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Issue 05/2022

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Highlights: Fibres / Textiles / Nonwovens Building & Construction Basics: Feedstocks K'2022 preview

Materials Single-use

Materials Single-use packaging, lids, and tableware... Pastas Doria develops a biocomposite using its own waste in conjunction with the ITENE research centre Organic waste is more and more becoming a source of resources for biobased raw materials. The Colombian company Pastas Doria (Mosquera, Cundinamarca, Colombia), belonging to Grupo Nutresa (Medellín, Colombia) is a company producing, among other products, pasta and cookies. The company is also strongly working on reuse through recovery and to add value to what has been considered as waste up until now and has developed a new alternative to traditional plastics, in conjunction with the Spanish research centre ITENE (Paterna, Valencia, Spain). bioplastics MAGAZINE talked to Claudia Patricia Collazos, Special Project Leader at Grupo Nutresa, and Miriam Gallur, Materials and Packaging Area Manager at ITENE, to find out more about this new development that is about to come to market. bM: Recovering industrial waste has huge potential.What was your approach to take advantage of the waste generated during the production process? Miriam: Recovering waste is a core line of business in our research centre. In our initial discussions with Claudia from Pastas Doria, we quickly identified the potential of bran waste. It is a plentiful source of waste for the company, as it is produced every day during the wheat milling process to make pasta and biscuits. This means that it is not seasonal, which is one of the disadvantages of other similar waste. In particular, wheat bran was studied both as an additive to produce biocomposite materials and to synthesise new biopolymers. Once the waste had been chemically analysed, the first step of the project was to use it as an additive to PLA to produce biocomposites, as this is quick to implement at industrial scale. The required pre-treatment has been carried out at Pastas Doria’s factory and the production of the biocomposite and its industrial applications can be performed with conventional plastic processing machinery. The material developed is suitable for packaging and complies with food contact legislation as well as industrial compostability standards. bM: Why did a food company decide to venture into the field of biomaterials in the first place? What were the drivers behind Pastas Doria’s decision? Claudia: Grupo Nutresa’s sustainability strategy, as part of the Misión Mega 2030, and more specifically in terms of looking after the planet, encouraged us to undertake a whole host of Circular Economy initiatives. We obtain lots of by-products from our coffee, chocolate, pasta, biscuits, icecream, and meat manufacturing businesses, and we started to ask ourselves how we could extract value from them. We applied the Design Thinking methodology and came up with the idea of developing biomaterials. These are by-products to be recovered and returned to a new production process as raw materials. A decision was made to focus on wheat bran. bM: Why did you choose wheat bran? Caudia: The pasta and biscuit businesses generate around 66,406 tonnes/year of wheat bran in their manufacturing processes. We had always sold this waste as animal feed and wanted to explore other ways of using it. We submitted our idea to a round of financing within a Grupo Nutresa innovation call and we won. This gave us access to venture capital, which meant we could develop the biocomposite with ITENE. bM: How did you go about transforming this waste into a new material? What obstacles did you come up against? Miriam: This project has gone through all the Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs), which go from a scale of 1 to 9, where 9 is the most mature technology, which means that it can be rolled out successfully. We started out three years ago with a TRL 2 for basic research to develop the material. We studied the extraction of only cellulose from the bran through to the direct use of different percentages of the bran that did not impair the main properties we wanted to obtain with the biocomposite, which was basically to avoid any loss of mechanical, water-vapour, and oxygen-barrier performance. Once validated in the laboratory, it was upscaled to TRL 6, where the biocomposites were developed at laboratory scale in ITENE by extrusion and the specific formula that complied with performance, food safety and industrial compostability was validated. Now we can say that the project is at semi-industrial scale, i.e., TRL 8, and it is almost at TRL 9, as it has been successfully produced at semi-industrial scale in ITENE’s pilot facilities. The main barriers we encountered were the degradation of waste components during the production processes. The objective was to obtain a formula containing the highest percentage of waste versus the selected biopolymer in order to maximise the amount of Pastas Doria’s waste that could be recovered. This meant having to carefully define the conditions required to use the highest percentage of waste in the formula and yet avoid substances that would degrade and subsequently migrate into the food. bM: Are we likely to see this product on the shelves in the near future? What end-use applications are currently envisaged? 42 bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/22] Vol. 17

...made from wheat bran Materials Claudia: Yes, in the very near future. We have already developed a lid for containers (jars & pots) cups, singleuse cutlery and plates, scoops for scooping ice cream, ice-cream sticks, and many other applications. We are currently in the process of setting up a production plant to manufacture this new material in Cartagena de Indias (Colombia), which should be up and running by November. From there we hope to be able to distribute and market the product around the world. The company is a start-up called Tribio, which is an intrapreneurial venture within Grupo Nutresa, and will be producing the raw material for manufacturers of packaging materials and single-use plastics, as these are banned in Colombia and in many other South American countries, just as they are in Europe. We see this as a great business opportunity to create an alternative to conventional plastic. bM: Have you thought about manufacturing your own packaging with this new material? Claudia: Yes, at the moment we are going to use it in various Grupo Nutresa divisions. We have already thought about using this biocomposite for specific products such as ice-cream sticks and coffee capsules. We also have plastic converters located in Chile, Colombia, Central America, and the United States that are interested. For the moment, we want to focus on single-use plastics, and food and cosmetic packaging. bM: The product you have developed is food contact grade and complies with food legislation. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is in the process of authorising wheat bran for food contact in the United States at the moment. What is the current state of play on this issue? Miriam: Yes, you are right. We are pending FDA approval for food safety of the biocomposite, and we expect a positive response in the next three months. ITENE is also testing its food contact compatibility, according to European Regulation (EU) No 10/2011 on plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with food. Global and specific migration tests of the final material in different food simulants have been carried out too. All the results have been positive, and the material is ready to be used in different food applications. Its industrial compostability was also successfully validated according to the EN 13432 European standard in ITENE’s laboratories. MT bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/22] Vol. 17 43

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