Oban firm makes waves with new product

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Oban is fighting the war on plastic with Scottish biotechnology company CuanTec, based at the European Centre for Marine Biotechnology at Dunstaffnage, using langoustine shells to produce compostable food packaging.

Langoustines normally take pride of place on a fish platter in the many seafood restaurants in Oban and across the country, as one of Scotland’s premier seafood products.

But now the waste shells can be processed by CuanTec as a natural alternative to the petroleum-based plastics which are polluting our seas and harming sea-life.

‘Cait Murray-Green, chief executive of CuanTec, said: ‘Our inspiration comes from wanting to find better use for seafood waste. We extract chitin,
a naturally occurring biopolymer, from shellfish waste. Using a clean, energy-efficient biological fermentation method, we convert this into an alternative to plastic food wrap.

‘The company has been around two and a half years, and we’ve grown from three people in one lab in BioCity, Glasgow, to a team of 14 with our additional lab facility in Oban.

‘Earlier this year we entered into an exciting partnership with Waitrose and Partners, which hopes to use our bio-plastic as an alternative to conventional plastic film on some of its fish products in the near future.’

Cuan, meaning ocean in Gaelic, is a member of Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC).

Ian Archer, technical director at IBioIC, added: ‘CuanTec is a biotechnology success story for Oban. It shows how an innovative idea can be supported and nurtured and can then help create local jobs in the important waste to wealth economy.’

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