Organic waste recovery
Managing and treating organic waste or bio-waste is a major challenge for most towns and cities, waste managers and businesses in which it is generated, mainly in the agri-food industry.
Waste management policies need to address this waste due to its volume which can pose an environmental problem, yet at the same time it has huge potential since it can be turned into new raw materials for biotech-based industries.
Why recover your organic waste?
The new waste framework directive, Directive 2018/851, requires all European Union member states to:
- Roll out separate organic waste collection by the end of 2023 in all municipalities.
- Hit new recycling targets of 55% by 2025, 60% by 2030 and 65% by 2035.
Meanwhile, Directive 2018/850 sets a cap for waste landfilled at 10% of total municipal waste by 2035. Action on organic waste is crucial to achieving this.
What products can be made from organic waste recovery and which industries can reap the benefits?
- Organic acids
- Food additives
- Organic acids
- Biocontrol agents
Obtaining chitin as a reinforcement for food packaging
ITENE has been working on extracting high added-value compounds such as chitin and chitosan from Hermetia illucens (black soldier fly) which degrades organic waste from the hospitality channel (hotels, restaurants and catering) and supermarkets by ingestion. The project involves harnessing sustainable chemistry techniques and developing processes which can be scaled up in an industrial environment.
Both chitin and chitosan are of great interest in several application areas such as:
- water treatment (using chitosan as a natural coagulant)
- food (food additives and animal feed)
- agriculture (fertiliser and plant defence stimulant)
Specifically, ITENE is researching chitin nanofibres for use as reinforcement in the formulation of composite materials for food packaging and in developing bio-based and biodegradable coatings. The main purpose is to enhance the oxygen permeability and thermal stability of various types of plastics which will extend the shelf-life of packaged foods.
Obtaining bioplastics from agricultural waste and OFMSW
ITENE has developed a process for recovering bio-waste from the agri-food industry (mainly fruit and vegetables) and the organic fraction of municipal solid waste (OFMSW) to produce biomaterials for packaging.
Biomaterials with the same properties and quality as the bioplastics currently on the market have been obtained thanks to the development of biotech processes based on enzymatic hydrolysis and bioconversion processes.
These waste-based biomaterials deliver a solution to the two biggest current challenges: the huge amount of organic waste and the transition towards compostable bioplastics.
How can I help you?
Head of the Industrial and Environmental Biotechnology Unit