Collaborating constructively for sustainable biotechnology

Title: Collaborating constructively for sustainable biotechnology
Format: Journal Article
Publication Date: December 2019
Published In: Scientific Reports
Publisher Nature Research

Tackling the pressing sustainability needs of society will require the development and application of new technologies. Biotechnology, emboldened by recent advances in synthetic biology, offers to generate sustainable biologically-based routes to chemicals and materials as alternatives to fossil-derived incumbents. Yet, the sustainability potential of biotechnology is not without trade-offs. Here, we probe this capacity for sustainability for the case of bio-based nylon using both deliberative and analytical approaches within a framework of Constructive Sustainability Assessment. We highlight the potential for life cycle CO2 and N2O savings with bio-based processes, but report mixed results in other environmental and social impact categories. Importantly, we demonstrate how this knowledge can be generated collaboratively and constructively within companies at an early stage to anticipate consequences and to inform the modification of designs and applications. Application of the approach demonstrated here provides an avenue for technological actors to better understand and become responsive to the sustainability implications of their products, systems and actions.

Ivan Allen College Contributors:
External Contributors: Nicholas E Matthews, Carrie A. Cizauskas, Donovan S. Layton, Laurence Stamford

Matthews NE, Cizauskas CA, Layton DA, Stamford L, Shapira P. Collaborating constructively for sustainable biotechnology. Scientific Reports, 2019, 9, 19033.

  • Energy, Climate and Environmental Policy
  • Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy
Related File: Collaborating-Constructively-for-Sustainable-Biotech-SR-2019.pdf
Related Departments:
  • School of Public Policy