A Special Report is content that is edited and produced by the Special Reports unit within The Irish Times Content Studio. It is supported by advertisers who may contribute to the report, but who do not have editorial control.

From beer breweries to fashion firms, the circular businesses reducing waste

One such business is St Mel’s, which makes beer from Panelto Foods’ surplus bread

Eoin Tynan and Liam Hanlon, founders of St. Mel’s Brewery. Photograph: Declan Gaffney

Eoin Tynan and Liam Hanlon, founders of St. Mel’s Brewery. Photograph: Declan Gaffney

 

Orlagh Reynolds, postdoctoral researcher with the Beacon Bioeconomy Research Centre and the UCD College of Business, gives some examples of circular businesses.

“One example of a firm innovating in circular raw materials is the UK-based Biohm. The bio-manufacturing firm creates a laboratory-grown, mushroom-based building product for use in textiles, packaging and building construction. Biohm takes a circular approach rather than an extractive approach to their entire supply chain, including offering 50 per cent profit share to local community groups.

“There are multiple organisations engaged in the circular process of industrial symbiosis between bread and beer. In Longford, Panelto Foods has been supplying St Mel’s Brewing Company with surplus bread and the brewery has been using it to make beer. This commands a price for surplus bread for the bread producer, reduces production costs for breweries, and reduces waste.

“A good example of a novel product developed through a cross-sector partnership led by IT Tralee is Biorefinery Glas. In partnership with the farmer agribusiness co-operative Barryroe and the food manufacturer Carbery Group in the southwest of Ireland, Biorefinery Glas is a first demonstration of replicable small-scale biorefinery in Ireland, supporting development of new circular business models and farmer diversification into the circular bioeconomy. Through biorefining, it converts freshly harvested grass into a range of new products in a process which improves the protein efficiency, value and sustainability of our grasslands.

Business model transformation

“An example of business model transformation is nutrition company Glanbia. They are transforming from a carbon-intensive to a low-carbon, high-value business model. With the AgriChemWhey project, Glanbia are developing a new value chain by converting low-value byproducts of dairy processing into cost-competitive, sustainable lactic acid which can be used in compost, bio-based fertiliser, biodegradable plastics for use in food packaging and minerals for human nutrition.”

Dr Hakan Karaosman, of Fashion’s Responsible Supply Chain Hub, says Osklen Brazil is a strong example of a circular fashion firm. “Osklen creates innovative, environmentally and socially responsible fashion products by using ethically sourced and environmentally friendly materials, including responsible leather coming from salmon and pirarucu fish. Pirarucu is one of the largest freshwater fish in the world. Osklen, in collaboration with a tannery called Nova Kaeru, has developed a low-impact tanning method that transforms the pirarucu skin into leather without making any genetic modifications or without using hazardous chemicals in the dyeing process.”