Circular Economy and dairy industry

The circular economy is a concept that promotes of use of materials derived from existing industrial processes, often termed ‘waste’, to minimise the use of raw materials in production. This creates a closed-loop pattern in the economy, which effectively reduces the release of waste material into the environment; in short, “to reduce, reuse and recycle waste”. A key component is thinking about ‘waste’ in a different way, not as something to be discarded but as something to be re-purposed. The concept of a circular economy has gained a more widespread recognition in recent years, moving […]

Read more

Duckweed: a key component for recycling dairy processing wastewater

The duckweeds are a group of small aquatic plants that are a common sight in lakes and ponds around Ireland, and indeed the world. In Ireland, we have a number of species of duckweed: native Lemna minor, Lemna gibba, Lemna trisulca, Spirodela polyrhiza and alien Lemna minuta. You can see images of Lemna minor below in both a lab setting and in the wild. Figure 1. Left: close-up view of L. minor in the lab. Right: L. minor growing alongside grass in a pond in the wild If it seems to the eye to be […]

Read more

Plastic waste – or resource?

What happens to plastic waste? Plastic waste has a range of different treatment options with varying environmental impacts. Recycling offers a way to reuse resources from plastic waste, and accounts for around 30% of plastic waste treatment in Europe. However, most recycled plastic cannot be reprocessed for the same application again because the recycling process itself impairs the properties of the material. These lower value applications include carpets, bin bags or fillers for construction. A second round of recycling of these materials is not economically feasible. As a result they end up in incinerators which […]

Read more

Bioplastics – where do they come from

Definition Bioplastics development and application began as early as the 1850s with celluloids made from cellulose and camphor.   Early applications of this novel, robust material, involved the replacement of natural materials such as ivory, e.g. in the production billiard balls.  The most successful, widespread application of celluloid however, was associated with its use in film reel for movies and photography. Unfortunately, the flammability of celluloid often led to an abrupt end to a movie screening, as the film was susceptible to ignition via the heat from traditional projector lamps! Unfavourable properties such as these paved […]

Read more

Plastic – from Wonder Material to Waste

Today we can no longer imagine a world without plastic. Everything from the toothbrush we use in the morning, to the TV set we use in the evening is made from it and the possible applications seem endless. History The first commercial synthetic plastic was Bakelite, invented by Leo Baekeland in the early 20th century. Bakelite is relatively resistant to heat and therefore found its way into many applications in the field of electronics and mechanics where it replaced shellac, a product harvested from beetles. The Bakelite success story started a wave of new developments […]

Read more