Breaking: Flagship Lisheen €30 million bio-refinery research project is the way forward - Commissioner Phil Hogan

Noel Dundon

Reporter:

Noel Dundon

Email:

nd@tipperarystar.ie

Phil Hogan

Philippe Mengal, Minister Michael Creed and Commissioner Phil Hogan pictured at the announcement of the funding for the Lisheen site this afternoon.

Glanbia led AgriChemWay receives €22 million from the European Unions Horizon 2020 research programme with the potential of creating hundreds of jobs.

Thirty years of trying to find a useful by-product for the dairy sector has led to the €30 million investment in the Lisheen bio-economy campus by the Glanbia led AgriChemWay with the 'flagship' project set to revolutionize the way waste sludge is utilised.

The European Commissions €22 million announcement this afternoon for the new bio-economy research project led by Glanbia alongside 11 other partners including Tipperary County Council has been broadly welcomed as a new dawn for the Lisheen site and the catalyst to revolutionising the dairy industry.

The funding from the BioBased Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU)  is part of the European Unions Horizon 2020 research project and is the largest Irish project to be funded under Horizon 2020.  The  project will take low value by-products from the dairy processing industry - excess whey permeate and delactosed whey permeate - and convert them into cost competitive, sustainable lactic acid, which can then be used in value-added bio based products for growing global markets, including biodegradeable plastics, bio based fertiliser and minerals for human nutrition.

There is still some way to go before employment will become evident at Lisheen, but the expectation is that, in time,  the site will become a multi-faceted campus offering many employment opportunities across a range of sectors.

Commissioner Phil Hogan was joined by Agriculture Minister Michael Creed in welcoming the project while Philippe Mengal, Executive Director of BBI JU, Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, Jim Bergin, CEO if Glanbia were also in attendance alongside Tipperary TD's Alan Kelly and Jackie Cahill and Fine Gael election hopeful Garret Ahearn.

This announcement is also good news for the dairy sector which is set to continue its growth trend as a result of increasing demand for whey protein for human and animal nutrition globally and the removal of the milk production quotas in the EU in 2015. With the increase in associated waste streams, Glanbia needed to find a way to re-use the by-products and the new technologies have been a long time in the offing.

AgriChemWay has the potential for replication in other regions across Europe also, contributing towards the development of the European bio-economy to promote rural growth, competitiveness and job creation and aligning with European sustainability targets. 

Glanbia, with a €1.8 billion annual revenue has eleven processing plans, 53 agri branches and over 1,800 employees.