South West College are leading a new project which aims to tackle the little recognised but significant problem of recycling contaminated food waste packaging.

Funded by the Ecosurety Exploration Fund, the RE:Solve project is being delivered in collaboration with project partner, Ulster University and preliminary findings from the project team were presented at the ESAI Environ conference held at the Ulster University Belfast campus last month. The project is exploring the processing of food waste and its removal from plastic packaging at Anaerobic Digestion plants and aims to reduce the amount of food waste that is consigned to landfill where it decomposes releasing harmful greenhouse gases.

At the conference, Charlie Farrell from South West College’s RE:Solve team presented a poster of the current work, detailing a novel process to tackle the waste problem, and also illustrated the characterisation work that is taking place to help determine the best route for the recycling of the plastic waste once it has passed through the cleaning process.

Speaking of the conference, Dr Ashlene Vennard, Project Manager, said;

‘Attending the Environ UnLocking Sustainability conference was really worthwhile as it presented us with an opportunity to highlight both the work of the RE:Solve project and the importance of tackling this problematic waste stream.

The event enabled us to attend a number of sustainability themed talks and seminars and to build connections with researchers working on other initiatives related to micro-plastics - something which we hope to investigate in further as part of this project.’

For further information about the RE:Solve project please visit