The COVID-19 crisis is currently affecting all of us and all eyes are set at the scientific community that is eager to find a drug or a vaccine against the virus as soon as possible. Furthermore, the European Commission has launched the Green Deal concept which includes a research budget within the Horizon 2020 program of 1 billion Euro! Let’s conclude from these two recent examples: Science is important for all of us to move forward and to find solutions to meet the big challenges of our planet. In other words: science affects all of us and life is science!
Plastic waste management has become a challenge for our planet. Mankind produces 27.1 million tons per year of plastic waste and only 31.1% can be recycled! More than 65% are landfilled or incinerated. These huge amount of waste comes along with CO2 emissions of 6.7 million tons per year.
To counteract to these numbers, the project ENZYCLE was launched: it looks for new processes to treat and to recycle plastic fractions that nowadays cannot be recycled. It mainly addresses multilayer packaging, PET trays and clamshell containers and microplastics in waste water. Therefore, the project aims to reduce the amount of plastics that ends up in soil and the oceans.
Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has turned the whole world upside down. After weeks of curfew to relieve the national health care systems, the economic impact becomes more and more perceptible: We are facing a substantial crisis. The only way out of this misery is finding a) an effective drug for the treatment of COVID-19 or b) a safe vaccine, which prevents us from a Coronavirus infection.
Automation is the future of numerous processes – not only in our everyday life but also in more specialized areas such as bioprocessing. Researchers are eager to find solutions in order to replace routine steps by automated process sections. This gives them the opportunity to spend the gained time on more meaningful things: thinking about new innovations!
We are living in a throwaway society; this is also true for clothes. When we think of the personal protective equipment for work safety such as mechanically robust and fire resistant clothes, it makes sense that they also have an expiration date. But that does not mean that also the ingredients have lost their functionality. Usually, these compounds have been produced with considerable energy effort, thus, it reasonable to find an efficient recycling method.
A new development in the European framework programs for research and innovation is catching attention: the lump sum pilot. First implementations are in progress already in Horizon 2020 and intensified for the next framework program Horizon Europe. What does it mean for the research community and which changes do we expect?