Four University of Helsinki based research groups working with circular economy present currently their circular economy solutions at the World Circular Economy Forum EXPO 2019 in Helsinki (3-4, May, 2019). The science-based circular economy solutions exhibited at the stand include microbiological and biotechnological solutions, future prospects of Finnish forest-based circular bioeconomy, and an educational approach to circular economy. At the EXPO, HELSUS and Aalto Sustainability Hub jointly host a stand to facilitate the presentation of this newest research to the more than 2,000 practitioners attending the Forum.
- ”This is an excellent way to join forces with Aalto University and showcase the research that is being done on circular economy. Solid research is the key to the material and social innovations that are needed for radically new ways of doing and achieving a sustainability transition” says Anne Toppinen, Director of HELSUS.
The Fungco-research group, led by University lecturer, Dr. Taina Lundell, has succeeded in developing a new, low-tech, adjustable and biological conversion method to better utilize the valuable plant-based raw materials provided as wastes and side-streams by agriculture, forestry and wood-based industry, and communities. Besides bioethanol, the low-cost application provides a range of valuable natural compounds and sugars from the plant residual biomasses and lignocellulosic wastes, which are abundant and currently mainly burned for production of bioenergy. By the aid of organic carbon cycling by fungi, more value is gained from waste, and CO2 release is mitigated.
The Forest based Bioeconomy and Business FBBS-research group, led by Prof. Anne Toppinen, contributes to the increased understanding of drivers and barriers for sustainability transition and more specifically reveal insights to the role of specific policy instruments for sustainable development, sustainable consumption, and future prospects of circular bioeconomy.
Principal Investigator Dr. Merja Kontro’s group develop solutions to exploit organic waste, such as sludge, straw, wood and food residues in various ways. They can act as raw material for bio-based, biodegradable and compostable products, such as plastics, and in biogas production. Additionally, phosphorus and ammonia recovery from wastewater sludge can be recycled into fertilizers. Finally, as waste material is a huge reservoir of microbial genetic capacity, there exists great potential for their utilization in the production of valuable high-value compounds, useful e.g. as antibiotics.
Despite that education for sustainability is one of the key value in Finnish national core curriculum for basic education, there is a lack of innovations in education practices towards that aim. The group of Assoc. prof. Kalle Juuti presents an educational solution, where teacher students and practicing teachers co-design a teaching unit where pupils are guided to make circular economy inventions and thus learn sustainability competences. Circular economy is addressed through four shifts: “from trach to resource”, “from goods to services”, from owning to sharing”, and “from disposable to mending”. The course includes defining problems in current activities at school, generating several ideas to solve the problem, to making concept and getting feedback, and finally presenting the invention to solve the original problem.
For more information about the projects, come to see us at the EXPO, or contact the individual researchers directly!
Paula Schönach / HELSUS
Paula.firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: +358-50-3199 402
More info from the research groups’ work: