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STEAM – A Driver of a Circular Economy

STEAM – Driver of Circular Economy

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The world needs to shift away from the traditional linear economy towards a circular economy; one where food, energy and materials are produced and consumed sustainably and all by-products and waste recycled or re-used.  The convergence of expertise and knowledge in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM), coupled with life-cycle thinking, presents humanity with a unique opportunity to equitably advance society while combating the degradation of our planet.

On 9 May 2019, Dr Lerwen Liu and her team from STEAM Platform at KMUTT, Thailand demonstrated the unique “first principle” approach in educating others about  Industry 4.0 and the Circular Economy through examples of research and innovation carried out by young scientists in KMUTT.

Mr Arslan Siddique, Project Manager and Chief Technology Analyst at STEAM Platform, first compared a linear economy, which is not sustainable, to the circular economy, where resources are either saved or put back into the production chain. With the global population rapidly growing, it is important to utilise waste by putting it back in the chain to create the products needed.

Currently, the circular economy is a hot topic globally. Malaysia-based CircularEconomyAsia asserts that when assessing a business, we have to first determine whether it is circular economy-ready or not. STEAM Platform focusses particularly on promoting sustainable practices in the Asian region because, according to Asian Development Bank (ADB) 2050 forecast, seven Asian countries will hold 45% of global GDP, which includes Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

An important factor driving the circular economy is the embrace of new technology such as nanotechnology, biotechnology and IT, further fuelled by its integration with smart technology such as the Internet of Things, robotics and augmented reality, among others.

Dr Liu discussed how to relate business models with the circular economy and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To Dr Liu, connecting production and consumption, and linking them to the circular economy and SDGs should be personal, because all of us are consumers. Every time we consume something, we are making an impact so we must all be responsible for our consumption on a personal level.

The talk also included two case studies, the first of which was presented by Mr Podsawat Worakuldumrongdej from STEAM Platform. He spoke about his thesis on the food shortage crisis, how the Rice Seed Sowing Drone can help farmers improve production and his proposed business model, which involves a strong private and public partnership. Ms Panitsara Nakseemok, Program Manager at STEAM Platform, presented the second case study on the centralised and localised business model designs for converting cassava waste into ethanol.

In addition, besides focussing their attention on developing youth leaders in Southeast Asia, the STEAM Platform endeavours to equip them with STEAM skills that allow them to thrive in a world quickly moving away from a Linear to a Circular Economy.

View scenes from the event in the gallery below.

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