Waste Material Utilization and Valorization
Waste is a human-centered concept. In Nature there is, for all practical purposes, no waste. In Nature, organisms and geo-systems evolve to utilize the “waste” of one process to nourish, sustain, and strengthen another. While the history of human-designed chemical systems has been linear (e.g., take-make-waste), there is a recognition that genuine elegance requires the building of circular systems where materials and energy flow in cycles as they do in Nature. This would require the developing the tools, techniques, and approaches for “designing waste” such that the “waste” itself is considered an additional product of the system.
These approaches of chemical waste valorization have found large-scale application in a variety of settings from individual product manufacturing processes to entire mega-scale factories to urban and regional networks. Transforming waste into a value-added product is a science in its infancy and it will need to develop considerably in sophistication and scale in order to displace the wasteful linear processes that have historically dominated.