CO2 from brewing beer will be used to help make crisps

Go for a pint to save the world! Carbon dioxide made when brewing beer will be used to help make crisps – and snack giant Walkers claims it will cut its emissions by up to 70%

  • The technique to use waste to produce fertiliser was created by UK startup CCn 
  • It involves mixing potato waste products with CO2 from the brewing process 
  • This produces a fertiliser that doesn’t produce CO2 emissions when created
  • Walkers is installing the equipment in 2021 and will use it on a 2022 potato crop 

Going out for a pint of beer in the future could help save the planet, as crisp firm Walkers plan to use CO2 produced in a brewery to create fertiliser for potatoes. 

The firm, owned by PepsiCo, have adopted a technique developed by UK-start up CCm, that involves taking CO2 captured from beer fermentation and mixing it with potato waste to create a fertiliser that can be spread on the next years potato crop.

The process could cut crisp manufacturing emissions by 70 per cent, according to PepsiCo, as creating a fertiliser normally produces high CO2 emissions.

Creating fertiliser from beer and crisps doesn’t generate any CO2 and stops CO2 emissions from the brewery process from going into the atmosphere, Walkers said. 

The firm hasn’t said exactly when the first crisps will be released made from potatoes grown using the new fertiliser – but they expect to use it on the 2022 crop.

The firm, owned by PepsiCo, have adopted a technique developed by UK-start up CCm, that involves taking CO2 captured from beer fermentation and mixing it with potato waste to create a fertiliser that can be spread on the next years potato crop. Stock image

CCn, a 14-employee team, received a grant from the UK government to develop the novel process and trialled the beer-based fertiliser on potato seed beds this year. 

The trial on a small batch of seed potatoes was dubbed a ‘promising trial of the fertiliser’ by PepsiCo, who will next work to roll out production on a wider scale.

They said once the equipment is installed and fertiliser produced at scale, it will reduce CO2 emissions generated from potato production by 70 per cent. 

The technology is designed to connect to the Walkers anaerobic digestor, which uses food waste to generate nearly 75 per cent of the electricity used at the plant.

They say this helps to ensure the company sends ‘zero-waste’ to landfill by taking the by-product of this anaerobic digestion process and using it to make fertiliser. 

By turning potato waste into a reusable resource, the firm says they are ‘driving more circularity in the potato growing process’.

The aim is that this in turn helps farmers reduce their impact on the environment. 

PepsiCo says as part of a wider agriculture programme UK growers have achieved a 50 per cent cut in their water use and carbon emissions. 

‘From circular potatoes to circular crops, this innovation with CCm Technologies could provide learnings for the whole of the food system,’ said PepsiCo director of European Agriculture David Wilkinson.

He said this would enable the agriculture sector to play its part in combating climate change, adding it was just the start of an ambitious journey. 

‘This initiative is a step in the right direction, and we will continue working hard to lower the carbon impact of our products from field, through manufacturing sites, to consumption.’ 

Pawel Kisielewski, CCm Founding Director said the partnership with PepsiCo will demonstrate the ‘huge potential that innovative approaches can have’.

The trial on a small batch of seed potatoes was dubbed a ‘promising trial of the fertiliser’ by PepsiCo, who will next work to roll out production on a wider scale in the coming years

He said this particularly applies to promoting sustainable agriculture across the UK by enabling the sustainable reuse of waste resources and the locking of captured carbon back into the soil.

‘Our partnership represents a significant step forward in proving that agriculture can play a role in carbon reduction and the circular economy,’ Kisielewski said.

CO2 produced when fertiliser is made has been largely responsible for keeping emissions from agriculture static even as other emissions begin to fall.

CCm says fertiliser produced using its process is about the same price as fertiliser produced the conventional, emission intensive way.

Peter Hammond from CCm told BBC News there was an increased public awareness that something needs to be done about the climate, adding ‘lots of baby steps have come together to make something significant’. 

‘The key challenge for us as a business wasn’t getting down the cost – it was marketing the fertiliser. This link with PepsiCo takes care of that for us.’

Revealed: MailOnline dissects the impact greenhouse gases have on the planet – and what is being done to stop air pollution


Carbon dioxide

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the biggest contributors to global warming. After the gas is released into the atmosphere it stays there, making it difficult for heat to escape – and warming up the planet in the process. 

It is primarily released from burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas, as well as cement production. 

The average monthly concentration of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere, as of April 2019, is 413 parts per million (ppm). Before the Industrial Revolution, the concentration was just 280 ppm. 

CO2 concentration has fluctuated over the last 800,000 years between 180 to 280ppm, but has been vastly accelerated by pollution caused by humans. 

Nitrogen dioxide 

The gas nitrogen dioxide (NO2) comes from burning fossil fuels, car exhaust emissions and the use of nitrogen-based fertilisers used in agriculture.

Although there is far less NO2 in the atmosphere than CO2, it is between 200 and 300 times more effective at trapping heat.

Sulfur dioxide 

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) also primarily comes from fossil fuel burning, but can also be released from car exhausts.

SO2 can react with water, oxygen and other chemicals in the atmosphere to cause acid rain. 

Carbon monoxide 

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an indirect greenhouse gas as it reacts with hydroxyl radicals, removing them. Hydroxyl radicals reduce the lifetime of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. 


What is particulate matter?

Particulate matter refers to tiny parts of solids or liquid materials in the air. 

Some are visible, such as dust, whereas others cannot be seen by the naked eye. 

Materials such as metals, microplastics, soil and chemicals can be in particulate matter.

Particulate matter (or PM) is described in micrometres. The two main ones mentioned in reports and studies are PM10 (less than 10 micrometres) and PM2.5 (less than 2.5 micrometres).

Air pollution comes from burning fossil fuels, cars, cement making and agriculture 

Scientists measure the rate of particulates in the air by cubic metre.

Particulate matter is sent into the air by a number of processes including burning fossil fuels, driving cars and steel making.

Why are particulates dangerous?

Particulates are dangerous because those less than 10 micrometres in diameter can get deep into your lungs, or even pass into your bloodstream. Particulates are found in higher concentrations in urban areas, particularly along main roads. 

Health impact

What sort of health problems can pollution cause?

According to the World Health Organization, a third of deaths from stroke, lung cancer and heart disease can be linked to air pollution. 

Some of the effects of air pollution on the body are not understood, but pollution may increase inflammation which narrows the arteries leading to heart attacks or strokes. 

As well as this, almost one in 10 lung cancer cases in the UK are caused by air pollution. 

Particulates find their way into the lungs and get lodged there, causing inflammation and damage. As well as this, some chemicals in particulates that make their way into the body can cause cancer. 

Deaths from pollution 

Around seven million people die prematurely because of air pollution every year. Pollution can cause a number of issues including asthma attacks, strokes, various cancers and cardiovascular problems. 


Asthma triggers

Air pollution can cause problems for asthma sufferers for a number of reasons. Pollutants in traffic fumes can irritate the airways, and particulates can get into your lungs and throat and make these areas inflamed. 

Problems in pregnancy 

Women exposed to air pollution before getting pregnant are nearly 20 per cent more likely to have babies with birth defects, research suggested in January 2018.

Living within 3.1 miles (5km) of a highly-polluted area one month before conceiving makes women more likely to give birth to babies with defects such as cleft palates or lips, a study by University of Cincinnati found.

For every 0.01mg/m3 increase in fine air particles, birth defects rise by 19 per cent, the research adds. 

Previous research suggests this causes birth defects as a result of women suffering inflammation and ‘internal stress’. 

What is being done to tackle air pollution? 

Paris agreement on climate change

The Paris Agreement, which was first signed in 2015, is an international agreement to control and limit climate change. 

It hopes to hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 2°C (3.6ºF) ‘and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C (2.7°F)’.

Carbon neutral by 2050 

The UK government has announced plans to make the country carbon neutral by 2050. 

They plan to do this by planting more trees and by installing ‘carbon capture’ technology at the source of the pollution.

Some critics are worried that this first option will be used by the government to export its carbon offsetting to other countries.

International carbon credits let nations continue emitting carbon while paying for trees to be planted elsewhere, balancing out their emissions.

No new petrol or diesel vehicles by 2040

In 2017, the UK government announced the sale of new petrol and diesel cars would be banned by 2040.  

However,  MPs on the climate change committee have urged the government to bring the ban forward to 2030, as by then they will have an equivalent range and price.

The Paris Agreement, which was first signed in 2015, is an international agreement to control and limit climate change. Pictured: air pollution over Paris in 2019.

Norway’s electric car subsidies

The speedy electrification of Norway’s automotive fleet is attributed mainly to generous state subsidies. Electric cars are almost entirely exempt from the heavy taxes imposed on petrol and diesel cars, which makes them competitively priced.

A VW Golf with a standard combustion engine costs nearly 334,000 kroner (34,500 euros, $38,600), while its electric cousin the e-Golf costs 326,000 kroner thanks to a lower tax quotient. 

Criticisms of inaction on climate change

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has said there is a ‘shocking’ lack of Government preparation for the risks to the country from climate change. 

The committee assessed 33 areas where the risks of climate change had to be addressed – from flood resilience of properties to impacts on farmland and supply chains – and found no real progress in any of them.

The UK is not prepared for 2°C of warming, the level at which countries have pledged to curb temperature rises, let alone a 4°C rise, which is possible if greenhouse gases are not cut globally, the committee said.

It added that cities need more green spaces to stop the urban ‘heat island’ effect, and to prevent floods by soaking up heavy rainfall. 

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