Plastic packaging made from fermented wastewater could save industry millions

Plastic packaging made from the fermented wastewater of processed juice could save industry millions in production costs and tap into growing consumer demand for environmentally friendly products.

Under the EU-funded PHBOTTLE project, researchers are developing a way of adding value to industrial residues and then developing these into a new biodegradable material.

Project coordinator Ana Valera said: “The main tangible result of the project will be a new bottle made of biodegradable material, which will be obtained through the fermentation of wastewater”.

Project PHBOTTLE is focusing on juice processing wastewater because it contains high amounts of organic substances, including fermentable sugars such as glucose, fructose and maltose.

The concentration of these fermentable sugars can reach 70% of the total organic load, which researchers believe makes juice wastewater an ideal and cheap source of raw material to produce PHB, a type of biopolymer (an organic compound).

In a statement, the European Commission said: “[Fermented wastewater of processed juice] is moisture and vapour resistant, won’t dissolve on contact with water, has see-through properties and offers good protection against oxygen.

It adds: “All these factors help to stop food from spoiling. In other words, the compound is perfect for making biodegradable juice packaging”.

Leigh Stringer

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