Materials World July/August 2020

Waste defines civilisations, a fact long known to archaeologists,’ note members of IOM3’s Sustainable Development Group (SDG) and Resources Strategy Group (RSG) in an article on p40. 

In this issue, we explore opportunities to shape our legacy. We are reminded that this is as much about reducing the amount of waste generated in the first place, as reusing, recycling, remanufacturing and upcycling. The SDG/RSG authors highlight the importance of ‘providing durability through a long service life. Designing recyclable products with a short lifespan is not really in the spirit of the circular economy’. But they note that ‘there is no off-the-shelf recipe’ to embed circular economy design principles into economic and social realities. 

Stella Job, Sustainability Manager at Composites UK, echoes this view on p45. She says, ‘We need to think outside the box and learn to integrate technical/material solutions with sustainable business models…Reducing end-of-life waste requires design to minimise material usage and increase durability, alongside implementing effective maintenance and life extension methodology.’

In this endeavour, there’s scope for learning new skills to design and manufacture for circularity, as well as to repurpose waste. On p24, for example, we learn how a team from The University of Edinburgh is helping students at Khwopa Engineering College, in Nepal, develop reverse-engineering skills. The aim is to fill knowledge gaps to tackle the country’s large volumes of e-waste.

Meanwhile, there is momentum to be gained as our SDG/RSG contributors conclude that ‘COVID-19 has brought the waste sector back to the fore as a critical service protecting public health and the environment’. A silver lining to an incredibly difficult time. Our members are reminded that as some companies continue to make decisions around job cuts, there is support available through the Members Benevolent Trust and free advice from IOM3 on gaining professional accreditation to help bolster CVs for those seeking work.

For now, I hope you enjoy this issue. As securing high quality editorial contributions over the summer period this year will be very challenging, to ensure that the quality of content is not diluted, it has been decided to merge the July and August issues. We will be back with our September issue as planned. Stay safe. 

Rupal Mehta, Editor

News this issue:

Patent of the month - Caesium iodide materials

Get talking - The future for energy materials

Delivering virtual training in unprecedented times

R&D for COVID-19 continues

Kirigami-inspired shoe coating for better surface grip

Smart textiles monitor health on a large scale

A sodium battery that can withstand hundreds of charging cycles

Hot stuff – record melting point for ceramics

Chemical recycling of bioplastics yields new product

Capture this - ultra-thin lenses

A spotlight on self-healing flexible electronics

Perovskite solar cells passes international test

Changing ceramic chemistry with radiation

EU project recovers metal waste

Putting a brave face on dental surgery with bone-graft material

Leaving a good impression with a brushstroke

Features this issue:

Radioactive waste disposal