Businesses and consumers need to stop thinking of products as things to own and move towards a culture of sharing and repairing if we are to fulfil the ambition of creating a circular economy, according to Felipe Maya, project and innovation manager at sustainable engineering firm Exergy, headquartered in Coventry, UK.
The most cost-effective climate change actions are also those that could help us achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs) such as ending poverty and hunger, according to Dr Keywan Riahi, director of the energy program of the International Institute Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria, who says the first step should be to cut our energy demand.
Research suggests that where we live can affect our mental health but Dr Marco Helbich, an urban geographer at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, believes these studies only offer a limited snapshot of our lives. Using a smartphone app and register data, he is tracking people through their daily routines and their residential history to see whether mental health is affected by where we live, work and socialise. His findings could change how we design our cities.
From about 245 to 66 million years ago, dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Although well-preserved skeletons give us a good idea of what they looked like, the way their limbs worked remains a bigger mystery. But computer simulations may soon provide a realistic glimpse into how some species moved and inform work in fields such as robotics, prosthetics and architecture.
Thousands of soiled nappies that were destined to clog Italian landfill sites or incinerators are being redirected to a recycling plant that is turning them into streams of high quality raw materials, in a new process that it is hoped will be replicated around Europe.
Seaweed has long been touted for its potential as a sustainable ingredient for biofuels, green chemicals and biodegradable materials, but scaling up production to industrial levels in a way that maintains its environmental credentials is proving a real challenge for scientists.
A group of chemicals known as bi-metallics could help the pharmaceutical industry become more environmentally friendly by cutting the amount of energy used to produce drugs, according to Professor Eva Hevia from the University of Strathclyde, UK, who says that sustainability is a top priority for chemists.
Recent advances in kidney research have yielded dramatic headlines touting scientists’ ability to grow kidneys in the lab. But some experts worry that hype about tissue engineering is excessively raising patients’ hopes.
Dumped waste, from used nappies to industrial by-products, have long wound up in landfills and can take hundreds of years to decay. In October we speak to the scientists figuring out how to keep such items in use to reduce rubbish and create a so-called circular economy. We learn about new efforts to mine industrial waste for the rare metals that go into making aircraft parts, pacemakers and bicycle gears, and find out about the culture shift needed to develop a zero-waste society. We also speak to the researchers building a biorefinery to turn soiled nappies into fertilisers and raw materials, and look at whether seaweed could become the next plastic.
A circular economy needs new business models and reusable products, says Felipe Maya.
The first step in limiting global warming should be curbing energy demand, says Dr Keywan Riahi.
Professor Eva Hevia talks about chemistry’s green movement.