As the EU aims to head towards a sustainable, low-carbon future, experts in bio-based industries at the forefront of this transition are turning food waste and waste-water sludge into bioplastics and converting decommissioned factories into new biorefineries by working with local populations.
Finicky eating habits and wasteful processes have led to a system that discards millions of tonnes of food each year, but new approaches are salvaging the scraps we never see to make products that people will want to eat.
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.
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 fashion collection made from the remains of grapes from the wine industry and plastic made from chicken feathers are two new twists on the practice of making new products from waste, and a growing demand for sustainability from consumers mean there could be a ready market for this type of innovation.
‘Radical collaboration’ where multinational companies work together and share data instead of keeping it secret is helping to change the model of the pharmaceutical industry and solve problems more quickly, according to Carlos Moedas, the EU’s commissioner for research, science and innovation.
Milk-based edible food packaging and ready-meal trays made from wood could help reduce the pervasiveness of single-use plastic, a major cause of environmental pollution adversely affecting wildlife, habitats and human health.
Some materials are special not for what they contain, but for what they don’t contain. Such is the case with metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) – ultra-porous structures that are being developed for a variety of future applications from fire-proofing to drug-delivery.
It has implications for autonomous technologies and human collaboration.
New lunar rock analysis provides fuller picture about the origin of water on the moon and on Earth.
We are entering a second era of lunar exploration, says ESA’s Dr David Parker.