The International Space Station
(ISS) National Laboratory has announced two winning concepts from its Sustainability Challenge: Beyond Plastics. The concepts will receive funding for their research proposals from the exclusive challenge partner, Estee Lauder, and will have the opportunity to launch their research to the orbiting laboratory.
“As an evolution of our commitment to long-term sustainability and our partnership with the ISS National Lab, we’re honored to recognize and help facilitate the impactful research of Dr. Meckler and Dr. Knauer,” said Stephane de La Faverie, group resident, The Estee Lauder Companies
& global brand president, Estee Lauder. “Building on the visionary work of our namesake founder Estee Lauder, who redefined technology and innovation in beauty, we are championing the next generation of leaders in science both to help drive the achievement of our packaging sustainability goals and in the hope of having broad impacts beyond our industry.”
This exclusive partnership between is a first for the beauty industry, reinforcing Estee Lauder
’s commitment to sustainability as they work towards their goal to have 75-100% of packaging be recyclable, refillable, reusable, recycled or recoverable by 2025. Since the call for proposals last October, 70% of Estee Lauder’s packages have been deemed all of the above.
‘Beyond Plastics’ Challenge
The ISS National Laboratory sustainability challenge, Beyond Plastics aims to utilize the unique space-based environment to develop, test or mature products and processes that reduce plastic waste introduction into the environment; seek alternative feedstocks and pathways for polymer production beyond petrochemicals; or reduce virgin plastic manufacturing.
Estee Lauder’s partnership and support of this research challenge reflects its commitment to long-term sustainability goals
and further enables scientific and technological discoveries to find new solutions for plastics alternatives with improved environmental responsibility.
Microgravity Synthesis of Aerogel Copolymers by Dr. Stephen Meckler, Palo Alto Research Center, Inc.
This project seeks to improve the performance of lightweight, porous aerogels to capture and remove carbon dioxide from the air. Producing the aerogel materials in the microgravity environment will allow the research team to study how the network of pores that make up the aerogel structure form in the absence of effects from gravity-driven convection and sedimentation. This information and the resulting pore structure may lead to better uniformity in the aerogels and higher carbon dioxide capture rates. Captured carbon dioxide could be used to replace oil as the polymer feedstock to produce plastics. PARC, which is part of the Xerox family, will work with ISS National Lab Implementation Partner Aerospace North America on this project.
No Carbon Left Behind: Biological Recycling of Plastic Waste
This project aims to determine whether space radiation and microgravity influence the behavior of specific bacteria strains that break down plastics and produce polymer building blocks. This is especially important because the process may be used in mixed plastic recycling consisting of many different types of plastics
. Results from this project may reveal new recycling mechanisms that could allow previously difficult-to-recycle plastics to be upcycled or made into materials of even higher value than the original. ISS National Lab Commercial Service Provider Rhodium Scientific will provide engineering support for this project.
The ISS National Lab intends to partner with other companies on similar sustainability challenges that fund opportunities to advance science that brings value to the planet.
For more on Estee Lauder’s ongoing commitments to sustainability, go here