Scientists investigate applications for egg shell “waste”

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 12th April 2012

A research project at the University of Leicester, in the UK, aims to turn egg shells into plastics that could be used for food packaging.

The researchers believe that egg shells could be used to generate income for egg producers rather than being financial drain on their business.

The project aims to find useful ways of recycling egg shells which are currently regarded as waste by food producers who pay to dispose of in landfill.

The researchers are hoping to identify ways to use the egg shells as fillers which could be used to ‘bulk up’ different grades of plastic, with all sorts of applications from ready meal food trays to shop fittings.

University of Leicester’s Professor Andy Abbott, who is leading the project said, “The ultimate goal is to use the egg shells in packaging to protect egg products – giving a second lease of life to the egg shell in the very role it was created for … a true case of recycling.”

Potential benefits for food manufacturers

Leicester hard-boiled egg and mayonnaise manufacturer Just Egg uses around 1.3 million eggs every week, creating around 10 tonnes of egg shells. Currently the firm spends approximately £30,000 a year sending about 480 tonnes of shells to landfill for disposal.

Just Egg’s managing director Pankaj Pancholi said, “If I wasn’t spending the £30,000 a year on landfill costs I could employ another worker or two part-time workers, or invest that money in research and development.”

The project plans to involve a number of small and medium-sized egg-related UK companies.