In the process of developing sustainable materials and processes, biotechnology draws from millions of years of evolution in which living beings have specialized in producing and recycling all kinds of compounds and materials.
Fremont, CA: Climate change threats are no more fear for the future. It is here now, and its impact is already being experienced across the globe. The question is now for the survival of the human race. Industries are now looking up to biology for solutions to make aspects of lives more sustainable for the environment. Many biotechnology companies are now rising to this challenge. In the process of developing sustainable materials and processes, biotechnology draws from millions of years of evolution in which living beings have specialized in producing and recycling all kinds of compounds and materials. These processes can be used to replace the polluting chemical methods existing today, allowing us to efficiently break down waste and produce new materials with lower pollution, land, water, and energy use.
Here are a few areas where biotechnology has already made a considerable impact.
Plastics are one of the major pollutants of the environment. They are one of the greatest threats that humanity faces today. Both the waste from petrochemical plastic production plants and the many tonnes of non-biodegradable plastic that is thrown away daily are enormous problems for the environment. New technologies to incorporate biology in the production of plastics could offer a more sustainable alternative. Many companies, like Coca Cola, are already using bioplastics to deliver their products.
Stronger and more sustainable detergents are one of the earliest applications of industrial biotechnology. Enzymatic detergents were sold as early as the 60s by Danish biotech giant Novozymes. It consisted of specialized enzymes obtained from microorganisms that can break down molecules behind difficult stains, such as blood and fat. Unlike chemical alternatives, these were biodegradable. Newer generations of enzymatic detergents have proven to be more productive and are now capable of working at lower temperatures.
Certain microorganisms can break down agricultural or forestry waste to produce fuels. More and more companies are now going back to this trend that was prevalent earlier. French company Global Bioenergies is working with Audi to produce gasoline from sustainable sources.
The meat industry is a significant polluting factor. Biotechnology could significantly reduce the use of land, water and energy use by growing meat without the animal, directly from muscle and fat cells. Importantly, this cultured meat would also reduce the use of antibiotics in meat production as it can be created in sterile lab conditions.
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