Dr Kang Lan Tee
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Global Challenges Research Fellow, Dr Kang Lan Tee, will focus on tackling the environmental damage caused by persistent plastic waste, through the sustainable production and consumption of bioplastic.
About Dr Kang Lan Tee's research:
"The Science journal published an article in 2015 that showed that five Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries (Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia) are in the top ten countries with mismanaged plastic waste. Ranked second, Indonesia generates 3.22 metric tons (MT) of plastic waste annually while Thailand is the world's sixth biggest contributor at 1.03 MT per year. As the world continues to seek a more sustainable way of producing and consuming plastic, it is clear that the Global South bears the brunt of this plastic epidemic. In partnership with the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC) and the National Metal and Materials Technology Centre (MTEC) in Thailand, my project aims to create a circular economy approach to the sustainable production and consumption of bioplastic. We will leverage the agricultural capacity of Thailand and ASEAN by using agricultural wastes, such as cassava pulp and sugarcane bagasse, as sustainable feedstock for bioplastic production. Production of compostable and biodegradable polyhydroxyalkaoate (PHA) in this project will also help to tackle the environmental damage caused by persistent plastic wastes.
"I am thankful to the University of Sheffield and those involved in making this award, and the opportunity presented to the Global Challenge Fellows to lead efforts in addressing the key global challenges our world faces. More importantly, the award demonstrates commitment to solving plastic waste/pollution as a pressing issue and validates the importance of engineering sciences and partnership in delivering that solution. Support from the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering has also been crucial for the development of this research project. Having worked with BIOTEC in various GCRF schemes since 2016, the fellowship is a unique opportunity for me to intensify and broaden our collaboration to create a dynamic and long-lasting partnership.
"Working closely with Thai researchers on a daily basis, I look forward to sharing research experience and training young researchers to help strengthen the research capacity in Thailand. This experience will give me greater insights into the culture and people in Thailand and the challenges they face, through which I hope to tailor our future partnership to maximise impact delivery. As a long-term vision of this partnership with BIOTEC and MTEC, I want to establish an ASEAN researchers network to pool expertise and the unique resources in individual countries for innovation that can support clean and sustainable growth in the region."