You have ever been in touch with biotechnology? No? We are quite sure that you have been! Many products we find in our household are made with biotechnology. And we didn’t even reach the end of the story! In this article we present the top three sustainable (future) biotech applications for your household:
1. Recycling of baby diapers
A massive amount of waste is caused by our youngest: we produce tons of waste per day by the use of disposable baby diapers. The alternative of cloth diapers is much less convenient. For this reason most babies are diapered with single-use diapers, even though awareness of reducing waste rises. Organic components and moisture are often degraded biologically. The next step is mostly incineration or landfilling. Due to the combination of materials (plastics and cellulose fiber) those disposals are very costly. A complete separation and, thus, the reuse of all components is not yet state-of-the-art.
acib researcher Sara Vecchiato developed a strategy to completely degrade cellulose and plastic fibers enzymatically to valuable new building blocks. For the industrial use, this strategy needs still some optimization but is very promising to mitigate the current disposal situation of diapers.
2. Raise dust for the reuse of tumble drier’s waste
The production of textiles, especially for clothing, is increasing exponentially and so does the waste generation. The textile waste in Europe is numbered with 80000 tons/year! One source of textile waste that is often overseen are the fiber residues from tumble driers. Textiles are made out of various compounds, which leads to a mix of residues. acib envisages an enzyme-based strategy to recover valuable building blocks from a tumble drier mix waste. This includes a technology that fully degrades synthetic and bio-based polymers and composite materials enzymatically and processes to re-use those recovered valuable molecules and make those processes suitable for industrial applications. Thereby a circular economy solution can be created.
3. Potted plants on holidays
We all know the scenario: Coming back from holidays perfectly relaxed and your potted plants look very miserable. A hydrogel that emits water constantly and thereby ensures sufficient humidity for plants that depend on external water supply would be the solution.
This solution is not that far: acib researchers found a method that use waste from paper industry and enzymes to form a biohydrogel. The biohydrogel retains water and optionally fertilizers and is biologically degraded at the end of its life cycle. This approach has also potential for roof greening or agriculture in arid regions and can help to reduce maintenance costs. Thereby, the use of a biohydrogel prevents the pollution of the environment by the chemicals and saves water.
Those introduced biotech applications are all somehow related with waste management. Biotechnology has tools to deal with all types of waste and thereby reducing energy consumption and risks for human and environmental health. Additionally, waste is not equal waste – we just need to rethink our perception of waste and then may find waste material as valuable resource for new applications, products or processes.
Picture credits: Pixabay