It was officially announced on Thursday 4th April that Waitrose & Partners has joined forces with Scottish biotec company CuanTec to work on a new film for food packaging made out of waste langoustine shells.


Official Press Announcement:




4th April 2019


Waitrose & Partners has joined forces with Scottish biotec company CuanTec to work on a new film for food packaging made out of waste langoustine shells.


CuanTec - based in Motherwell and Oban -  takes waste langoustine shells created from seafood processing to make a natural polymer - which can then be turned into a flexible film. The material also has the potential to be both industrially and home compostable.


The new packaging, which is at an experimental stage, was shown to HRH The Prince of Wales during a visit to Waitrose & Partners Food Innovation Studio today.


Waitrose hopes the new packaging could be used as an alternative to conventional plastic film on some of its fish products in 12-18 months time, including Waitrose Duchy smoked salmon.


Dr Cait Murray-Green, CEO of CuanTec, said; “For us this technology represents the perfect virtuous circle. As well as protecting food on sale to consumers, it gives value to what would have been a waste product and takes single use plastic out of the food system, meaning that less waste goes to landfill.”

Karen, Graley, Waitrose & Partners packaging manager said; “While we are still at an experimental stage, the potential for this new packaging material is incredibly exciting. Conventional plastic films can’t currently be recycled, reused or composted - so finding an alternative which doesn’t go into landfill would be very significant in helping us reach our target of ensuring that all own label packaging is widely recyclable, reusable or home compostable by 2023.”


Waitrose & Partners was introduced to CuanTec during a pitch day to reduce plastic waste for its JLAB retail innovation programme. JLAB allows the John Lewis Partnership to work with start-ups and more established businesses on exciting new technologies and ideas.


Waitrose & Partners was impressed with the potential of the ‘langoustine shell film’ and is now actively working with the company to test the packaging on some of its food in the hope of bringing it to market soon.


This wouldn’t be the first time that a bi-product of the food industry has been used for food packaging at Waitrose. The retailer is already using vine leaves produced as a by-product of tomato growing to make punnets for its Waitrose Duchy tomatoes.

CuanTec had the honour to be included at the launch of the Waitrose Food Innovation Centre on Thursday 4th April, where we had the opportunity to show HRH Prince of Wales our prototype world first home compostable packaging for salmon.


Official Press Announcement:

HRH The Prince of Wales visits Waitrose & Partners’ Headquarters


  • HRH The Prince of Wales officially opened the new Waitrose & Partners Food Innovation Studio today
  • Waitrose & Partners announces £1 billion sales milestone for Waitrose Duchy Organic brand with £23.5 million contribution to The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund for donation to good causes


HRH The Prince of Wales visited the Waitrose & Partners headquarters in Berkshire today to carry out the official opening of the Royal Warrant Holder’s new Food Innovation Studio. The cutting edge product development facility is part of Waitrose & Partners’ commitment to being the most innovative, high quality food retailer in the supermarket sector.


The Prince of Wales was given a guided tour of the new studio, which includes an innovation kitchen, a cookery theatre for training courses, a dedicated ideas room and five tasting rooms where Waitrose & Partners’ food team work together with producers on product development.


During the visit, His Royal Highness also met with Waitrose Partners who create and develop products for the Waitrose Duchy Organic range, the food brand originally founded by The Prince of Wales in 1990 to champion organic farming. Waitrose & Partners acquired the exclusive licence to develop and distribute Waitrose Duchy Organic ten years ago.


It was announced during the visit that total sales of the Waitrose Duchy Organic brand since the brand came to Waitrose & Partners have now surpassed £1 billion and that these sales have generated a contribution to The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund for donation to good causesof over £23.5 million.


Rob Collins, Managing Director, Waitrose & Partners said: ‘It was a great honour to welcome The Prince of Wales to our new Food Innovation Studio and show him the work we do here.”


He added  ‘As pioneers of  organic food in supermarkets we were proud to be entrusted with the Duchy Originals brand in 2009, and delighted to announce today that sales over the last 10 years of Waitrose Duchy Organic products have now exceeded £1billion, generating a contribution to The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund for donation to good causesof over £23.5 million.’


During the visit, The Prince of Wales met the Waitrose & Partners packaging team who showed some exciting new experimental packaging made out of langoustine shells. The shells, which would otherwise go to waste, are made into a cling film-like material which is currently being considered as a new type of packaging for Waitrose Duchy Organic Salmon in place of plastic.*


The Prince of Wales also followed the development journey of two new Waitrose Duchy Organic products: a delicious mincemeat for this year’s Duchy Organic Christmas range and a recipe for a roasted vegetable gratin which will be launched during Organic September.


The Prince of Wales met two producers, who make cider and grow apples for the Duchy Organic brand, and then observed the prospective Waitrose Duchy Organic mincemeat being put through its paces during a Waitrose & Partners ‘Product Panel’ session. This is a tasting and approval process which all new products go through, and must pass, if they are to make the shelves of Waitrose & Partners.




Materials / Organic / QC chemist


A role has become available for an enthusiastic chemist to join CuanTec’s facility at the European Centre for Marine Biotechnology, near Oban.


CuanTec is a blue biotechnology company, established in January 2017, who is seeking to expand its highly motivated workforce.  CuanTec is made up of a small but innovative team who are dedicated to the pioneering use of food waste to reduce landfill waste.  We work first-hand with the fisheries industry, diverting their food by-products from landfill and creating chitinous based food preserving agents such as preservative dips and anti-bacterial compostable bio-plastic packaging.  Ultimately tackling the ever-expanding issue of waste food and single-use plastics.


At present CuanTec is a young company that is rapidly moving forward into production. In light of the current state of development of CuanTec Ltd applicants would be expected to manage a multi-disciplinary role within this small company and embrace the challenges of working in a fast-paced changing environment. The applicant should be enthusiastic and relish a challenge.


CuanTec would like to appoint a Senior Chemist, with relevant industry background, to undertake duties in formulation, product development, QC and production of a biodegradable / compostable plastic alternative food-packaging derived from waste chitin.



As the industrial chemist you would have the following key responsibilities:




  • As an experienced Industrial chemist you will be able to take the lead role in chitosan formulation for the development of biodegradable and ultimately compostable food packaging.
  • Develop, validate and perform routine analytical methods to ensure the chitosan end-product meets material specifications
  • Identify chemical characteristics of the final chitosan product and develop QC assays and parameters to define the end-product
  • Accurate documentation of material production, material handling, produce CoA for batches of material
  • Work alongside and liaise with industry partners and consultants to conduct food-packaging trials, analyse trial results and use the data from these trials to feedback into product development


Product Development


  • At present the single application of chitosan is for food packaging; this may widen out into other applications in the future; the successful candidate would be expected to take on product development responsibilities within CuanTec’s R&D laboratories
  • Assist in chitosan conversion and deacetylation optimisation to develop a reproducible conversion process
  • Undertake data analysis and interpretation of related to product development




  • CuanTec Ltd use a biological approach for the recovery of chitin from shellfish waste; there is scope for process optimisation and the development of relevant chemical analyses for QC at different steps of production. In this regard the chemist may be called upon for input in method development or process optimisation.
  • Liaise with the Head of Science with regards production optimisation



Quality Control


  • Successful applicants must have experience of working to GMP and GLP standards and a strong understanding of industry compliance
  • As the company steps up to pilot-scale production part of the Quality Control required during method upscale and transfer will fall on the QC chemist; the ability to generate QC parameters into a QMS is a prerequisite
  • Throughout the production of chitosan and chitin recovery the chemist will be expected to contribute to various aspects of quality control
  • Having an understanding of ISO standards and industrial regulations would also be advantageous


Documentation / communication / collaboration


  • Write progress reports and prepare results for Head of Science and the Board; present findings to colleagues and partners as required
  • Conduct data analysis and accurate / timely reporting of findings to the Head of Science
  • Ensure the validity and reliability of data at all times; and the accurate reporting of data in lab books and electronically as required
  • To develop contacts and research collaborations within industry and academia if required
  • Take initiative in the planning of research




  • The successful applicant should be able to identify areas where they can develop any required skills and knowledge and be willing to undertake training as necessary


Essential Requirements


  • A first degree (or equivalent) or a masters (or equivalent) in materials science, chemistry, engineering or similar
  • A PhD (or equivalent) in chemistry, QC, polymer chemistry or materials science or engineering including bioengineering or similar.
  • Experience in biopolymer characterisation (mechanical properties, chemical analyses, NMR, crystallography)
  • Experience in a wide range of synthetic skills (e.g. experimental design, wet chemistry, purification etc)
  • Experience in focusing on biopolymers, their chemistry and characterisation
  • Knowledge of materials characterisation techniques.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Demonstrable ability for innovation and original research
  • Demonstrated ability to work in industry and a collaborative environment
  • Demonstrated ability to conduct a detailed review of recent literature




Further information can be obtained from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Please submit CVs in application for this post to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.