Better biodegradables: taking ‘going green’ to a whole new level

By Michelle Dookwah, University of Georgia, USA

“Where should I put my recycling?” – a common phrase I’ll hear a house guest ask if they can’t spot the recycling bin in my kitchen. But unfortunately, this question is posing a larger problem when put in the context of a global scale. Recent changes in China’s policies for accepting plastic waste for recycling is leaving the UK facing the challenge of what to do with half a million tonnes of plastic waste. And this isn’t an issue only faced in Europe; these new restrictions leave the US with massive quantities of plastic waste to deal with as well.

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Your scales look awfully fishy

By Paulo Szwarc, Federal University of Paraná, Brazil

Following the Oscars 2018 Best Picture award to Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, a weird thought probably navigates our minds: what if we had scales instead of skin? No? Maybe it’s just a crazy thought I had while observing the movie’s creepy yet astonishing “monster”, an amphibian/fish-looking humanoid looking straight out of a Lovecraft story. But let’s delve deeper into that idea, just for fun. Fish have scales for protection against other predators, offering a resistant layer that can impede easy biting from bigger fish.

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Plant-based biomaterials: engineering the future

By Emily May Armstrong, University of Glasgow

Currently, there’s a massive drive toward improving, creating, and manufacturing cheap and safe alternatives to traditional, mammalian-based biomaterials. Biomaterials take many forms: solid inert scaffolds, decellularized ghost organs, hydrogels, pastes, and powders. This is where plants come in, our photosynthetic friends are diverse, adaptable, and cheap to grow – making them perfect candidates for novel biomaterial production.

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