Waste to Wealth Workshop

Waste to Wealth Workshop, St. Andrews, 14 June 2019

Across the country, there is a growing interest from both industry and academia in recovering or transforming waste products into useful materials. As we are all so much more aware of our impact on the environment this sort of research is vital to help save the planet from our own damage.

Last week, CuanTec attended ‘Waste to Wealth: Opportunities in a Circular Economy’ where we learned all about the fantastic ongoing research from experts throughout the UK who are concentrating on repurposing waste.

There are many, many ways in which this is being achieved. From electronics to whisky co-products, the event demonstrated the wide range of waste that could be reused. For instance, by melting down and extracting gold from unused electronics, we can recycle this finite metal. It also decreases the need to mine for gold, which can be dangerous. Another example is the repurposing of electric car batteries. As the demand for electric cars increases, there will naturally be an increase in the production of electric car batteries – but what happens to then when they can no longer be used in this capacity, but are still in good condition? Instead of throwing them into landfill, they can be used as energy storage for renewable sources. Not only does this stop unnecessary items taking decades, or centuries, to decompose in the ground, it reduces the need to produce energy storage (which is also increasing due to the need for renewable energy).

Andrew King, Head of Marketing at CuanTec spoke proudly of our efforts in creating a circular economy, by taking waste shellfish shells from fisheries and generating our biodegradable, antimicrobial bioplastic. As a bonus, the side product from our process can be used as fish feed, so we do not really have any waste from the production of our bioplastic. After our presentation, we had lots of interest in our method and product from other delegates.

Supported by IBioIC, ZeroWaste Scotland, ScotCHEM and Energy Technology Partnership and hosted at the University of St Andrews, the event brought together academia and industries to discuss what they are doing to tackle the environmental issues caused by waste. The main thing is to decide if waste truly is waste – or can it be used elsewhere? As research in this field continues to expand and companies are more mindful of what happens to their waste, we can be sure to see improvements in our environment.