A fine brew for biological treatment

Academia and industry have come together together to transform a disused brewery into a state-of-the-art compost and recycling centre in Yorkshire

Scientists from the University of Hull are providing microbiology expertise to a new project which is set to become an international flagship for waste management. Leeds-based Mytum & Selby Waste Recycling (MSWR) is working with the University to create a novel compost and recycling centre at a disused brewery site in South Milford, Yorkshire.

State-of-the-art facilities, believed to be first of their kind, will utilise derelict grain silos to develop an industrial composting process for the treatment of wet food waste. Once the £30M centre is up and running, it will be able to store and process some 32,000 tonnes of organic waste at any one time. The project's first phase, due for completion early next year, will see a composting facility processing up to 100,000 tonnes of food waste annually without creating secondary noise or odour emissions.

Steven Carrie, managing director at MSWR, believes the former maltings site provided the ideal location. "This site which used to process food materials for the brewing industry for over 130 years already has the infrastructure for in-vessel composting and recycling techniques," he says.

Knowledge transfer
As MSWR has no previous experience of food waste treatment, it has been working with the University to develop and implement the various procedures and systems required. The centre will also have the capability to carry out large- and small-scale tests in a scientific manner prior to implementing full-scale biological treatment on the site.

John Adams, researcher and microbiologist at the University explains further: "This research centre will prove invaluable for recording and analysing important theory in commercial practice, right on our doorstep.

"We hope that waste management specialists will visit the centre and see how we are using this disused brewery to provide local businesses with a solution to their waste management needs, cheaper recycling opportunities and the advantage of trading at a more competitive and greener level."

The University has also been helping MSWR to research other possibilities that the site will create, with companies already involved in designing procedures to create green electricity and heat from by-products on the site. The new facility is expected to create 250 jobs and benefit district homes and firms, providing a welcome boost for the local employment market which has seen job losses of over 1,000 in recent months through the closure of various businesses.

Carrie adds: "The partnership between the University and Mytum is a perfect example of how a commercial organisation can benefit from the expertise offered by one of our region's universities, and contribute towards the reduction of carbon emissions into the bargain."

Backing for the project has been received from the DTI, Environment Agency, Recycling Action Yorkshire, Selby District Council and Yorkshire Forward.

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