AN ENERGY firm that is headquartered in Romsey has partnered with a circular economy business to convert agricultural waste such as straw into paper packaging.

Hive Energy joined up with Horsham-based Nafici Group to invest in Nafici Environmental Research (NER) which converts agricultural waste, including wheat straw, into EcoPulp; an alternative to wood-based pulps in the production of paper packaging materials.

The firm said it decided to act as packaging is a major environmental concern, with many industries looking to move away from non-biodegradable, fossil-fuel plastics.

One alternative is the use of paper, card, and moulded fibre packaging. However, these materials require the use of wood pulp, the production of which raises environmental implications.

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NER’s patented process allows for EcoPulp, an alternative to wood pulp to be produced from waste that is often otherwise incinerated or left to rot, releasing CO2 into the atmosphere.

Giles Redpath, CEO of Hive Energy, said: “Nafici Environmental Research is an innovative, low carbon business, which aligns with our mission to reduce carbon emissions.

"EcoPulp production has great potential to reduce the amount of moulded packaging made from plastic or wood-pulp, which is beneficial for the environment. The product has great functional qualities, and it is especially beneficial as it uses waste straw as a base product, which would otherwise be most likely incinerated or landfilled."

Florence Nafici, CEO of Nafici Environmental Research, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Hive Energy who will be a great strategic partner for NER’s global development outside China and are fully aligned with our circular economy vision and values."

It said that ecopulping is more environmentally friendly than traditional wood pulping: with up to a 95 per cent reduction of water usage and a 50 per cent reduction of energy consumed.

It can also be used to make food-contact grade moulded fibre packaging.

NER plans to build its first full scale ecopulping facility in England, with a feasibility study and site search commencing straight after Hive’s investment.

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