Scotland’s efforts to promote sustainability had their day in the sun this week. For the last four days, the eye-catching UK Pavilion at the Expo 2015 in Milan – the latest in a long line of world fairs – has been given over to the Scottish government to host various food and drink related events.
The striking “Grown in Britain and Northern Ireland” pavilion hosted “Scotland at the Expo”, which included presentations from Scotland Food & Drink, Diageo, the Scottish Whisky Association and Zero Waste Scotland all centred around the theme of sustainability and the “circular economy”.
The theme of Expo 2015, “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”, is reflected in the bee hive-shaped edifice of the British pavilion, intended by its award-winning designer Wolfgang Buttress to show “the UK as a hive of innovation and creativity”.
Among the Scottish companies featured was Celtic Renewables, a spin-out from Edinburgh Napier University’s Biofuel Research Centre, currently commercialising products made from the ‘leftovers’ of Scotland’s £4-billion a year malt whisky industry. The company has patented a fermentation process which uses whisky industry by-products to produce biofuels for cars and lorries as well as high-grade animal feed.
Last week the company was awarded £11 million from the UK Government’s Green Fuel Fund and hopes to build its first demonstration facility at the Grangemouth petrochemical plant by 2018.
Also featured was Horizon Proteins, an innovative Scottish company that aims to transform underused resources from the food and drink industry into higher value, sustainable protein products, such as salmon feed.
Iain Gulland chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland said: “This is all about demonstrating to the world what we are doing in Scotland. We have a good tale to tell about sustainability and Scotland’s £14 billion a year food and drink industry. It is a significant part of our economy and we hope to make connections with other companies and countries exhibiting at the Expo.”
Milan’s Expo 2015 has been plagued by allegations of corruption surrounding the seven-year struggle to hold the event, featuring alleged Mafia involvement, mass arrests and repeated delays.
The Italian government originally set aside €1.3 billion euros (£950m) in capital expenditure for the project but rising costs and transport improvements brought total spending to €12.5bn (£9bn). The six-month jamboree – described as a cross between a trade convention and a theme park – showcases new technologies and products from around the globe.