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Upcycled crustacean waste used to create supplements

What’s happening? NUS researchers have developed a process of transforming crustacean waste into L-DOPA, a drug commonly used to treat Parkinson’s disease. The method combines a chemical approach with a biological process to overcome common restraints of traditional waste recycling. A similar process could be applied to turn wood waste into Proline, which could be used to boost healthy cartilage and collagen. Around eight million mt of waste is generated by the food processing industry, including crustacean waste, pruned tree branches and excess sawdust. Upcycling waste from the agricultural and food sectors could produce renewable resources and release pressure from landfills.

Why does this matter? This particular example highlights the potential of upcycling materials typically considered as waste from one industry into a valuable product in another – and there could be implications for corporate waste management more broadly.

Enabled by emerging technologies, the implementation of circular economic principles is advancing and gaining interest. The UK government, for instance, is funding the setup of five Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centres designed to research waste-cutting processes in several industries to reduce overall emissions and conserve natural resources.

Other novel examples of waste materials being put to another use include pineapple leaves, traditionally an agricultural waste product, being turned to as an animal leather alternative for footwear. Another example is naturally found algae being extracted from harmful blooms and transformed into padding for a sustainable backpack range. Elsewhere, recycled e-waste is being used to create “green” poles on which smart technology will be mounted in an urban infrastructure project across Canada.

From a corporate perspective, firms are facing increasing pressure to reduce the amount of waste they produce, and may need to start rethinking investments, pushing them to more dynamic waste management. Some corporates are already moving in this direction. Apple, for example, announced a Zero Waste to Landfill standard for manufacturing plants, as well as launching a disassembly robot to significantly reduce the firm’s e-waste in efforts to reach carbon neutrality by 2030.

Alongside changing consumer attitudes, having robust plans in place for waste materials could later become expected of firms as part of their responsibility to minimise environmental impacts.

Lateral thought from Curation – As corporates look to embed circular initiatives into operations, greater scrutiny will be placed on the effectiveness of and transparency around what firms are claiming in this space. Loop Industries, for example, which signed agreements with major firms such as McDonald’s and Evian for PET recycling schemes, was recently called out over claims that alleged technology breakthroughs are fabricated and were misrepresented to investors.What’s happening? NUS researchers have developed a process of transforming crustacean waste into L-DOPA, a drug commonly used to treat Parkinson’s disease. The method combines a chemical approach with a biological process to overcome common restraints of traditional waste recycling. A similar process could be applied to turn wood waste into Proline, which could be used to boost healthy cartilage and collagen. Around eight million mt of waste is generated by the food processing industry, including crustacean waste, pruned tree branches and excess sawdust. Upcycling waste from the agricultural and food sectors could produce renewable resources and release pressure from landfills.

Why does this matter? This particular example highlights the potential of upcycling materials typically considered as waste from one industry into a valuable product in another – and there could be implications for corporate waste management more broadly.

Enabled by emerging technologies, the implementation of circular economic principles is advancing and gaining interest. The UK government, for instance, is funding the setup of five Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centres designed to research waste-cutting processes in several industries to reduce overall emissions and conserve natural resources.

Other novel examples of waste materials being put to another use include pineapple leaves, traditionally an agricultural waste product, being turned to as an animal leather alternative for footwear. Another example is naturally found algae being extracted from harmful blooms and transformed into padding for a sustainable backpack range. Elsewhere, recycled e-waste is being used to create “green” poles on which smart technology will be mounted in an urban infrastructure project across Canada.

From a corporate perspective, firms are facing increasing pressure to reduce the amount of waste they produce, and may need to start rethinking investments, pushing them to more dynamic waste management. Some corporates are already moving in this direction. Apple, for example, announced a Zero Waste to Landfill standard for manufacturing plants, as well as launching a disassembly robot to significantly reduce the firm’s e-waste in efforts to reach carbon neutrality by 2030.

Alongside changing consumer attitudes, having robust plans in place for waste materials could later become expected of firms as part of their responsibility to minimise environmental impacts.

Lateral thought from Curation – As corporates look to embed circular initiatives into operations, greater scrutiny will be placed on the effectiveness of and transparency around what firms are claiming in this space. Loop Industries, for example, which signed agreements with major firms such as McDonald’s and Evian for PET recycling schemes, was recently called out over claims that alleged technology breakthroughs are fabricated and were misrepresented to investors.

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Katie Chan

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