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20 May 2024

Advancements in the Bio-degradation of Plastic Waste into Value-added Chemicals: A Recent Perspective

Plastics are an essential component of modern life, but the plastic waste has caused significant environmental pollution and economic losses. The effective solution to these problems is the biodegradation and high-value conversion of plastic waste. After biodegradation, plastic waste is broken into smaller molecules and eventually transformed into innocuous substances like water, carbon dioxide and biomass. High-value conversion enables plastic waste to be converted into products with higher economic value and environmental friendliness. Based on this, we summarize the biodegradation methods of bioplastics and analyze the shortage of these methods. Subsequently, we summarize the progress of converting the degradation products into value-added chemicals, comprehensively analyze the advantages and disadvantages of these bioconversion process, and propose some strategies to address these disadvantages. Finally, we analyze the significance of establishing a microbial-based conversion process that integrates the degradation and the conversion, and propose some potential strategies.

Keywords: Bioplastics; Bioconversion; Biodegradation


02 April 2024

Mapping the (in)Effective Enforcement of EU Environmental Law in Greece: Lessons from the EU and Domestic Courts

The effective implementation and enforcement of EU environmental law at national level constitutes a thorny issue with both legal and practical aspects. Greece is among the EU Member States which has historically faced difficulties in complying with the EU environmental acquis due to the poor functioning of the Greek administration, the limited manpower, expertise and resources (especially during the recent period of the economic crisis) for the competent authorities, the lack of political will, the low awareness of environmental problems. In this context, this paper aspires to unpack these enforcement challenges at the national level based on the case law of both the Greek Council of State and the Court of Justice of the European Union. Considering that waste management, nature protection, and water and air quality sectors are recognized as areas with the most significant deficiencies in implementation at the domestic level, the analysis will focus on these four key sectors.  To this end, by reviewing the relevant EU and Greek jurisprudence, this paper aspires to identify the disparities between the formal requirements and the practical application of EU environmental regulations in Greece in light of the national political, economic, social, and cultural dynamics. 

Keywords: Compliance; Biodiversity; Water; Waste; Air pollution; EU green deal; Environmental law; Greece; Case law


13 March 2023

Reduced Climate Impacts of Dairy Sludge Management by Introducing Hydrothermal Carbonization

Dairies which produce cheese and milk products can, however, produce large volumes of wastewater that require treatment, usually via activated sludge treatment. Disposal of the resulting activated sludge to land is viewed favorably as the sludge is rich in phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) and enables nutrient recycling. Nonetheless, sludge management can significantly influence the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to the atmosphere. This manuscript has modelled the GHG emissions arising from two sludge management strategies currently adopted by Danish dairies whereby: (i) sludge is stored and later applied to fields; or (ii) sludge is treated by anaerobic digestion (AD), stored, and the digestate will later be applied to fields. This is compared to (iii) an alternative sludge management strategy with treatment by Hydrothermal Carbonization (HTC). HTC is a technologically simple sludge treatment that could lower the cost for dewatering dairy sludge, forming a biochar-like material known as hydrochar. The produced hydrochar can be applied to the land for the purpose of carbon sequestration, P and N recycling. Our calculations indicate that GHG balances of HTC sludge management can result in a net carbon sequestration of 63 kg CO2eq per ton sludge, as opposed to net emissions of 420 and 156 kg CO2eq per ton sludge for strategies (i) and (ii), therefore offering significant reductions GHG emissions for the dairy sector.

Keywords: Hydrothermal carbonization; Fertilizer; Biosolids; Sludge management; Sludge disposal; Sludge dewatering; Greenhouse gas emissions; Dairy waste