CIRCULARISING THE SCOTTISH LEATHER INDUSTRY

The project supports Scottish Leather Group’s commitment to a circular process by finding new uses for Greaves, one of the by-products of the leather production process.

Scottish Leather Group (SLG) have undertaken an IBioIC-funded feasibility project to identify properties of their by-product which could open up new market opportunities.

Academics at Heriot Watt University helped SLG analyse the properties of greaves to enable the company to realise the full market potential of this product.

What is greaves?

Greaves is a product of the rendering process after the fats have been removed. It can be used as an additive to pet food, but SLG suspected that there may be other unexplored functions of the material.

A search for functional proteins

There is high demand for sustainable sources of proteins with specific functions that can replace or reduce our reliance on chemicals. Dr Nik Willoughby and Dr Kelly Stewart performed a series of tests on the processed greaves for visco-elasticity, gel formation, emulsification, foaming, water retention and film formation. They also assessed the amino acid composition of the material to help predict functionality.

Which functions are most useful?

This feasibility study has opened up a lot of opportunity for SLG. The next steps for this project will be to undertake some extensive market research to determine which properties will be most useful and how the processing can be scaled up. Further funding is being sought to explore this opportunity for SLG to unlock the potential of a high volume by-product.

“This work has highlighted new areas of R&D for deriving a soluble protein with useful functionality from these by products.” Warren Bowden, SLG