Unleashing Innovation For a Healthy Planet

Revolutionizing the World Through Bioproduct Engineering and Green Innovations

by Prof. Ts. Dr. Ida Idayu Muhamad  
& Dr Azlin Abd Jamil

Sustainability begins with loving, learning, and protecting what matters most,” says Prof. Dr. Ida Idayu Muhamad from the Department of Bioprocess & Polymer Engineering at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM).

Imagine a world where science isn’t confined to laboratories but permeates every aspect of our daily lives, shaping a future where innovation meets sustainability head-on. This is the realm of bioproduct engineering—an arena where boundaries are not merely pushed but completely redefined. With a focus on eco-friendly solutions to global challenges, bioproduct engineering is spearheading the movement towards a more sustainable tomorrow.

In recent years, we’ve witnessed an unprecedented shift towards global sustainability, driven by the surge of eco-tech innovations and advancements in bioproduct engineering. In seizing this pivotal moment, we will share some experiences about the impact of these developments on communities worldwide. By fostering a deeper understanding and inspiring collective action towards environmental stewardship, we hope to cultivate a culture of innovation and collaboration, paving the way for a greener, more sustainable future.

Empowering Eco-Tech, for a Healthier Planet and Prosperous Communities
Yes, eco-tech innovations and bioproduct engineering are encouraging more environmentally friendly practices across all fields. This means smaller carbon footprints, less trash, and the protection of natural resources. This is very important for keeping the ecosystems and species on Earth healthy. Not only that, using sustainable practices gives us the power to become stronger and more self-sufficient. Communities can control their environmental effect and shape their economic future through local programmes that focus on waste management, renewable energy, and farming methods that are good for the environment.

Since sustainable methods often lead to cleaner air, water, and environments, which is good for people’s health and well-being, consequently, less pollution and easier access to healthy foods both lead to fewer illnesses and a better quality of life. The move towards sustainability also opens up new business possibilities, such as green jobs in the recycling and renewable energy industries, as well as the creation of new eco-friendly goods and services. This can help the economy grow and lower inequality by giving people in underserved areas the chance to work and start their businesses.
At least, the growing focus on sustainability makes it easier for businesses, governments, nonprofits, and communities around the world to share what they know and work together. This is important because we need to solve global issues like climate change and a lack of resources, together!

Catalyzing Innovation for Sustainable Development in Malaysia
We understand there’s still a long way to go before Malaysians recognise the importance of this concern and come up with innovative approaches to achieve sustainable development. The utilization of natural compounds produced by microorganisms, plants, and animals is one example of a recent development that has come to light.

According to Prof. Ida Idayu, the field of bioproduct engineering must consider more than just the physical aspects of a problem. As serving one’s community is important in our lives, she is relentless in her pursuit of social justice, transforming what normal engineers do into ways that make life better for everyone—the environment, the community at large, and many more aspects. In common parlance, these ideas relate to ESG principles, where each action must be ecologically friendly and socially responsible, producing a healthy impact on the environment and the people within it.

Ensuring food safety and security is a critical area where bioproduct engineering plays a vital role. The creation of novel intellectual properties through bioproduct engineering highlights its significance, especially in enhancing food safety. This is evident at UTM, where researchers invest significant time and effort in tackling challenges like reducing food waste, extending shelf life, and detecting & preventing microbial contamination. These efforts have resulted in innovative solutions, including the integration of active-smart biopolymers into food packaging materials. As a result, this innovative approach not only enhances food safety but also strengthens the industry by introducing a variety of novel packaging materials designed to effectively preserve food commodities.

One aspect worth highlighting is how beneficial innovations can enhance the lives and livelihoods of people in economically disadvantaged areas where access to healthy food is limited. This is particularly crucial in regions facing food shortages. With such innovations, we have the potential to alleviate the annual burden of food-borne infections, saving millions of lives and enhancing overall quality of life. These advancements have the potential to spare countless lives and make a significant impact.

On the flip side, bioproduct engineering has ramifications that go beyond just making sure food is safe to eat. From biodegradable plastics that lessen pollution in the ocean to environmentally responsible farming practices that maintain soil health and biodiversity, the list of possible positive changes is almost endless. These are just a few of the available choices. New, more morally grounded criteria for technological innovation are being sought after by both businesses and academics. Concepts of environmental, social, and governance governance are given greater weight in the development of these standards. These findings disprove the notion that sustainability and profit are inherently at odds with one another.

Bioproduct engineering stands as a guiding light amidst challenging circumstances, offering transformative solutions for a brighter future. In regions where access to fundamental necessities like healthcare, clean water, and electricity is precarious, the innovations stemming from bioproduct engineering promise to be life-changing. By harnessing the power of nature and technology, this field holds the key to enhancing the well-being of numerous individuals while safeguarding our precious environment for future generations. Embracing bioproduct engineering not only ensures a more sustainable and economical path forward but also fosters inclusive progress that benefits society as a whole.

Investigating the far-reaching consequences of bioproduct engineering on the international innovation system and its fundamental societal advantages would be a groundbreaking endeavor. A more equitable and better future is within reach, thanks to the innovations that scientists and inventors are making possible by finding ways to use nature’s resources to address some of the world’s most pressing problems. The increasing gravity of the world’s problems is elevating this phenomenon to the forefront of public consciousness. This means that the amount of good that can be achieved is practically limitless, provided that we adhere to the principles of sustainability and environmental care. Bioproducts and environmentally friendly ideas can be created through collaborative effort, and we can use these to make the world a better place.

Let’s unite to forge a future where innovative ideas spell success for all, one step at a time!

Prof. Ts. Dr Ida Idayu is a Professor at the Department of Bioprocess and Polymer Engineering, Faculty of Chemical and Energy Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. Currently she is a senate member of the university and fellow of the Academy Science of Malaysia. She was the chair of Research Ethics Committee, served as chairman of the Scientific Advisors also head of Biomaterial Cluster for the IJN-UTM Cardiovascular Engineering Centre and director of the Bioprocess Engineering Department (2010-2013, 2015-2017). She was the recipient of Top Research Scientist Malaysia (TRSM). Her research activities resulted in more than 20 intellectual properties, numerous awards, supervision of more than 40 post-graduates, and post-doctorates, high impact peer-reviewed publications and edited books. She conducted multi-year research and industrial based projects, and has trained employees from more than 30 companies in the field of new product development, sustainable hygienic design and best practices for manufacturing industries (Halal, HACCP, GMP, cGMP). Her research interest covers a wide area of controlled release technology, delivery system for bioactives, drug, micro-organisms including probiotics and functionalized nanomaterials for their applications in diverse fields such as food and packaging, bioprocessing and healthcare. She is a Professional Technologist, Chartered Engineer (IChemE UK), Chartered Scientist and Editorial Board of the Springer Journal of Food and Bioprocess Technology. Dr Ida was listed among the world’s top 2% scientist by Elsevier BV Standford University (for single year 2023) in her respected field.

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