Home 5 Waste Management 5 Brewster Bros and Heriot-Watt University Join Forces to Explore Potential of Recycling Process By-products

Brewster Bros and Heriot-Watt University Join Forces to Explore Potential of Recycling Process By-products

Mar 9, 2021 | Waste Management

We’re thrilled to announce the launch of our Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Heriot-Watt University. The partnership has been made possible through the Knowledge Transfer Network and will see our newly appointed Research Associate, Dr Winifred Obande, performing cutting edge research to explore circular uses for the by-products created by our state-of-the-art recycling plant. The partnership will be overseen by geotechnical and geoenvironmental Professor Gabriela Medero of Heriot-Watt University and aims to uncover innovative uses for the residual waste from our recycling process.

The Current Situation

Over 50% of Scotland’s waste comes from construction, making it the most environmentally damaging industry in the country, and according to SEPA, over 39% of all waste sent to landfill in Scotland in 2019 was soil.

At our recycling plant near Livingston, we turn this waste into valuable materials for the construction industry, helping the sector transition away from Scotland’s remaining landfills and allowing the construction industry to evolve towards achieving a circular economy. Collaboration is at the heart of the circular economy and is the key to working towards Scotland’s ambitious carbon neutral targets.

Partnership with Heriot-Watt

Through complimentary partnerships like this, linking industry and academia, vital innovation is able to take place to help close the loop across industries. After all, one man’s waste is another man’s treasure.

KTP Associate, Dr Winifred (Wini) Obande, remarked “This is an exciting project to be involved with as it seeks to explore routes towards addressing supply chain sustainability and waste management challenges within a thriving sector.”. Wini has 8 years of experience in materials research and development and has recently completed a Mechanical Engineering PhD specialising in Materials and Processes. Her knowledge will be used to research the potential uses for the by-products from our recycling plant with a focus on clay and shale. Clay can account for up to 25% of construction, demolition and excavation waste and traditionally has been sent to landfills. At our recycling plant, the clay from our filter press is currently used to restore our wider site as a capping material, but has great potential for more valuable uses within the construction industry.

As part of this partnership, we will be creating a treatment centre for hazardous soil which will be the first of its kind in the UK. Soil makes up a significant portion of the waste from the construction industry that ends up in landfills, and ‘soil hospitals’ are important in helping remediate this resource, allowing reuse. The future relies on treatment centres becoming the norm, which would see a sizeable reduction in the volume of waste sent to Scotland’s landfills and protect the finite remaining void space for materials that are much more difficult to recycle

Hopes for the Future

Brewster Bros’ Managing Director, Scott Brewster, expressed the importance of similar partnerships in a bid to create a more sustainable Scotland:

“The more ambitious and innovative we become when creating new products from waste, the more technical knowledge we will require from experts in their field.

This Knowledge Transfer Partnership will not only enhance our company’s capabilities and offering, but also provide a vast body of knowledge that will benefit the wider industry as we collectively focus on achieving net zero targets.

A circular business model eases pressure on our country’s remaining landfill capacity and finite mineral resources, while helping our customers to avoid paying landfill tax and the aggregates levy – this will be even more important as businesses focus on a green recovery in the post-Covid era.”

We’re looking forward to sharing Wini’s findings from the KTP over the next two years and hope to bring the construction industry even closer to closing the loop on waste. To make sure you’re kept in the loop with the updates from our partnership with Heriot-Watt follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook or keep an eye on our blog. For more information about our recycling process, head over to our process page.