WASTE2FUNC's new platform turns food waste into bioplastics

WASTE2FUNC’s new platform turns food waste into bioplastics

Biobased

Belgium – Waste2FUNC, a BBI-JU funded project, has been awarded a EUR 6,7 million grant to build a platform to efficiently collect food waste from agriculture, food processing industries, supermarkets, auction houses, and restaurants.

There is no value in these food wastes because they are thrown away, left on the field, or burned. In the future, they’ll be valuable raw materials for the production of bioplastics and biosurfactants, which can be used in cosmetics, household products, and personal care. For this conversion, industrial biotechnology is being incorporated. 12 partners from five countries are involved in the project, including small businesses, large corporations like Croda, Evonik, and Ecover, and agricultural organizations. In Belgium and Europe, the platform is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 20%, increase waste value 2-10 times, and create jobs in both the upstream and downstream sectors.

End-use

Currently, food waste streams such as bad batches from food processing companies that can no longer be sold, or fruits and vegetables that don’t meet the standards, often have no possible end-use route. This results in unnecessary CO2 emissions, as they either rot on the field or are discarded. Fortunately, WASTE2FUNC has a solution for this issue.

To begin with, the logistics platform must be established so that food waste streams can be efficiently collected without end use. Thus, the project aims to create an app/website to register food waste flows from the agricultural and gastronomic industries for collection by a waste collector. On how the project can make the collection of such food wastes worthwhile for farmers and what compensation should be given in return, farmers will be extensively consulted. This new revenue model for farmers will be examined in detail. In addition, farmers and industry representatives will meet to discuss the availability of these waste streams.

Joint effort

In order to turn the waste collected into useful molecules that can be used in commercial products, twelve partners from five countries are involved, including several small businesses and three large corporations. Large corporations like Evonik, Croda, and Ecover will test and evaluate the project’s functional ingredients in finished products.

A biorefinery that produces functional molecules from food waste is the goal at the end of the project, and the researchers hope to learn more about how to make that happen. Bioplastics, cosmetics, biological detergents, and a wide range of other products can be made from these functional molecules after they are extracted. WASTE2FUNC’s circular approach and use of renewable resources will contribute to a more sustainable industry. At least 20% less CO2 will be released into the atmosphere compared to the current production processes of these molecules, and the value of waste will be increased by 2 to 10 times.

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