Sustainable development has since long been at the heart of the European project and the EU Treaties give recognition to its economic, social and environmental dimensions that should be tackled together

Several things have been put into perspective by the events of the past year, which have highlighted the urgency of the climate crisis. Globally, ethically-motivated consumers are increasingly looking towards sustainable start-ups during this period of post-pandemic transition.

From our work habits to how and where we spend our money, the pandemic has prompted us to rethink many aspects of our lives. As we envision a post-pandemic world, it has raised our awareness of environmental issues. Over 60% of consumers say that since the pandemic began in 2020, they have made more environmentally friendly, sustainable, or ethical purchases.

Over the past year, the business world has become increasingly focused on sustainability, with companies such as Unilever and Google declaring significant green commitments by 2020. It appears that eco-friendly products and services may be a key area of growth in the post-pandemic world despite the COVID-19 crunch. Here are five of Europe’s top sustainability pioneers.

  • Oatly – Sweden

Over $38 billion will be generated by the non-dairy milk market by 2024. In recent years, Oatly, a Swedish manufacturer of oat milk, has seen sales soar as ethically-driven consumers seek alternatives to traditional dairy products. In its mission to make healthy joy easy for everyone without recklessly depleting the planet’s resources, the company was founded in the 1990s. Having formed partnerships with major retailers such as Starbucks, this company is one of the biggest names in the plant-based industry. As it prepares to go public on the US stock exchange, it is said to be seeking a valuation of close to $10 billion.

  • EO Charging – the UK

The pandemic has encouraged a reassessment of our transportation usage, as many workers are opting to work from home in 2020. While global car sales fell by about a fifth during the pandemic, electric vehicle sales rose by 43%, indicating a strong demand for eco-friendly vehicles. The need for EV charging infrastructure is becoming increasingly apparent as the demand for electric vehicles grows. EO Charging has sold more than 30,000 electric vehicle charging points in over 30 countries in the five years since its launch. The Financial Times named EO Charging one of the fastest-growing companies in Europe due to its work with high-profile partners like Uber, Sainsbury’s, and Ocado.

  •  Cellugy – Denmark

As the pandemic unfolded, discarded single-use masks became an all-too-common sight, bringing plastic pollution into sharp focus. The Danish start-up Cellugy is committed to helping to end plastic pollution by creating alternative forms of packaging. One of its innovative products, EcoFLEXY, is explicitly designed for packaging. Using recycled food waste, the product is natural, recyclable, and biodegradable. Earlier this year, EcoFLEXY raised €2.38m from the European Innovation Council Accelerator, allowing it to expand production. 

  • RanMarine Technology – Netherlands

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has also contributed to increased marine litter pollution. Plastic waste washes worldwide on beaches, including plastic gloves, single-use masks, and other PPE. RanMarine, a Dutch drone technology company, has developed an innovative waste-clearing device called WasteShark. Each day, the device can clear 500 kilograms of debris from the water – with users able to monitor its progress remotely and control it remotely. This investment will allow the company to scale up its operations beyond 2020. 

  • Meatless Farm – UK

Plant-based foods made their mainstream debut in 2020 after years of unstoppable growth. Kantar found that 13 million consumers have bought meat-free subsidies and dairy-free milk in the UK, marking the first time plant-based foods exceeded £1 billion in sales. Growing demand for plant-based products has boosted the sales of vegan companies such as Meatless Farm. Founder Morten Toft Beach expects the company to reach a $1bn valuation by 2021 after recording £50 million in sales in 2021. If this is achieved, Meatless Farm will become a rare ‘unicorn’ company. As Meatless Farm’s 2020-2021 sales increased by 92% compared to January 2020-2021 is already shaping to be an eventful year.

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