News story

The value in waste

Exploring innovative technologies and collaborations that can turn waste into a valuable resource.

The Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Mark Walport, and Defra Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Boyd, have visited organisations in York to investigate the opportunities for waste in the bioeconomy.

The bioeconomy includes all economic activity derived from bio-based products and processes such as the production of crops or the manufacture of the latest bio-based medical therapies. It includes biorefining which is comparable to today’s petroleum refining that produces multiple fuels and products from petroleum.

The chief scientists visited the Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC) research and development facilities in York to meet clients, including local company, Wilson Bio-Chemical, who are working with the BDC to scale-up their technology for turning household waste into biofuels and high-value products chemicals. They also met with GSK and Veolia to discuss their research collaboration to use food by-products in antibiotic production.

Commenting on the visit Sir Mark Walport said:

Changing our approach to waste can yield considerable economic, environmental and social benefits and science and technology has a role to play.

It is great to see first-hand how the chemistry and biology science base at the University of York is working with industry to solve some of the major challenges they face. Organisations like the BDC and their partners who are doing pioneering work to turn municipal waste into reusable products such as biofuels and chemicals will help make UK businesses more sustainable and more competitive.

The visit is ahead of a report by the chief scientists which will examine how the UK can produce less waste and use our resources more productively. The purpose of the visit was to explore innovative technologies and collaborations that exploit waste as a resource.