Project with Recycling Lives recognised by ‘Oscars’ of higher education

A University partnership that has enabled a Lancashire business to make potential savings of £1.5 million a year has been named Most Innovative Contribution to Business-University Collaboration at a prestigious education awards ceremony.

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) collected the accolade at the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards for its Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Preston-based recycling and waste management company Recycling Lives, which has been described as a ‘game changer’ for car recycling.

The awards, known as the ‘Oscars of higher education,’ shine a spotlight on the exceptional achievements of individuals, teams and institutions working in the education sector.

A team led by Dr Ala Khodier, a chemical engineer and associate at UCLan, undertook a two-year study working with Recycling Lives to find a way to divert from landfill and reuse the estimated 1.2 million tonnes of residue left over every year after the company shreds around 100,000 vehicles at the end of their lives.

Once the study had been completed, the team then created a process to transform the residue, made up of foams, rubber, fibres and textiles, into electrical energy. In addition, the team identified metals retained in the residue that can be extracted and returned to the market.

As a result, it’s estimated that Recycling Lives, which uses its recycling activity to support its own projects on prisoner rehabilitation and homelessness, can generate 1,200 megawatts of electricity and make savings of £1.5 million a year.

UCLan and Recycling Lives are now entering into a joint venture that will see their partnership building and owning a £540,000 research facility to commercialise the project.

Prof Karl Williams, Director of the Centre for Waste Management at UCLan, said:  “I feel honoured that we have won this award as it recognises the hard work that both UCLan and Recycling Lives have put in over the years to creating this long-term collaboration.”

Chemical engineer Dr Ala Khodier, of Recycling Lives, said: “I am incredibly honoured that our work has been recognised at such a high level. These findings are the result of a perfect partnership between Recycling Lives and UCLan, exploring how we can achieve best in class recycling processes.”    

John Gill, Editor of Times Higher Education, said: “At a time when universities face challenges and headwinds, when politics and social attitudes can seem to call into question many of the things that they stand for and hold dear, it is particularly important to champion the values, creativity and dedication of those who live and breathe higher education. As ever, our shortlists represent the best of the best, but our judges also reported that this year’s entries were the strongest that they could remember, so all those honoured should be incredibly proud. It’s THE’s great honour to help celebrate their success.”

UCLan also collected the award for Excellence and Innovation in the Arts for UCLan Publishing, the world’s only student-run, not-for-profit trade publishing house which has produced around 150 titles many of which retail through Waterstones, WHSmith and Amazon.

There was further success for the institution in the International Collaboration of the Year category for its efforts to help transfer almost 700 students and staff from the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine to its Preston campus when Hurricane Irma hit in September 2017.

The winners were determined by a judging panel made up of education experts and announced at a ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London. 

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