UCD leads €8 million EU AgroCycle food-engineering research project
12 July 2016
Prof Shane Ward presents Phil Hogan with the AgroCycle hurley during the launch of the €8 million AgroCycle ‘circular economy’ project
Prof Shane Ward from the UCD School of Biosystems and Food Engineering is leading the €8 million AgroCycle project, which will develop a protocol for the implementation of the ‘circular economy’ across the agri-food sector. UCD won this against fierce competition: some 180 projects were submitted, but only two were funded. The international consortium comprises universities, research institutes, industry, SMEs, trade associations and policymakers.
Phil Hogan, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, launched the project at the inaugural meeting of the AgroCycle consortium at UCD recently. “The European Commission recognises how vitally important it is to invest in agri-food research and innovation,” he said. “There is now broad agreement that the sector must become smarter, leaner and greener. Research must deliver practical solutions in the field and at every other link of the food chain. I know this same principle strongly informs the work being done at UCD.
“The School of Biosystems and Food Engineering has a tradition of research activity, based on a strong collaborative approach, as proven by the large and successful grant application for AgroCycle, under Professor Shane Ward and his colleagues,” he added.
Mankind faces a global challenge regarding the vast quantities of waste generated to sustain our lifestyles. Europe generates in excess of one billion tonnes of waste annually, of which ca. 90 million tonnes are food waste. This high level of waste is not sustainable against the backdrop of environmental impact and the need to feed a rapidly increasing global population. The ‘circular economy’ is based on utilising waste streams as feedstock for new businesses, such as energy and biopharma; or replacing mineral fertilisers with nutrients extracted from agricultural wastes.
AgroCycle takes a full systems approach, from farm right through to the consumer and beyond into the bio-energy and bio-processing industries; utilising these agri-food waste streams as feedstock for high value added bio-products such as biopolymers, nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals and biochemicals.
AgroCycle is a Sino-EU collaborative research venture, with 26 partners from across the EU, China and Hong Kong. The project is funded by the European Commission under its Horizon 2020 programme (€7 million), with additional funding (€1 million) from the governments of the Peoples’ Republic of China and Hong Kong. The project will deliver a protocol for the implementation of the ‘circular economy’ within the agri-food sector. It will contribute to setting policy direction at EU level, and envisages significant global impact.
A seismic shift in citizen awareness and lifestyle is necessary in order for the ‘circular economy’ to become established on a meaningful scale.
With this in mind, the project has a novel programme for early-stage education, designed to introduce the ‘circular economy’ concepts to the youth of Europe and China. Dr Máire Nic an Bhaird at the Froebel Education Department, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, is leading this role where her team will implement pilot-scale curricula in Ireland and elsewhere in Europe. They will work with Chinese partners at the China Agricultural University, Beijing on developing complementary curricula for the Chinese education system.
AgroCycle will establish a web-based Stakeholders’ Platform designed to develop a global network of stakeholders in this domain. Membership of the platform is open to interested parties, and further details can be obtained via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org://www.engineersjournal.ie/2016/07/12/ucd-leads-e8-million-eu-agrocycle-food-engineering-research-project/http://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/J0272490076-1024x683.jpghttp://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/J0272490076-300x300.jpgNewsfood,UCD,waste