Our research group is indeed, going a step further, combining organic and inorganic waste as feedstock to treat these different types of waste by a single treatment system. It is difficult for people to think of their waste as anything other than disposable. In developing the value of waste materials through biorefining, we hope to shift industrial production cycles towards a more circular model.
An Accelerated Transition
Across the globe, different sectors are working and advocating for sustainable development, and great progress has been made in meeting the UN SDGs. Still, the pace at which the actions are carried out needs to be accelerated. The transitions from a linear to a circular economy in particular, and from a fossil-resource to bio-based economy, are still in their infancy – mostly under the research stage. What can we do to accelerate these transitions? Firstly, we need an action plan to promote cross-country collaboration through technology transfer to create mutual benefits and momentum. Secondly, links between industry and academia need to be further nurtured to envision the future of sustainable development.
The urgency of these transitions to address climate change and at the same time, to stimulate our economy, are now recognised at all levels in our country, as indicated in the recent Impact 2030 report on Ireland’s research and innovation strategy. This report also highlights exciting new funding mechanisms for research (mission-oriented and challenge-based funding). Initiatives like these will play a key role in making research and innovation activities more accessible to policymakers, enterprise and citizens. With the right support, accessibility of research and international collaboration, we are well on our way to making the circular economy a reality.
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