Fibre providers

Fibre providers

In this job, you receive a multitude of emails on all manner of topics. Some of which you dismiss unwittingly. It’s not that you’re unappreciative of the PR people who pass along stories – it’s just that there are so frighteningly many of them, and for every inbox popup that’s relevant to me, there are four or five more that bang on how to make money from crypto. This leads to quickfire dismissal of those deemed irrelevant.

Fortunately for me, I didn’t jump to this decision with the story about fishnet stockings! Tempted though I may’ve been.

Not only is this email a gem of a story, it’s also one relaying a global first.

The Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) is telling how a new research project is looking at turning fish processing waste into “valuable, usable products” – namely adipic acid which is a key component used to make nylon.

Plastic experts from Impact Solutions; biotechnology researchers from the University of Edinburgh led by Dr Stephen Wallace; seafood producer Farne Salmon, part of Labeyrie Fine Foods; and the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) are exploring the feasibility of a more environmentally friendly, circular approach to the production of synthetic clothing.

The group are taking waste material generated as part of fish processing and using biological enzymes to extract the fatty components of the fish waste.

Genetically modified bacteria can then turn the fatty components into a mixture of adipic acid and useful by-products.

The feasibility study marks the beginning of an important step towards finding a sustainable, bio-based alternative for the production of adipic acid, which is typically derived from petrochemicals. The steps involved in the current process are known to have a significant impact on the environment. Waste nitrous oxide is one of many by-products of the process, with some reports stating that it could be more harmful to the climate than CO2.

In addition to nylon, adipic acid is used in a range of products including food additives and flavourings.

According to the team, as much as 492,000 tonnes of waste is created annually by the UK’s fish processing industry – comprising fish remains, oils, and wastewater collected during the clean down of processing plants. Currently, the waste must go through either expensive and energy-intensive treatment and separation or used in low value products such as animal feed or fertiliser, but this new process could uncover alternative uses for the waste material.

I certainly won’t be looking at seafood waste in the same way now. In this age of sustainability, recycling is of such importance that the onus is on all of us that we leave behind the smallest possible eco-footprint. And what could be better than having the best of both worlds – looking stylish while thinking about the environment?

As for processing of emails, I’ll not be so harsh from now on.


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