16 March 2022

STEM graduates will play key roles in rescuing us from the climate emergency

It is widely accepted that human ingenuity will provide the solutions that empower us to cut carbon emissions and halt global warming. We are already seeing some of the world’s most exciting technology being used to address the problems we face. Efficient wind turbines are part of the landscape, sleek electric cars are commonplace, and houses are being designed that generate more energy than they use.

These are highly visible technologies but there is a wealth of innovation being applied to address a massive climate problem you might not have considered - waste. And our colleagues at Olleco who are helping to tackle the problem head on with cutting-edge solutions, are Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) graduates.

To achieve carbon zero, we need zero waste

Food waste alone is estimated to be responsible for between 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions₁. That’s more than three times the emissions from all of the world’s aviation₂. However, with the right technologies, waste can be transformed into renewable fuels that can benefit the environment by reducing our need for fossil fuels.

Used cooking oil can be converted into biodiesel while food waste can be processed to capture the harmful methane it would emit in landfill. This can then be used either as biogas, to be fed into the gas grid, or to generate green electricity. The resulting digestate can also be used to replace artificial fertilisers which account for 3-4% of the world’s fossil fuel use₃.

To help achieve these extraordinary transformations, we employ an array of STEM graduates and specialists. This includes Chemical Engineers, Biochemists, Mechanical Engineers, Electrical Engineers, IT and Systems Engineers and, of course, we use Statisticians to report the full scale of the impacts we are achieving.

STEM graduates are central to our future success

As a company, our primary focus is to help our customers reduce their impact on the environment and make food sustainable. Not simply by reducing the carbon impacts of their waste materials but by transforming those valuable resources into renewable energy. The key to transforming those waste materials is technology in the form of biorefineries and anaerobic digestion plants and we pride ourselves in setting new standards in everything we do.

You can see these innovative technologies in action, operating our biorefinery to the most advanced technical standards and collaborating closely with vehicle fleets’ technical teams. This has enabled customers to reduce their vehicle emissions by 88%.

Our anaerobic digestion plants are equally cutting-edge. By locating our flagship plant alongside Arla’s Aylesbury dairy, our technical team have helped make it the world’s largest net zero carbon dairy.

Waste reduction is also a key strand of the way we help our customers. Our OilSense Engineers work closely with food factories and fast food retailers to design and engineer innovative systems and processes that help them operate more efficiently and sustainably.  

The core skill that all of our STEM graduates get to employ is problem solving. And our commitment to the use of innovative and cutting-edge technologies means there is always an exciting variety of challenges.

Working with highly combustible materials such as methane and biodiesel means that our technical teams have to devise and configure solutions that operate to the very highest safety levels. Maintaining these standards and adapting to a fast-changing regulatory landscape is vital to protect the company, our people and the wider environment.  

Because technology lies at the very heart of what we do, there are excellent opportunities for STEM graduates to progress within the company. A recent Chemical Engineering graduate, who was initially appointed as Project Engineer on our Aylesbury facility, quickly went on to become Plant Manager. She now heads our Chief Executive’s Office.

“I feel we are making a positive contribution to solving the climate challenge. I love the people I work with, the variety of challenges, and the impact that our business has.” Ciara, MEng Chemical Engineering

The market for STEM graduates is growing fast

With a constant demand for innovative, new science and technology across the planet, STEM graduates are in an exciting position. STEM occupations are forecast to increase by 4.3% by 2027₄. Already, more than 150 world-leading engineers, scientists and technology companies, led by the Institute of Engineering and Technology, have asked the British Government to address a growing STEM skills gap - estimated to be costing the economy £1.5bn per year₅.

That demand for STEM graduates is reflected in the people we are looking for at Olleco. You will find a wide range of STEM-related opportunities on our recruitment page. We have also created graduate training and undergraduate placement programmes designed to attract people committed to using their STEM skills to make a real difference to our planet.

“I love the day-to-day variety of my job - working closely with engineers and other disciplines in a developing field. It is definitely a silver lining, on busy and challenging days, to know that you’re working for a better future.” Benjamin, (MEng) Site Engineer and Technical Manager



There’s no doubt that people going into STEM jobs have a lot to look forward to. Not just in terms of career progression but in the satisfaction of knowing that they are playing an active role in protecting everyone’s future. There’s never been a better or more important time to encourage people you know to pursue a STEM career and, if you have already embarked on one yourself and you think you could help us achieve our ambitious climate goals, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


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