Scientists team up to research food waste as an energy source

3 August 2012

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4 August 2012 | Kamalpreet Badasha

A network of scientists is researching how food waste such as coffee, citrus residue and cashew shells, can be made into a valuable commodity for energy use.

The University of York’s Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence research facility is exploring how waste from the food supply chain can be used as an alternative carbon source for bio-fuel, bio-material and bio-chemical. It launched the Biowaste Industrial Symbiosis Network, which is made up of engineers, biotechnologists and food technologists, to further develop the research.

Director of the centre professor James Clark, said: “We want to bring about a critical mass of researchers and stakeholders to harness the potential of food supply chain waste as an alternative carbon source to produce commercially viable chemical commodities.”

The network is currently studying the reuse of citrus residue and pea pods after winning a grant from the European Co-operation in Science and Technology (COST), which aims to bridge research communities across the continent. “The EU support we are receiving is an acknowledgement that food supply chain waste is an important area of scientific study that has potential to change significantly the way we live,” said Clark.

Some  methods of turning food into energy already exist. For example, anaerobic digestion recycles food waste to produce fertiliser and electricity. Sainsbury's procurement-led project to divert its food waste from landfill scooped the top prize in at the 2009 CIPS Supply Management Awards.

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