Peter Baccini: From break to breakthrough – operating in large-scale metabolic systems

Hebel, Dirk (2016). From break to breakthrough – operating in large-scale metabolic systems, in Breakthroughs – Ideas at ETH Zurich that shaped the world, Gerd Folkers, Martin Schmid (Hg.), ETH Zürich, Chronos Publishers, Zürich, Switzerland.

Every day and perhaps even every hour, there’s a scientist somewhere in the world making the next scientific breakthrough. Indeed, scientific development cannot take place in a vacuum; rather it thrives in an environment that offers inspiration and the necessary framework. One such place is ETH Zurich; it has flourished in this role over the course of its more than 150-year history. It is not presumptuous to claim that Peter Baccini in the 1980s and 90s as Head of Research at Eawag in Dübendorf (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology),developed the scientific fundamentals, tools and concepts of a radical paradigm shift in the waste management strategy of Switzerland that came to regard waste as a recurring resource and no longer solely as an undesirable substance to be disposed of. The pioneering innovation of his work was a new Swiss waste management model in 1986, which was not concerned with technical proposals for solutions to existing problems per se, but rather focused on formulating visionary social objectives of how waste can become an important part of the material management in our habitat.