The Science Behind Cuantec

CuanTec is a newly formed start-up from Strathclyde Alumnus, Dr Ryan Taylor. CuanTec will develop new materials from marine sourced chitin and chitosan obtained from the pollution free waters of the North Atlantic, taking waste from the fisheries industries and creating innovative products useful to many growing industries worldwide.

The first product will be anti-microbial food packaging which will reduce spoilage and prolong shelf-life of fresh food. Initially this will be aimed at the seafood sector and then expanded out to all foodstuffs.

The Scottish seafood sector alone loses £60 million per annum due to food spoilage. In 2015 the House of Lords conducted an inquiry reported that an estimated 89m tonnes of food are wasted every year in the EU, which is expected to rise to around 126m tonnes by 2020. In the UK 200,000 tonnes of food is sent to landfill (2013) from the big 4 supermarkets and this accounts for just 1.3% of all food waste in the UK the rest comes from smaller retailers, restaurants, and homes.

In addition to financial cost is the environmental cost of sending food to landfill and the production of methane, ammonia which add  to the greenhouse gas effect and substances such as cadaverine and putrescine which smell as bad as they sound.

 

Initially CuanTec will create products for the food packaging market.

Currently £60 million of product is wasted in the seafood sector in Scotland alone through rejection by customers. This is 10% of the Scottish seafood market. This spoilage is predominantly due to bacterial growth, however chitosan derived from langoustine shell has the potential to vastly reduce this food waste due to the natural antimicrobial properties of the material.

There is growing demand for non-plastic food packaging. France has recently outlawed all conventional plastic cups, cutlery and plates, mandating the use of home compostable alternatives. Often these alternatives are made from natural materials such as bioplastics and paper-based recyclable alternatives.
The bioplastic industry has a global worth of $29 billion with a CAGR of 24.9%.

Chitosan food packaging is extremely niche within this area and has potential to be market disruptive. CuanTec will take chitosan and create an antimicrobial, biodegradable, compostable food packaging that will be highly sought after by the seafood export market in Scotland and further afield.