LOCAL COMPANIES JOIN FORCES WITH UNIVERSITY OF ABERDEEN IN PROJECT TO CREATE HIGHLY INNOVATIVE FACIL

LOCAL COMPANIES JOIN FORCES WITH UNIVERSITY OF ABERDEEN IN PROJECT TO CREATE HIGHLY INNOVATIVE FACIL

LOCAL COMPANIES JOIN FORCES WITH UNIVERSITY OF ABERDEEN IN PROJECT TO CREATE HIGHLY INNOVATIVE FACILITY FOR THE PRODUCTION OF ORGANIC PLANT FEED

Local company, Waste Solutions Group plc, is using innovative biotechnology to digest fish offal to produce organic plant feed. The 2-phase multi-million pound project, in which the University of Aberdeen will play a key consultancy role, will involve the construction of a plant in Peterhead.

In addition to providing approved certified feed for the growing UK organic market, this novel scheme will enable fish processors to benefit from another route for the disposal of their waste material. Increased disposal costs for their waste products are currently threatening the survival of many fish processing companies.

Dr Carlo Leifert, Director of the University’s Centre for Organic Agriculture, is a consultant to the project, bringing with him his extensive knowledge and expertise in the subject

Ian Walker, Regional Business Manager of the Clydesdale Bank PLC, Aberdeen, said: “I am delighted that we are supporting this exciting local initiative!”

The project has also been awarded grant funding of £250,000 by the Department of Trade and Industry under their BIO-WISE Demonstrator Project Competition. BIO-WISE is a major UK Government Programme which offers free, independent advice about biotechnology and seeks to encourages a wide range of UK industry sectors to use biotechnology to enhance their competitiveness and to develop further

the UK biotechnology suppler base. The award will be presented to Waste Solutions Group, the University of Aberdeen and their partners at a ceremony on 8 September in Trinity Hall, Holburn Street, Aberdeen at 11.30am.

There has been a rapid growth in the UK organic fruit and vegetable market, with some 50,000 hectares already dedicated to organic production, with a further 50,000 hectares due to come on stream within the next 2-3 years. However, there is limited availability of organic plant feed, much of which is presently imported at high cost.

Mr Bill Slater, MD of Waste Solutions Group plc, explained: “The project will use very advanced anaerobic digestion technologies to overcome the problem found in the digestion of fish protein which produces high concentrations of ammonia, volatile fatty acids, amino acids and hydrogen sulphide. Ammonia is highly toxic to the bacteria which would digest the fish offal.”

Mr Slater went on to explain that Waste Solutions Group plc has been at the forefront of developing anaerobic fermentation techniques for solid and liquid wastes in the meat, dairy, woolscour, fruit and vegetable processing, farm wastes and fish processing industries. These industries typically have high protein and fat concentrations in their waste and problems have long been encountered with the anaerobic digestion of high fat and protein wastes. The company has focused its science and technology research on protein and lipid from meat, dairy, woolscour and fish processing.

"Construction of the plant will begin in June 2001, with production scheduled for December 2001. This will bring new jobs to Peterhead."

Dr Carlo Leifert added: “This is a tremendous example of how industry and academe can work together to provide an innovative and added-value answer to the use of an industrial bioproduct. What is particularly satisfying is that we are introducing a new industry to the North East of Scotland based on its own indigenous natural resources.”

The other companies involved are Alexander Buchan Ltd, a fish processing company based in Peterhead and Glenside Organics, an organic fertiliser company located in Stirlingshire.

Further information from:

Christine Cook, Executive Director of Public Relations, Tel: 01224 272014

Photocall Details: You are invited to send a photographer/reporter to the Trinity Hall, Holburn Street, Aberdeen at 11.30am on Friday 8 September. Nicol Stephen MSP. Deputy Minister for Exterprise and Lifelong Learning, will attend the photocall.

University Press Office on telephone +44 (0)1224-273778 or email a.ramsay@admin.abdn.ac.uk.

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