In recent months, we've been lucky enough to have some talented new employees start with CuanTec. Continuing our series of feedback on how it's been going so far with them, here's some comments from our newest lab technician, Toby:

"I'm am a Microbiology Technician here at our Oban site.

I first heard of CuanTec during my third year at university, while receiving a presentation from Dr Tracy White on the company and its work. From that lecture I was enthralled and amazed by the innovation and ideas of CuanTec. I was lucky enough to be offered a summer placement with CuanTec in 2018, which I thoroughly enjoyed and learned so much from.

Following this during my fourth year at university I undertook a co-supervised dissertation with CuanTec, which luckily is just across the road from university! Even before I finished my course, I was offered a position at CuanTec and I started working at the Oban site a few weeks after my final exams of university in June 2019.

The past few months and in fact the past year of working with and for CuanTec has been a fantastic experience. I look forward to working with the talented people at CuanTec and helping with the goal of mitigating continuing plastic pollution."

Developing Young Workforce Event

This week CuanTec had the pleasure of exhibiting at City of Glasgow College. The event was designed to engage young people (S1/2) in conversations about circular economies and why STEM is so important for the future.

The participants were all eager to talk to each of the exhibitors and were happy to volunteer and take part during the opening presentations and workshops. We had many young people and teachers keen to talk to us about our company. Many were already aware of the problems caused by thermoplastics and could see the advantages of our compostable replacement – we even had one young man say that he would invest in us!

                  

The awareness that these young people had about the present state of our environment was very promising. Not only a reflection of the current media interests in the climate crisis, but also in our education system. Teaching the realities of how our behaviours are affecting the planet and its species is having an impact on students. They can see, probably more clearly than most adults, that we must change our lifestyles if we want humanity to survive. It is, however, up to adults to make these changes.

These events are hugely important to CuanTec. We believe strongly in the education of young people, showing (not just telling) steps we can take to deal with the current climate crisis. We want to give back to our communities and encourage open and honest conversations with anyone who wants to know more and get involved in our mission to make plastic pollution history.

We would like to say a huge thank you to SmartSTEMs, Developing the Young Workforce Glasgow and Circular Glasgow for organising the event and asking us to participate. Each of these organisations are doing fantastic work to show young people about potential careers in STEM subjects and businesses and it was a pleasure to work with them.

 

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.