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Tapping the chemical potential of food waste

Posted on 4 November 2014

Scientists at the University of York are helping local companies extract and use chemicals from food waste.

Experts in the University’s Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence are working on an innovative project to create value from the region’s food waste by extracting natural chemicals which can be used by other local industries.

The WasteValor project helps companies who create or process food across the Yorkshire and Humber region to identify potential new income streams while reducing the amount of waste they send to landfill. It also advises local industries who are potential users of the extracted material, from soaps and cosmetics companies to a furniture manufacturer, and links them with potential suppliers.

WasteValor industrial engagement manager Dr Jeff Eaves is inviting companies who create or process food waste, or who may be able to use the materials extracted, to get in touch to find out if they are eligible for two day’s free consultancy at the University. The work is funded by a grant from the European Regional Development Fund.

“Many small and medium sized companies don’t have don’t have the time or R&D resources to investigate if they can do more with their food waste,” Dr Eaves explains. “Our scientists provide desk-based and laboratory research to analyse the feasibility of extracting useful chemicals, such as limonene and pectin from fruit peel, succinic acid from bakery waste or starch from potato peelings.

“We also work with companies who can use the natural chemicals from the waste. For example, the oils extracted from coffee grounds are a natural and ethical alternative to palm oil for soap and cosmetic formulations. We’d love to hear from companies in the region who use natural products in their business, or who would like to investigate using them to replace materials derived from crude oil.

“Scientists at York have come up with some very innovative uses for waste, such as processed starch as a green filter to remove contaminants from waste water and fruit waste as a potential source of natural antioxidants, flavours and fragrances.”

WasteValor supports small and medium sized businesses in the Yorkshire and Humber region (excluding South Yorkshire). Companies who would like more information can contact the WasteValor team by emailing wastevalor@york.ac.uk, calling 01904 324966 or visiting www.wastevalor.org

Further information:

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