By reusing 30% of the sugar from wastewater from the juice industry, the PHBOTTLE project achieved the first prototype packaging made of bioplastic material. After more than four years of research, an international consortium Project PHBOTTLE made the first packaging prototype in the world made of bioplastic material, PHB (polyhydroxybutyrate), obtained from organic residues, mainly sugar, present in waste water from the juice industry.
More precisely, it is a bottle made of polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), a polymer produced by bioproduction (microbial fermentation) in which certain bacteria transform sugars in wastewater and synthesize that type of bioplastic inside.
During the fermentation process carried out with wastewater from the juice industry, up to 30% of the sugars contained in this waste were converted to PHB. PHB bioplastic already exists on the market, but it is the first time that it is obtained from sugar waste water from the fruit juice industry.
The results of the PHBOTTLE R&D project, which is financed by the European Union, were presented in Brussels at the international level, at an international conference organized by the AINIA Technology Center and the European Fruit Juice Association (AIJN).
Achieving this innovative packaging was possible by applying the latest developments in biotechnology, tankmicroencapsulation and compound thanks to which, in addition, it was possible to demonstrate the value of organic waste from the juice industry itself as a raw material for the production of packaging for its products.
The resulting bioplastic material contains improved properties, such as antioxidants, which allow for the extension of the life of the juice. More specifically, using microencapsulation technology, capsules are obtained with antioxidant principles such as limonene, an active compound present in orange peel that is used in the same industry that generates wastewater. These capsules are incorporated into the PHB compound from which the final bottle is produced, in order to achieve an active packaging in which the antioxidant is released little by little and slows down the oxidation processes of the packaged juice.
Likewise, other waste from the food industry was used to improve the resistance and other mechanical properties of the material. More precisely, from rice straw to obtain cellulose microfibers that improve the rigidity of the packaging.
The resulting PHB bottle prototype was used to package juice produced in the very industry that produces wastewater, thus providing an innovative and comprehensive solution to the problems of waste management and environmental impact in this sector. A future solution based on the circular economy.
The results of the PHBOTTLE project represent an innovative and sustainable response to the needs of the juice industry, which is possible thanks to the possibilities offered by new technologies and the development of new packaging materials obtained from organic sources of alternative oils. With these new applications, the waste producer, in this case the juice industry, becomes the beneficiary of the new bioproduct.
Source: AINIA Technological Center / www.ainia.es