CuanTec rewarded for their innovative way to take care of the natural world

CuanTec founder Ryan Taylor (second, left) receives the award from (l-r) BBC Scotland TV and radio presenter and wildlife expert Euan McIlwraith, Balfour Beatty's head of environment Poul Wend Hansen and TV presenter, writer and naturalist Kate Humble. Pic: Simon Williams Photography Edinburgh
CuanTec founder Ryan Taylor (second, left) receives the award from (l-r) BBC Scotland TV and radio presenter and wildlife expert Euan McIlwraith, Balfour Beatty's head of environment Poul Wend Hansen and TV presenter, writer and naturalist Kate Humble. Pic: Simon Williams Photography Edinburgh

Lanarkshire blue biotechnology company CuanTec won the Innovation Award at the RSPB Nature of Scotland Awards.

A special presentation dinner took place in Edinburgh, co-sponsored by Scottish Natural Heritage, as a celebration of the passionate and dedicated people fighting to save Scotland’s wildlife and our unique and special places.

CuanTec, based at MediCity near Newhouse, is a Scottish start-up with a circular economy, zero waste solution to food waste and plastic pollution.

They extract the natural biopolymer chitin from inedible bits of scampi, and turn it into compostable, anti-microbial food packaging that makes food last longer, and provides an additional 48 hours of shelf life for fresh salmon.

They do this through a process that uses fermentation to gently extract the biopolymer at significantly lower temperature and energy consumption than the usual chemical process. The method doesn’t create toxic sludge, instead all the by-products can be used making the process truly zero-waste

A third of the food in the western world is wasted, and 10 per cent of the waste occurs between farm and store.

Fresh seafood is particularly prone to spoilage and the industry has been working hard to achieve a shelf-life extension of 48 hours, effectively doubling the time that salmon steaks can be displayed in a supermarket.

Dr Cait Murray-Green, CEO of CuanTec, said: “We are delighted and proud that CuanTec’s unique solution to food waste and plastic pollution has been chosen by the RSPB.

“Our environment is plagued by plastic that is damaging to bird and animal life and now the world has awakened to the need for solutions. CuanTec’s new approach will provide an alternative that is environmentally supportive and also reduces food waste.”

The awards were hosted by TV presenter and naturalist Kate Humble, where 11 people and projects received trophies designed by Bryony Knox and sponsored by Turcan Connell.

The full list of winners was – Food & Farming Award (sponsored by The James Hutton Institute): Common Farm; Business Award: Barratts provides new homes for people and wildlife in Aberdeen; Innovation Award (sponsored by Balfour Beatty): CuanTec; SNH Youth & Education Award (sponsored by Scottish Natural Heritage): Reviving Rossie – Awakening a secret wood; Community Initiative Award (sponsored by GreenPower): Ninewells Community Garden: therapeutic gardening for all; RSPB Young Nature Champion Award (sponsored by ScottishPower): Xander Johnston and Kathleen McMillan; Nature Tourism Award (sponsored by Scottish Water): The Argaty Red Kite Project; Political Advocate of the Year: Dr Tom Dargie; Sustainable Development Award (sponsored by The Ardmore): European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre Scientific Research Programme.

Sir John Lister-Kaye OBE was recognised with the lifetime achievement award for his work as a naturalist, conservationist, author, and educator.