“Not disposable” is printed on the floor next to the Styrofoam recycling area at the Recology store in Bothell. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

“Not disposable” is printed on the floor next to the Styrofoam recycling area at the Recology store in Bothell. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Clean technology is about more than just wind and solar

Local companies are baking clean tech into manufacturing processes and products and services of all kinds.

EVERETT — What is clean technology? Until 10 or 15 years ago, clean tech referred almost exclusively to ventures focused on the design and manufacture of renewable energy sources — such as wind and solar and the batteries used to store that energy.

Now,it can be used to describe products and services that reduce pollution, waste and energy use in a broad range of industries, said Diane Kamionka, head of TheLab@Everett, a business incubator that’s paired with the Seattle-based CleanTech Alliance to present monthly clean tech discussions.

“Clean tech is now incorporated into manufacturing, food production and packaging,” Kamionka said.

Nearly 84,000 people are employed in clean tech sectors throughout Washington, according to a report called Clean Jobs Washington 2019, including 36,500 in King County, 7,800 in Snohomish County and 7,000 in Pierce County.

Cutting an unnecessary step in a manufacturing process or supply chain can lower costs and the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted.

In Bothell, ASX Composites, a year-old startup, is about to deploy machines that can manufacture carbon fiber composites in small quantities and onsite, a method that can save on storage and transportation costs, said Andy Buchan, the firm’s vice president of strategy and business development.

Composites, the materials used in the manufacture of lightweight aerospace parts and wind turbines, are usually manufactured in large quantities and then stored in huge refrigerators that gobble electricity. Delivery requires hauling the material on refrigerated trucks. ASX Composites hopes to streamline the process at several points in the supply chain — reducing storage time and transportation costs.

For 20 years, WaterTectonics, an Everett firm, has been treating wastewater that’s used in the construction, mining and oil-and-gas industries. The company’s patented technologies remove heavy metals, oil and other particles so that water can be safely returned to the environment. “It’s one thing to put together a small system in the basement — the challenge is getting it to work in an industry where the flow might be 100 to 2,000 gallons a minute,” said Jason Mothersbaugh, the company’s vice president and general manager.

The Recology store in Bothell’s Canyon Park Place shopping center sells recycled products and up-cycled goods, including dryer fabric softeners made of recycled wool, wallets fashioned from airplane seat leather and a reusable ear swab. “It’s actually really popular,” said Erin Gagnon, who oversees Recology’s four Puget Sound retail locations.

Concern over human-created climate change has prompted more companies and governments to take steps to reduce carbon footprints. “Footprint” refers to the amount of carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping greenhouse gas, that’s released in the course of human activity, such as oil and natural gas extraction, farming and travel that uses fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide is implicated in the rise of drought, heat waves, heavier rain, flooding, shrinking polar ice caps and changes in the habitat of marine and land animals.

Last year, the Snohomish County Council unanimously passed a resolution committing to a goal of 100% clean electricity by 2030 and 100% clean energy in its transportation and other energy sectors by 2045. The pledge includes the creation of an energy efficiency fund and commitments to a green fleet and green building policy.

The county’s pledge is similar to measures in Edmonds, Bellingham, Spokane, Whatcom County and elsewhere.

The Everett City Council passed a resolution last month declaring a climate emergency. The measure, introduced by councilman Paul Roberts, requires the city to review energy, land use and transportation methods as part of an overall public and private effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Last month, Microsoft pledged to become 100% “carbon-negative” by 2030, which means that it plans to remove more carbon from the environment than it emits.

Can capitalism reduce the region’s carbon footprint?

Eric Berman, a member of a Puget Sound-based investors group focused on clean technology, thinks so.

Berman is the board of directors co-chair at E8, an angel investors group that backs clean tech companies. The organization is named after oxygen, the eighth element in the periodic table. Since its 2006 founding, E8 has invested nearly $40 million in clean-tech companies.

“Policy and charity are great — important — but at the end of the day the most powerful tool is capitalism,” Berman said.

“If you can’t make money being sustainable, you’re always going to be a niche. Automaker Tesla is great not because they’re green but because they make amazing cars,” Berman said.

E8 candidates are generally past the friends-and-family stage of a young company’s evolution, Berman said.

“They’ve raise a little bit of money, they’ve got a prototype. They’ve made a gallon of something, now they need to make 10,000 gallons. They have a credible business plan. Our money should give them about two years of runway until they can be self-sustaining,” Berman said.

Investment strategies have changed in the past decade, he said. Until about 2010, clean tech investment centered on science and manufacturing. Now it’s more closely focused on technologies that reduce waste and energy use. So, for example, investing in software that controls a car battery’s recharging cycle could be a sound investment. “Batteries last longer if you don’t fully charge and discharge them,” Berman explained.

The Seattle-based CleanTech Alliance aims to support the growth of clean tech companies and jobs through educational programs, research, products and services. “Our mission is helping companies get started and be successful in this sector,” said J. Thomas Ranken, president and CEO. That includes helping entrepreneurs identify potential markets. “We had a young woman, an entomologist, come in who wanted to feed the world with bugs,” Ranken said. “Instead of human food, we found that the bigger market is animal food. She’s doing very well,” he said.

Janice Podsada; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods

Learn more about clean tech

TheLab@everett is live-streaming the 2020 CleanTech Alliance Breakfast Series, a free monthly event that showcases clean tech speakers and topics, lab director Kamionka said.

The next installment, “Changing Trends in Energy Storage,” will be live-streamed from 7:30 to 9 a.m. on Feb. 18 from TheLab at 1001 N Broadway in Everett.

Jud Virden, associate lab director for energy and the environment at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, is the featured speaker. Everyone is welcome to attend.

TheLab is also sponsoring a free Clean Tech Mixer on Feb. 25 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. It’s a social hour to talk about clean tech.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

FILE - In this file photo dated Monday, March 11, 2019, rescuers work at the scene of an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash south of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  The number of deaths in major air crashes around the globe fell by more than half in 2019 according to a report released Wednesday Jan. 1, 2020, by the aviation consultancy To70, revealing the worst crash for the year was an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX on March 10 that lost 157 lives. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene, FILE)
Former Boeing test pilot pleads not guilty in 737 Max case

He’s the first person to be charged with a crime in connection with the Indonesia and Ethiopia crashes.

Top (L-R): Kim Daughtry, Steve Ewing. Bottom (L-R): Gary Petershagen, Marcus Tageant.
Developers court Lake Stevens council incumbents with over $20K

Over half of the campaign dollars for four candidates came from people tied to real estate or property development.

People hold signs in protest of the vaccine mandate after Boeing announced it would terminate workers who do not comply on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Some Boeing workers protest in Everett over vaccine mandate

The Boeing Company announced earlier this week that its workers must be vaccinated by Dec. 8.

FILE - In this March 14, 2019 file photo, Ethiopian relatives of crash victims mourn at the scene where the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after takeoff killing all 157 on board, near Bishoftu, south-east of Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia. Relatives of some of the passengers who died in the crash will mark the two-year anniversary of the disaster on Wednesday, March 10, 2021, by seeking a reversal of government orders that let Boeing 737 Max jets fly again.  (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene, File)
Boeing pilot involved in Max testing is indicted in Texas

He’s accused of giving the FAA false information about systems that played a role in two deadly crashes.

Traffic drives in view of a massive Boeing Co. production plant, where images of jets decorate the hangar doors, Friday, April 23, 2021, in Everett, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Boeing says workers must get the COVID vaccine by Dec. 8

“Compliance with these requirements is a condition of employment,” says an internal company presentation.

The Boeing 737 Max 10 airplane landing at Boeing Field in Seattle on June 18. (Chona Kasinger / Bloomberg)
Boeing ramps up 737 Max but 787 deliveries are still blocked

Boeing last month maintained its steady trickle of sales as it navigates the aviation downturn.

A handful of Northwest Union Carpenter members picket in front of the new Marysville civic center construction site on the sixth day of a region wide union carpenter strike on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021 in Marysville, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Carpenters strike ends with new contract and a $10 raise

Roughly 500 union members were working on projects in Snohomish County. It was among the largest strikes in 18 years.

FILE - In this March 20, 2020, file photo, the Amazon campus outside the company headquarters in Seattle sits nearly deserted on an otherwise sunny and warm afternoon. Amazon said Monday, Oct. 11, 2021 it will allow many tech and corporate workers to continue working remotely indefinitely, as long as they can commute to the office when necessary. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Amazon to allow employees to work remotely indefinitely

Although most cannot work remotely because their duties include grabbing orders and delivering them.

With new owners demanding the Grand Apartments' longtime residents leave, Stephen Teixeira, 52, documents issues at the Rockefeller Avenue building, on Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021 in Everett, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Life at the Grand Apartments in Everett is now a ‘nightmare’

Longtime residents say the new owner, an investment company, is trying to bully them out of the building.

Bob Martin, 80, owner of the The Stag Barber and Styling in Snohomish. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)
$90,000 fine doesn’t stop defiant Snohomish barber

Bob Martin appealed a state penalty for ignoring coronavirus rules and lost. It has not cut into his business.

A handful of Northwest Union Carpenter members picket in front of the new Marysville civic center construction site on the sixth day of a region wide union carpenter strike on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021 in Marysville, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Carpenters union strikes a deal, and members are set to vote

Workers are back on the job with a tentative agreement that includes a 15.43% raise over three years.

Ryan Welch, a produce clerk, restocks grapes at the Sno-Isle Food Co-op on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett’s Sno-Isle Food Co-op approaches its 25th anniversary

The enterprise hopes to add more square footage and more classroom space to the store on Grand Avenue.