Kuhweide
Co-Autorin: Aleksandra Fuchs

Die Umwelt – Ein Thema, das global gesehen, seit 2019 immer mehr Menschen beschäftigt und oft sogar mehr Sorgen bereitet als zB ihre eigenen Jobs.1 Wir achten darauf weniger Plastik zu verschwenden, weniger zu reisen und möglichst Waren mit langen Transportwegen zu meiden. Ein weiterer, stark diskutierter Punkt ist zudem der enorme Fleischkonsum, der nicht nur schrecklich viele Ressourcen und Land benötigt, sondern auch mehr Wasser- und Luftverschmutzung verursacht als der gesamte Verkehrssektor.
brushes
In times of COVID-19, we are spending a lot of time at home. Some of us feel the desire to give one of the rooms or even the whole flat a new coat. There is only one challenge: From furniture to window frames and indoor walls, whenever something is painted it should dry and harden fast. This is currently being solved by adding so called siccatives, which contain heavy metals such as cobalt, copper or lead. But we all know that these are toxic and harmful to our health and to the environment.

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.

baby diapers

The waste produced using absorbent hygiene products represent nowadays a large fraction of the common public solid waste. In the recent years, baby diapers waste have received a lot of attention due to the high volume produced and the difficult recycling processes. In our daily life disposable diapers are normally dismissed after single use and their usage is preferred over that of cloth diapers since they are more practical. But what about recycling them?

protective suits

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.

symbol picture for ambrein from whale

It is grey, waxy, smelly and very expensive: Ambra, the worlds rarest organic substance, could only be found in the digestive tract of sperm whales. The compound is highly sought after by the perfume industry due to its fragrance fixative properties and distinctive aroma. Biotechnologists found a new biosynthetic pathway to produce the precursor of Ambra, names Ambrein, exactly as it occurs in nature. The findings could revolutionize the perfume industry by making different products eco-friendly.

carbon dioxide emission

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emission is a massive problem for our climate; this is well-known. We urgently need measures to prevent earth from the big collapse. Where do we find them? Biotechnology offers some interesting solutions.

Scheme for switch

Scientists from the Department of Biotechnology at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) Vienna and the Austrian Centre of Industrial Biotechnology (acib) discovered a gene switch in yeast, that was able to change twelve genes – and thereby the metabolic process of yeast as a whole. This work explains evolutionary events that happened more than 120 million years ago. The results have recently been published in the scientific journal Nature Communications and have the potential to be used in the food and feed industry and for the production of bio fuels and new building blocks for bioplastics.