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PROSPER MAGAZINE: DIGITAL EDITION

BUILDING THE BLACK COUNTRY

VALUE FROM WASTE: LOW CARBON HELP FOR COMPANIES 

Ever-increasingly, businesses are facing pressure from customers to provide low carbon products and decarbonise their supply chain. 

It has been estimated that the UK low carbon economy could grow by 11% per year until 2030 - at a rate 4 times faster than the rest of the economy.

This autumn, in order to help businesses in the Black Country maximise opportunities in this thriving market, the Energy & Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI) at Aston University is offering one-to-one events specially designed to help companies develop new low carbon product and service innovations, as well as get value from a variety of waste material.

Each year the Black Country produces 3.2 million tonnes of commercial and industrial waste. Redundant material such as food waste, cardboard, plastic waste, sawdust, waste oils, manure, hay straw, sugar beet residue, spent grain waste from breweries are only a few examples of waste that could potentially open up fresh possibilities for companies in the region.

 

Tim Miller, EBRI’s Director of Engagement told Prosper, “The Black Country is well known for having the UK’s highest concentration of manufacturing. This key industrial sector, as well as other industries such as construction, engineering, waste management, financial services, food and drink, and agricultural, can all benefit from an exclusive low carbon challenge consultation with EBRI”.

He continues, “Not only can we support entrepreneurs looking to either develop new low carbon products and services or turn waste material into energy, but we can also help business owners looking to maximise the sustainability and energy efficiency of their property and land developments”.

Working in the Black Country

An example of the practical support that EBRI can give is demonstrated by the help it gave to Modus Waste & Recycling Ltd, based in Stourbridge. Innovative entrepreneur Oliver Lloyd, who founded the company in 2017, recognised that food waste generated by local pubs, restaurants and independent food stores could open up new possibilities for his business benefiting both the environment and the economy.

A new business from food waste

Oliver’s first company Waste Cure Ltd originally specialised in domestic bulk waste collections, offering a service to residences in the Black Country lacking the space to accommodate skips. Material collected such as wood and metal is recycled, and items of use are donated to charity. At the time Oliver attended the EBRI ‘Value from Waste’ Master Class at Aston University, he had been exploring new routes for his business and was considering expanding into commercial collections from local companies. The two-day event inspired him to explore a brand new direction for his business—collecting commercial food waste and putting it to good use. From there sprung his new business venture - Modus Waste & Recycling.

   

Support from EBRI
This highly acclaimed EBRI Value from Waste Master Class is part of an EU European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) initiative which provides practical help to small and medium-sized enterprises to develop new products and services. While attending this course, Oliver discovered how new market opportunities can be developed from a whole range of unwanted materials including agricultural and manufacturing waste, as well as food and household waste. 

 

Of particular interest to him was the EBRI session on Anaerobic Digestion (AD) which highlighted the value of separating commercial food waste from general waste, and the potential commercial and environmental benefits of it not going straight into landfill. AD is a process which uses bacteria to convert organic materials, including food waste, animal manure and sewage sludge into a methane-rich ‘biogas’ used for combustion to produce heat and power. It also produces a non-digestible residue called ‘digestate’ which can be used as a fertilizer. 

 

Outcomes

Following on from attending the EBRI course, Oliver contacted a wide variety of businesses in the West Midlands, all producing a variety of food waste in order to build up a solid supply chain to support his new business venture. Following his proactive marketing campaign, his new client base consists of breweries, restaurants, pubs and cafés.

 

The new company provides clients with 240 and 660-litre food waste bins, which changes their waste disposal system to accommodate food waste, by separating it from their general waste. Items such as organic waste generated through meal preparation, such as vegetable peelings, as well as ‘scrapes from plates’, coffee grains and tea bags are all ideal material that can be used in the AD process. Modus Waste & Recycling offers its clients a weekly collection service, which he then delivers to a 3rd party AD plant-based in Staffordshire where it is fed into a digester which creates biogas and digestate.

 

Additional specialist support 

Following on from the EBRI Value from Waste Master Class, EBRI provided additional support to Oliver to assess the various waste streams that his other business, Waste Cure, collects from residences and companies in the Black Country area including wood, glass, metals, furniture and bricks. EBRI’s specialist team of business research associates produced a detailed market report for him giving a thorough insight into the status of the waste management sector. The purpose of this was to help Oliver identify appropriate separation routes for his collected waste that commands higher recyclable value or has a good potential for Energy from Waste (EfW).

 

Impact

EBRI’s assistance has helped Oliver to consider his options to improve his waste stream sorting efficiency, and to make key decisions affecting the future of his two family-run companies. Armed with the knowledge that EBRI gave him, he promises their customers that by “Using the latest research and technology, we always focus on re-using the waste we collect”, Oliver told Prosper.

 

“EBRI has inspired me to expand my business horizons, as well as become more ethically aware. Our company now prides itself in looking at each individual type of waste material, including food waste, and what can be done to prevent it going into landfill, benefiting the environment and the local community.” 

 

Discover how EBRI can help your business

Until 30 November, EBRI will be holding low carbon challenge consultation sessions on:

  • Agricultural Waste

  • Brewers, Vineries, Cider Makers & Distillers

  • Buildings & Sites

  • Food & Drink

  • Plastics

  • Wood & Cardboard

 

During a 30 minute-consultation session, EBRI will discuss the particular low carbon challenge that your company is facing so that its team of experts can then devise a bespoke summary of their recommendations, research findings and other useful information to help the business. This will be provided a few days later at no cost to qualifying companies3.

 

Book now

To book a slot interested businesses can email bioenergy@aston.ac.uk, visit the website or call 0121 204 3383.

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