Universities around the world are increasingly turning their attention to the challenges facing societies. Solving the problem of plastic waste and pollution is no exception. When a group of students, researchers and professors put their mind to a scientific challenge, the result can be a spectacular breakthrough. In many cases, these innovations go on to become full-fledged startups and create tremendous value.
Many promising projects require long term funding to go from lab to commercial scale. This is complicated in the academic world by the transitory nature of students on campuses and the lack of an efficient capital market for such innovations. At Ubuntoo, we have started listing university innovations at concept or research stage in the hope that some of them will find supporters within our community.
In this week’s edition of your Ubuntoo Digest, we focus on sustainability changemakers in Universities and their solutions for a plastic circular economy. Just click the links below or use your Ubuntoo login to browse our solutions as you read this newsletter. And feel free to forward this email to your friends and colleagues.
Student innovation projects benefit from the creativity and cross-discipline exposure that most university campuses provide. Add to that the ability to start from a clean slate without the constraints of “conventional wisdom” that prevails in established industries, and you can get out of the box ideas. Here is a sampler of University led projects and innovations that are featured on Ubuntoo. Just type “University” in the search bar to see all of them.
- Innovative Bioplastics from Organic Waste: A team from Harvard’s Wyss Institute has developed a bioplastic from shrimp shells and silk protein. A doctoral student at the University of Boras in Sweden is developing a technology to make bioplastics from fruit waste.
- Solutions for Hard to Recycle Waste: A startup initiated in collaboration with Eindhoven University of Technology has launched a technology to recycle HDPE containing oily residues. The University of Edinburgh has spun off a startup thatconverts difficult-to-recycle waste such as coffee cups with a low carbon technology. Another technology is magnetic separation of mixed plastic waste by Umincorp, a spinoff from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.
- Microbes to the Rescue: A professor from University of Portsmouth in England is collaborating on a plastic eating enzyme and a doctoral student from University of Bolzano in Italy is developing disposable tableware from microbial cellulose.
Please check out our new look Newsfeed and try the more powerful search feature. Just enter a keyword, company or country, and search through thousands of news articles over the past 3 years. Here is a selection of news articles that caught our attention last week:
- After several days of negotiations at the United Nations Environment Program meeting in Geneva, 180 countries (excluding the US unfortunately) have agreed to a plastic waste agreement.
- GreenBiz covered the rise of plant-based plastic packaging.
- In Scotland, the government has outlined its plans for a deposit return scheme(DRS) for used drinking containers, cans and glass.
- Researchers at the US Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have designed a new kind of plastic polymer that is claimed to be endlessly recyclable.
We recommend watching this inspiring video if you haven't yet, made by WWF featuring Sir David Attenborough that explains how humans can take charge of our future and save our planet.
“Look to the past to help create the future. Look to science and to poetry. Combine innovation and interpretation. We need the best of both. And it is universities that best provide them.”
– Drew Gilpin Faust, 28th President of Harvard