The Future is Garbage: Waste Biomass as a Renewable Feedstock

Organizers: Tony Bova, CEO, mobius, Knoxville, TN, US; Anna Zhenova, MS, Ph.D. Student, University of York, York, UK

The desire for a “clean” feedstock stream is a common crutch for chemists, often leading us to ignore an abundant, energy-advantaged renewable feedstock: organic waste. This half-day symposium will highlight current and emerging trends in organic waste valorization, and welcomes presentations from researchers, engineers, entrepreneurs, and educators across all spheres. Topics could include processing of organic waste, conversion of industrial biomass, municipal, or water waste streams to mixed and single-stream feedstocks, commercialization of emerging waste-to-chemical and waste-to-material technologies, and the development of educational curricula around organic waste valorization and integrated biorefinery design. The presentations will demonstrate that a future where waste is a valuable resource is already emerging.

Practice gaps to be highlighted and addressed in this symposium:

  • Waste as a Resource – The World Bank projects post-consumer urban organic waste production of 2.4 million tons per day by 2025. This number easily doubles with the inclusion of pre-consumer organic waste. Using pre- and post-consumer waste as a feedstock reduces energy usage, land usage, and landfill load. From agricultural byproducts to restaurant waste, this session invites presentations from researchers making trash into treasure.
  • Industrial Relevance – Effective chemical technologies for the valorization of organic waste must be able to exist outside of the laboratory. However, many chemists are not involved in seeing their technologies beyond the laboratory scale. This symposium invites presentations that will offer insight for the effective demonstration of commercial viability for waste-to-value chemistries through the use of case studies from successful startups or partnerships between academia and industry.
  • Education – Green chemistry education is critical to helping the next generation of chemists develop the right mindset. This session invites presentations to highlight emerging trends in incorporation of waste valorization into chemistry education.