Tag Archives: technology

Plastics in labs: from waste management to management of resources

posted on July 29, 2014

The use of plastics in laboratories is often regarded as a factor contributing to pollution-derived damages in natural environments; the reasons pointed are the inefficient current disposable methods and the difficulties associated with effective recycling of a wide variety of consumables, some of which contaminated. Critics say it is ironic that research performed to better understand and protect nature and living beings can lead to such negative impact on ecosystems. Pollution originated form laboratories has finally become a serious matter of debate and new solutions for sustainable use of consumables and correct waste disposal are required. The MIT‘s initiative Working Green at MIT – Green Your Lab is one such example and it is highly significant that most Institutes, Hospitals and Universities share the same concerns. The Health and Safety Offices are usually the places to go for more information on the waste disposal policies of Science-oriented Institutions.

But can we go as far as to turn plastics into assets? The future is now and the answer is definitely yes. Old plastics can turn into new and valuable materials. It’s not recycling as we know it; these processes resemble re-making. Below I have compiled a list of companies – only a few examples, it is not a comprehensive list at all –  that are expected to contribute with bright solutions to a more eco-friendly use of plastics. Or at least so they are claiming (you can decide by yourself if you believe those approaches are the way forward; then please share your thoughts with us!). The new solutions are clever, technologically advanced, and… based on research performed in labs. More irony: it seems as if plastic has contributed to refinements in its own life cycle.

If the near future can bring Green lab consumables, these will lead to Green research, which can then be oriented towards Green discoveries.



Plastics in labs can be a source of pollution or become a source of energy through the use of newly developed “recycling” strategies. Credits: http://instagram.com/scienceisherenow


Agilyx –  this company is expected to have” a significant impact in the reduction of the disposal of non-recyclable waste plastics, while creating a new source of domestic energy” by “converting previously non-recyclable and low value waste plastics into crude oil”;

Cynar – contributing to the European Union’s objective to achieve Zero Plastics to Landfill by 2020, Cynar claims that the “conversion of waste plastics to useable fuels” is the “alternative and complementary technology to existing waste management technologies”;

RES Polyflow – focusing on renewable energy, this company “makes energy products from difficult to recycle polymer and rubber waste that is destined for landfills or incineration” using “patented fuel conversion equipments” so that landfilled “plastic waste is reduced significantly”;

NIKE – yes, the sports giant has used state-of-the-art recycling technology in its bottles-to-T-shirts operation: for the just finished 2014 World Cup “An average of 9 recycled bottles emerged as a 2014 National Team Jersey”.

World Population Day – Solar Decathlon

This post is part of the World Population Day series. You can find the other stories here and here.

Urban Population boom is a challenge all over the world. The United Nations Population Division estimates that two-thirds of the population will be living in cities by the year 2050. In particular, rapid urbanization will take place in Africa and Asia, which can be regarded as an opportunity for improving life conditions in many countries.

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Urban population is increasing fast. Massive changes are on the way regarding the way people live and cities evolve. New sustainable developments are required in the near future. Credits: http://instagram.com/scienceisherenow

To deal with the demand for new and sustainable developments, a very interesting building competition took place in the US some yers ago and has now a new edition, this time on the outskirts of Paris: The Solar Decathlon. Universities from all over the world have built full-scale solar-powered houses to be presented to juries and the public. The 2014 Solar Decathlon competition is taking place in Verasilles, France, with a focus on six different issues concerning sustainability: density, mobility, sobriety, innovation, affordability and local context. The competition section open to the public started on the 28th of June and will end on the 14th of July (tomorrow); meanwhile, winning teams have been announced for each of the ten awards, which include for example “Urban Design, Transportation and Affordability”, “Energy Efficiency” or “Comfort Conditions”, amongst others. For the final decisions, the juries had to bear in mind that renewable energy supplies are required, but more importantly that the demand for energy should be controlled and limited. Also, the rules of the contest point to the need for affordability, which should “remain the key issue for applicable sustainable urban solutions”. Check the video below with a report from this year’s Solar Decathlon Competition:




Word of the year 2013: Not “selfie” but also starting with S…


Science the top 1 word of 2013 according to Merriam-Webster dictionaries.

While Oxford Dictionaries have chosen selfie as the word of the year, the Merriam-Webster dictionaries used quite different criteria to establish their 2013 word top and the winner is science. Why so many of us were interested in science during the past year has been a matter of intense discussion in the past couple of days. But one of the major distinguishing traits of science is that it is future-focused above all; so should we have even higher expectations for 2014?


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Synthetic DNA fossils

Synthetic DNA fossils have been created but what can we expect from this new tool?

IMG_2354Protocols are for researchers what cookbooks are for Chefs: for some, scratchy notes; for others, the Bible. Just like a Chef who expects to end up with a great desert when following his favorite Creme Brulee recipe, scientists perform protocols with particular aims in mind. Except for… – what can a protocol for making synthetic DNA fossils be used for?

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