Scientists using supply chain waste as carbon source University of York scientists are attempting to turn one man's trash into another man's treasure. The scientists at the university are leading a major network supported by the European Union that will explore methods of utilizing supply chain waste from food industries and using it as an alternative carbon source through sustainable chemical technologies.

York's Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence recently won a European Co-operation in Science and Technology grant to run the network. The center launched the Biowaste Industrial Symbiosis Network at a Technology Fair in Santa Clara, California.

The network is coordinated by Lucie Pfaltzgraff, a PhD student at the university. The network includes engineers, chemists, biotechnologists and food technologists from the education sector and industry.

“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," said James Clark, director of the University of York's Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence. “As well as harnessing skills and expertise that cross scientific borders, covering biology, chemistry, biotechnology and food science and technology, the network will include experts in environmental and economic assessment. 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.”

The program aims to transform food supply chain waste into an alternative carbon source for bio-chemicals, bio-materials and bio-fuels by fostering collaboration among relevant research groups worldwide. The process will overcome technological barriers and seek ways to move beyond composting, anaerobic digestion and other methods of recycling and transforming food waste.

The researchers are currently focusing on the potential uses of citrus residue and coffee waste, in addition to pea pods and cashew shells.

The network already includes academic institutions from China, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Greece and Finland.

This network is far from the only program that is focusing on eco-friendly applications and best practices supply chain management.

StopWaste, a program run by an Oakland-based agency, has run an initiative called Use Reusables to help more than 200 companies in California to adopt sustainable practices in the supply chain in order to reduce waste. The program, which focuses on the benefits of using green packaging and shipping materials, will be implemented nationwide with a $499,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to
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