To give a second life to the vast amount of vegetables and fruits residues that are generated on farms, it can be applied two tracks of revaluation for converting the residues into products of high added value.
These two tracks, from the waste vegetables of the melon, watermelon, cucumber, zucchini and peppers, consist on:
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- The extraction of food compounds for the production food preservatives and bioactive ingredients, such as vitamins, antioxidants and dyes.
- The HYDROLYZING of waste to obtain alcohol from their sugars, which improve the existing bioplastics. In this way, the bioplastics produced can be used as a sustainable packaging, since they are readily biodegradable in addition to be manufactured from waste reconverted of the own horticultural products.
In this way it is closed a circle of production and consumption and gives rise to the circular economy, in which sustainability and respect toward the environment lead the whole process.
The project that changed the landscape of agricultural residues
All of this has been carried out in Spain, specifically in the whole orchard of the Autonomous Community of Andalusia, thanks to the project BIOVEGE.
This project of revaluation of agricultural residues has been funded by the CDTI with 1.17 million euros through the INTERCONNECTA program and the FEDER funds, and was supported by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, taking the project a total budget of 2.4 million, and was developed between 2015 and the end of 2017.
Between its results we can find new developments from residues of products harvested in the orchard Almería:
For example, it has been developed from by-products of the watermelon and melon different types of films and biodegradable oriented mesh for the packaging of different agricultural products.
In addition, starting from other waste horticultural products such as tomato and pepper they have been able to extract active substances such as vitamins, antioxidants and colorants that have resulted in innovative products such as:
- A single dose of vinaigrette sauce supplemented with freeze-dried tomatoes and olive oil,
- Gazpacho ready to blend made with freeze-dried by-products of tomato, pepper and cucumber,
- Prepared antioxidants for meat products,
- Flour tomato/pepper flavored with high antioxidant capacity
- And natural dyes from by-products of freeze-dried red pepper as a substitute for synthetic dyes.
The consortium that brought to light the BIOVEGE project
The project is led by the Union Alhóndiga, and also involved five other companies such as Torres Morente, ecoplas, Domca, NEOL, and Morera and Vallejo.
As Technical Coordinator participates AIMPLAS research center, which is joined three other research centers such as Tecnalia, Cidaf and Cajamar Foundation.
Each of the partners contributed with its knowledge in every phase of the project. From the valorisation of waste to the development and validation of new packaging and bioactive ingredients.
The new era of biotechnology is already bearing fruit: the waste is converted into new products, with a greater value in their properties and more respectful with the environment.
Image credits: Alexander Raths / shutterstock.com