Wilson Bio-Chemical, Unit 22, Hassacarr Close, Dunnington, York, YO19 5SN | Tel: +44 (0) 1246 264 950 | mail@wilsonbio-chemical.co.uk

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An autoclaver’s view on the coffee cup crisis

Posted on: April 19th, 2018 by Sheila No Comments

Coffee cups; a perfect example of our throwaway culture and how we are now faced with the consequences of single use plastics.

This is a product created simply for convenience and only recently people come to realise the amount of waste produced and ending up in landfill.

Hugh’s War on Waste  reported that 2.5 billion cups a year are used and nearly all of them end up in landfill. When this programme was aired, people were shocked – myself included.  This was a product that people assumed could being recycled and the gigantic numbers associated with it would make your head spin!

Now more than ever we are being confronted with the issue of recycling; plastic recycling being the real culprit.  Whether we are getting this dire wake-up call through the news, social media or Sir David Attenborough, we can no longer deny the threat from plastic pollution.

When thinking about coffee cups, plastic might not be the first material that comes to mind. But it is the mixture of paper and the plastic lining inside the cup that creates issues when recycling; an issue so big that 99.75% of coffee cups are NOT being recycled.

As this is now at the forefront of many discussions, there are several solutions coming forward. However, are solutions like compostable cups, discounts for reusable cups or charging a ‘latte levy’ on paper cups really going to divert this waste from landfill?

We are reading about recycling coffee cups; Costa Coffee has pledged to recycle 500 million cups by 2020, but there are apparently only three facilities in the UK that specialise in this recycling – is this really enough to make a difference?

Another solution that should be taken seriously is steam autoclaving. At Wilson we have trialled batches of coffee cups and have successfully created a biomass fibre from the paper portion which can be used as source of renewable energy and have easily separated the plastic which can be sold back to the industry for reuse.

We are hopeful that steam autoclaving will soon be at the forefront as a solution to coffee cups. We know we can efficiently process this specific waste stream and create products for the circular economy.


processed coffee cups

Wilson’s Grand Opening

Posted on: September 15th, 2016 by Sheila No Comments

Wilson Bio-Chemical has officially opened our Micro Autoclave Fibre Production Plant for turning municipal solid waste (MSW) into biomass fibre that can be converted into a range of useful products. The facility has been developed with the help of the University of York subsidiary, the Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC) and is based at the BDC’s site just outside York. This new technology aims to divert substantial amounts of mixed waste from landfill and produce a range of chemicals and fuels to replace the use of fossil-resource-based products.



The plant was formally opened by Barry Dodd CBE, Chair of the York, North York and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership. In attendance for the day were our colleagues at Hughes Energy Group, potential investors and a delegation of senior government officials.

We have developed and installed a specialised, rotating autoclave which can treat the biological portion of MSW (mainly food waste, garden waste, paper and cardboard) with steam and high pressure and convert it into a sterile fibre (Wilson Fibre®). Biorefinery specialists, the BDC, have provided support and expertise in the development of the new production plant, which at full commercial scale can process 150,000 tonnes of waste per year.

The Micro Autoclave Fibre Production Plant is an important step in the continuing development of what we believe is a game-changing technology, diverting unsorted MSW from landfill and producing valuable feedstock from a renewable source for the biofuel and biochemical markets,’ says Tom Wilson, Managing Director and Principal Engineer of Wilson Bio-Chemical.

‘We are pleased to be working with Wilson Bio-Chemical on their innovative technology and also pleased that they have chosen to site their new pilot-scale plant at the BDC, in order to benefit from our biorefining expertise and facilities,’ says Dr Joe Ross, Director of the BDC.