Sustainable ceramics in the food and drink sector at heart of joint £10,000 project between Dunnet Bay Distillery and University of the West of Scotland

Ceramic bottles make up part of Dunnet Bay Distillers brand identity.

A far north distillery has joined forces with the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) to look at how ceramics can be used more sustainably in the food and drink sector.

Dunnet Bay Distillers and UWS have been awarded £10,000 from the Scottish Food and Drink Net Zero Challenge Fund for the partnership project.

As reported last week, the project is one of five in the Highlands and 17 across Scotland to benefit from the funding.

Professor Andrew Hursthouse, professor of environmental geochemistry at UWS, said: “Ceramic materials are widely used in the food and drink sector. The options for their recycling, due to their high material stability, poses a basic problem in recovery and reuse within the product life cycle, due to the high energy demand and composition – particularly of the glaze used on ceramics – impacting on environmental and economic viability .

“Ceramic products are found across the food and drink industry and the outcomes of this project will benefit the wider sector.”

The Scottish Food and Drink Net Zero Challenge Fund aims to encourage businesses to take action on their environmental impacts in a meaningful way, by partnering with world-leading experts and academics in engineering, manufacturing, biotechnology and data science that Scotland is blessed with.

The new UWS project aims to map the use and production of ceramic waste materials in the food and drink sector. Ceramics are problematic for recycling and the research will help to identify direction to further reduce environmental impact of the drinks sector, in relation to carbon management.

Ceramic bottles are part of Dunnet Bay Distillers brand identity and, while they currently attempt to maintain bottle life through a ‘Bottle for Life’ initiative and refills, this project will look at ways to further extend the life of materials.

Sarah Lyons, environmental manager at Dunnet Bay Distillers, added: “Ceramic exists in many forms and this study may enable the industry to continue sustainably with using ceramic bottles, but could also provide a framework for all ceramic users where alternative materials for their product/ use is not possible.

“Minimizing waste in the business and for our customers is important to us, both from a carbon perspective and in reducing waste to landfill, as we try to move to a more circular economy.

“We also hope that the outcomes of the project will have the potential to explore local options for up-cycling and re-cycling, that could lead to more opportunities to engage with visitors and the local community.”

Launched by Scotland Food and Drink Partnership and Interface in October 2021, the Net Zero Challenge Fund is a key initiative of the Scottish Government-backed industry recovery plan.

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