The AMRC Cymru awarded £2m to open sustainable food packaging hub

Posted on 24 Sep 2020 by Tom Lane

AMRC Cymru have been awarded £2m by the Welsh Government to build a state-of-the-art Food and Drink Packaging Sustainability Centre.

The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), have been awarded £2m by the Welsh Government to build a Food and Drink Packaging Sustainability Centre.

AMRC Cymru has secured the BITES (Business, Innovation and Tourism Escalator Scheme) funding to develop an emerging technology demonstrator specifically for the food and drink sector that will accelerate the adoption of waste-reducing eco-innovations by integrating Industry 4.0 technologies in the packaging industry.

Situated on the Deeside Enterprise Zone and opened in November 2019, AMRC Cymru is a £20m state-of-the-art research and development facility paid for by Welsh Government. The first High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult centre in Wales, AMRC Cymru operates a 2,000 square metre open access research area.

Food and Drink Wales believe the sustainability centre will become a hub for the uptake of emerging technologies and materials in the food and drink packaging supply chain. Beyond that, Welsh Government want the AMRC to take a lead on the adoption of waste-reducing eco-innovations in the sector that work towards increased productivity and lower Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).

The demonstrator will exhibit the AMRC’s capabilities in advanced automation, collaborative robotics, additive manufacturing and visualisation; there will also be prototyping and functional test equipment for new packaging solutions and ideas.

Opened in November 2019, AMRC Cymru is situated in the Deeside Enterprise Zone in Broughton, and focuses on advanced manufacturing sectors including aerospace, automotive, nuclear and food. Image: HVMC

AMRC Cymru

Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment, Energy & Rural Affairs, said: “Our ambition is to raise Wales’ international profile and proactively market our innovation in quality food and drink to the world. I believe the innovations we are exploring at AMRC Cymru can deliver a range of measures to future-proof the industry in Wales.

“We want to see the food, drink and packaging industry reducing its reliance on manual labour and increase skill levels within the sector so we are extremely interested in exploring innovation in processes. This will drive forward the industry into a new era of green growth in the Welsh economy and it is vital the sector responds to these high potential opportunities. This can only be achieved by urgently developing new processes and incorporating the new technologies to tackle single-use plastic and recycling.”

AMRC Cymru’s Operations Director, Jason Murphy, said: “The conversion of our facility to producing medical ventilators since March has unfortunately delayed the completion of the Food and Drink Packaging Sustainability Centre. However, that delay has given us the time to model the demonstrator virtually and consider how we can best set it up so that visiting SMEs can gain the most from it.”

“This will hopefully be one of our key strength areas at AMRC Cymru and nearly all of our engineers here in Broughton will be working on aspects of the demonstrator. Ideally, we would like to be able to invite visitors in to see it sometime in 2021.”