This year’s KTP Awards are celebrating the hard work of KTP teams across the country. The Changing The World Award recognises teams who have delivered a societal, social, or environmental impact.
Read on to see who is in contention for this award at the Innovate UK KTP Awards, happening in Liverpool on 12th October (register here).
Over 50 million tons of electronic waste are generated globally each year. With only 20% formerly recycled, e-waste is routinely shipped overseas for disposal where it is burned through inefficient extraction processes, exposing workers and ecosystems to toxic by-products.
Worldwide, rare metals including gold, silver, copper and platinum worth an estimated €55bn, are lost annually. Not only is this a major issue for the planet, but also for society who is running out of critical materials.
This KTP, in collaboration with Coventry University, aimed to develop an in-house bioleaching-based capability using bacteria for the recovery of precious metals from e-waste, allowing the company to recover precious metals in-house, whilst preserving the environment and preventing health-related issues.
Mahsa played a key role in the delivery and evolution of this project as the Senior Biotechnologist/Laboratory Manager.
The development of a sustainable solution for the recovery of precious metals from Printed Circuit Boards has allowed Network 2 Supplies to become one of the first companies in the UK to use processes that don’t include incineration, large quantities of chemicals and acids to recover these metallic elements.
As a result of this KTP, their staff are now able to test printed circuit boards recovered from e-waste and assess composition and value. This has allowed them to pave the way for sustainable processes for the recycling and recovery of valuable metals and elements, using methods and techniques acquired as part of the KTP.
A changing climate, population growth, urbanisation and rising competition for water supplies are all concerns of the climate crisis. The Royal Horticultural Society collaborated with Cranfield University and water management specialist, Janet, to try and tackle the water challenges facing horticulture and gardeners today in which water demand is greatest at times of least water supply.
RHS is the UK’s leading gardening charity that provides advice and services to its 620,000+ members. They receive 2.9 million visitors to their gardens and over half a million visitors to their high profile RHS Shows each year.
This KTP addressed the risks associated with the dependence of ornamental horticulture, including gardening, on water, while promoting the role of improved water management in sustainable gardening, and in protecting the environment and building resilience to climatic changes and extremes.
Their interactive Mains2Rains website has encouraged gardeners, new and old, from those with only a balcony to allotments and gardens, to pledge to adopt simple measures to save water.
By the end of the project, gardeners had committed to an average annual saving of over 10.6 million litres of mains water, a saving that has continued to increase since the KTP with pledges to save a total of 34.73 million litres of mains water in an average year made on the Mains2Rains site. This had multiple benefits for people, the environment and society including improved well-being, reduced flood risk, biodiversity benefits, deferred investment and climate change mitigation.
The project appealed to a diverse audience and proved to be inclusive as over 25% of Mains2Rains users were “novice gardeners”, and almost 50% were aged between 18-44. The results of the KTP increased attractiveness to the new generation of gardeners who are increasingly looking to adopt sustainable practices as they recognise the mental health and well-being benefits of gardening.
This could in hand be down to the phenomenal reach at scale demonstrated through the KTP promoting its findings across 7 national/regional TV programmes, 27 radio broadcasts and 12 national newspaper articles in addition to a water management garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021 and other high profile gardening exhibitions.
Cranfield University and the RHS continue to collaborate to promote improved water management in gardening and wider horticulture, including on the ongoing Mains2Rains campaign (www.mains2rains.uk), researching rainwater harvesting opportunities within both the RHS and nationally to help deliver improved drought resilience and reduced mains water consumption; and in seeking further research and funding opportunities.
W & J Knox has a 240-year history as a manufacturer of netting products. They provide customised nets for sports, aquaculture, and bespoke situations. They are both a leading supplier of nets and a provider of a range of net products and services for the UK aquaculture industry.
They aimed to develop processes to extract high-value commercial products from aquatic waste materials which are retrieved during net servicing to align with Zero Waste Scotland’s pledge to reduce waste sent to landfill while generating innovative new business opportunities.
Providing sustainable growth to Scottish aquaculture is the primary focus of W & J Knox. Over the last decade, they have been the leader in innovative predator-resistant netting to reduce breaches and escapes.
The purpose of the partnership with Abertay University was to assess the commercial viability of potential by-products from the aquatic waste materials which are retrieved during aquaculture net servicing. The KTP aimed to valorise the organic fraction of net service waste generated by the net washing process.
Their service site is the largest in the UK typically handling 1000 nets per year. When operational, the processes developed during the KTP resulted in the diversion of roughly 30% of net service waste and provided an income stream to the company.
This KTP has been the turning point for the academics involved, as it showed proof of concept, increased the scalability of the process and provided a niche for the academic team to exploit within the sector.
W & J Knox was purchased by Selstad in 2021 as they saw innovation embedded into the business through this KTP. This acquisition means that the redirection of waste (organic, inorganic and plastic) is now being embedded throughout the aquaculture sector from Scotland to Iceland, Norway, and South Africa. But more importantly, it is now being applied to other sectors as well, such as fisheries and offshore oil rigs/gas and is sustainable within our oceans through their parent company.
This KTP has led to a change in prioritising the reduction in, and reuse of, waste. With thanks to Ryan, recycling of waste has driven a reduction in dependency on landfill as it’s redirected into several different streams, organic waste that can be utilised as fertiliser and plastic waste which can be further reused.
The KTP Awards recognise the people and partnerships behind the UK’s most inspiring and successful KTP projects. Highlighting these outstanding partnerships is just the tip of the iceberg, with more than 800 inspiring collaborations currently happening across the country.
If you want to attend the awards virtually or to join us in person, you can register here.