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CORDIS - Risultati della ricerca dell’UE



Periodo di rendicontazione: 2021-10-01 al 2023-03-31

PROBLEM/ ISSUE BEING ADDRESSED: The Region of Murcia (Spain) has an important agri-food industry. The management of two types of waste generated by this industry are susceptible to improvement. Fruit & vegetable waste is used for animal feeding while it has been demonstrated to be an excellent source of natural bioactives of interest as an alternative to synthetic additives for the food, cosmetic and nutraceutical industry, so this kind of waste can be upcycled to obtain high value substances and as a result and develop more cost-effective waste management systems. On the other hand, many tonnes of post industrial multilayer metallised plastic packaging waste & multilayer plastic agricultural waste are annually produced by this industry, being currently landfilled due to the lack of a viable recycling process. Proper circular solutions are necessary for these two industrial wastes to improve the environmental sustainability of the agri-food industry in the Region of Murcia.

WHY IT IS IMPORTANT FOR SOCIETY: The improvement of the sustainability and circularity of regional economic sectors contributes to the preservation of natural ecosystems, to the reduction in the exploitation of natural resources & finally in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, which is beneficial to society as a whole.

WHAT ARE THE OVERALL OBJECTIVES: To develop the first value chains for the upcycling of most representative agrifood sector waste, demonstrating the technical & economic viability of specific routes for the valorisation of agrifood waste (fruits and vegetables and multilayer plastics). To provide a technological solution with a circular systemic approach by building a multidimensional model enabling the solution's territorial deployment and its replication and scalability, maximising the project impacts.
Several activities and tasks have been performed during this reporting period :

Within work package 1, the specifications & requirements for the different products that are being obtained in the value chains have been defined and evaluated, the first set of recommendations on energy efficiency & sustainable water & wastewater management has been established, the first draft of the residues management plan has been elaborated & the Data Integration System (DIS) digital tool has been developed. The beta version of the Data Integration System is available including a robust traceability system and a predictive tool.

In work package 2, two different routes for the green extraction of bioactives from fruit and vegetable waste have been developed at lab scale. Through the extraction route 1, solid extracts (rich in fibre) and liquid extracts (rich in phenolic compounds and antioxidants) have been obtained. The extraction route 2 has been developed at both laboratory scale & at pilot scale successfully obtaining solid extracts (rich in fibre) and liquid extracts (rich in phenolic compounds and antioxidants). The methodology for the purity and stabilisation of the extract has also been developed, obtaining extracts with the required purity & stability to be further used in cosmetic, food & nutraceutical formulations.

The different technologies & processes for the recycling of the multilayer & metallised plastic films have been developed or are under development as part of work package 3. The process for the cleaning of the multilayer plastic film waste has been tested and defined (grinding/washing/drying) as well as different treatments for the recovery of the water in the washing line. Multilayer metallised film waste has been successfully delaminated & aluminium recovered. Further modification of the aluminium particles was performed obtaining hydrophobic nanoparticles compatible with the different recycled plastic matrixes. Several compounds, with good mechanical properties were prepared using the recycled materials. The technology for the optical sorting of the plastic & enzymatic recycling of polyethylene waste is under development. PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) waste was broken down into its monomers thanks to novel engineered enzymes.

Several food, cosmetic and nutraceutical formulations have been developed using the extract obtained in work package 2 from the fruit & vegetable waste.

Work packages 5, aiming at developing different bioprocesses for the upcycling of waste and by-products, is in progress with several tests conducted at lab scale for the production of building blocks, carotenoids & PHBV (Poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate)).

Next step for the forthcoming reporting period will be the scaling up of the technologies & their integration in 10 demonstrators.

Several activities (within work packages 7 and 8) were performed in order to globally assess & enable the territorial deployment of Agro2Circular circular solution; a) definition of the environmental, socio-cultural & socio-economic evaluation framework, providing the first assessment of the stages of the value chain already scaled up b) The first drafts of the policy brief and of the financing recommendations were elaborated to evaluate barriers and provide recommendations to overcome them c) the exploitation strategy has been defined d) Agro2Circular contribution to standardisation has been evaluated & the relevant committees & standards identified.

When it comes to activities aiming at raising citizens awareness and maximising circular practises (work packages 7 and 8), the dissemination & communication as well as the public engagement strategies have been elaborated and some of the planned activities carried out. A toolkit of guidelines and training materials have been defined which includes, among other materials, the Business Models for Circular Economy Innovations (CEBMs), Guidelines for Public Engagement in circular economy projects and environmental community-based activities, environmental education for the youth and an Industry Mentoring Programme. Important works have been done on joining clusters and other projects to find collaboration and synergies.
62 results have been identified (29 commercial, 11 non-commercial, 22 with both commercial & non-commercial potential), 45 results are individual,17 joint. The results encompass a wide range of types: 14 processes, 8 formulations,9 methodologies , 3 models, 16 products, 8 advancements in knowledge, 2 services, 2 standards.

The societal impact has to do with the benefits for the environment and local economy. The regional deployment of these two circular value chains will contribute to the reduction of finite resources' consumption and greenhouse gases emissions by providing the agri-food , cosmetic, nutraceutical and plastic industry with secondary raw materials. Natural ecosystems will be protected by contributing to zero landfilling through the upcycling of tonnes of residues that are currently considered low-value or under a poorly profitable management or, what is worse, sent to landfill sites. The local economic benefits are clear, by the creation of new local circular business and circular clusters, contributing to job creation at local level in the short to medium term and to the transition to a circular and more sustainable economy at the local level. The impact will also be at the European level as the Agro2Circular solution will be built as a multidimensional circular model, assessing its replicability and scalability in other regions of Europe or for other industrial sectors.