale of single-use bottles: The Glastonbury festival will ban the sale of single-use plastic bottles this year, it said yesterday. Plastic bottles will not be supplied backstage, in dressing rooms or to production and catering staff, according to its website.

US companies put record number of robots to work in 2018: Reuters reports, US companies installed more robots last year than ever before, as cheaper and more flexible machines put them within reach of businesses of all sizes and in more corners of the economy beyond their traditional foothold in car plants.

Venice imposes entry fee for day-trippers: DW reports, from May, millions of day trippers to Italy's ancient, lagoon city will have to pay an entry fee. The price is set to double in 2020 and be used to keep the ancient islands clean.

There are 25 million visitors to the city of Venice in northern Italy each year. Of these about 14 million stay just for a day, and often bring their own picnics.