The UK is now the largest global market for Champagne outside France! ERA's partner EBRI, at Aston University, is helping a company to recycle corks from many of these bottles!

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For every bottle popped there's a cork stopper, which up until recently in the UK had no immediate use other than to go into the waste bin!

The European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) at Aston University provides practical solutions for businesses to explore the growing 'Energy-from-Waste' market, and the opportunities it offers. Companies can benefit from specialist support, cutting-edge technologies and bespoke events, including workshops to help stimulate business start-up and growth, plus the development of new products and services.

The Energy Research Accelerator has provided new, state-of-the-art equipment for EBRI, which experts at the Institute can use to provide support for local small businesses involved in its 'Value from Waste' masterclasses.

One of the entrepreneurs who took part in the 'Value from Waste' programme was Sanjay Aggarawal, who had an idea about establishing the UK's first ever cork recycling scheme, and had established a social enterprise known as Recorked UK. 

During the two day masterclass course, Sanjay discovered how new market opportunities can be developed from unwanted material such as food waste, carboard boxes, plastic waste, textile residues, waste oils and many other materials.

Following on from the Master Class event, EBRI provided Sanjay with detailed documented guidance as to whether natural cork material could be used for other purposes, for instance, at an 'energy-from-waste' process.

In the UK, it's estimated that 216 million bottles of sparkling wine are opened every year, generating a massive abundance of unwanted corks. In order to help identify new ways of reusing these redundant bottle stoppers, EBRI's team of specialists analysed the chemical and physical properties of natural cork to identify the most feasible opportunities. As part of this investigation, they looked at the various processes and treatments which could be applied, to see which would be the most efficient process to recover energy from corks.

Included in EBRI's report for Recorked UK were recommendations on alternative uses of cork material, and how it could be used in market sectors such as the pharmaceutical industry. Cork contains a number of useful properties which offer health benefits. For instance, it contains sterols, which may help reduce cholesterol, and also flavonoids which have potential applications in the food, cosmetics and pharmacological industry.

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The EBRI Master Classes are part of a European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) initiative.

Recorked - cork recycling scheme