INGREEN

Production of functional innovative ingredients from paper and agro-food side-streams through sustainable and efficient tailor-made biotechnological processes for food, feed, pharma and cosmetics.

Summary

There is a steadily-growing demand for bio-based chemicals, as they increasingly find new applications in industrial chemicals and pharmaceuticals as ingredients for food, feed and in agriculture. The side streams and by-products of paper mills and agro-food production offer particularly rich sources of unexploited organic fractions suitable for exploitation.

The purpose of the INGREEN project is to demonstrate the feasibility of sustainable, efficient and safe tailor-made biotechnologies in real operational environments. It will also show eco-friendly approaches for producing safe and/or health-promoting microbial biomasses, functional ingredients such as prebiotics, pre-fermented food ingredients and biochemical raw materials to supply the food, feed, pharmaceutical and cosmetic sectors. Once they have been demonstrated as safe, the ingredients from the INGREEN project will find their way into foods such as cheeses, bakery products and other nutritious products.

The INGREEN ingredients will be part of so-called ‘functional’ foods, which can provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition. These include improving digestion, strengthening the immune system, helping control body weight and preventing conditions such as high blood pressure. The market for functional foods is estimated to reach €88.2 billion by 2023.

Description

Objectives: 

The overall objective is to demonstrate the value of innovative biotechnologies of the INGREEN project in capturing these under-exploited sidestreams. In addition to this, it will provide a number of societal and environmental objectives. It will:

  • Cause a substantial shift in societal attitudes to bio-based products.
  • Improve access to health-promoting foods across all levels society, improving wellbeing as a whole by providing the ingredients to develop functional foods.
  • Help develop foods with longer shelf-life, reducing the issue of food waste.
  • Contribute to tackling the micronutrient malnutrition that affects one third of the world’s population via improved mineral availability through foods.
  • Develop animal feeds that will be enriched with probiotics, which will benefit the health of livestock and reduce the farming industry’s reliance on prophylactic antibiotic use.
  • Introduce products and production processes capable of valorising three currently-underused types of biowaste, while the bioprocesses for the products being developed will have a lower environmental impact than existing methods.
  • Develop more environmentally-friendly downstream processes for papermill sidestreams, currently one of the most polluting sectors in the world.
  • Contribute to reducing the carbon footprint of production by at least 10 percent over the conventional fossil-based chemical approach.
Expected impacts: 

The overall impact of INGREEN will be in delivering a major economic breakthrough in developing new added-value bio-based ingredients from theses sidestreams. In addition, it will:

  • Provide an economic impact for growth and savings for the bio-based industries as new opportunities open up and the cost of waste disposal falls.
  • Increase value yield from the chosen feedstock by at least 20 percent. It will do this by recovering valuable compounds from agri-food waste as well as paper mill wastewater and by-products that are currently not captured.
  • Produce sustainable biotechnologies, tested in industrial environments, for extracting bio-based bioactive ingredients and compounds from whey and paper mill side streams and by-products. Overall, the output of safe/extracted/purified bio-based and functional compounds will encourage a range of cross-sectoral interconnections in the main bio-based economy clusters.
  • Create a number of new bio-based value chains. Paper mill side streams will be valorised into prebiotic PHA-enriched cells for formulate nutritious feeds; organic matter from whey will be valorised in a number of ways, including for microbial food adjuncts and bio-based cosmetic cleansers and wheat milling by-products will be used in innovative bakery applications and nutraceuticals.
  • Develop at least five new consumer products. Lactobionic acid for use in food, cosmetic, medicine and pharmaceutical industries; galactooligosaccharides as a bio-based food ingredient; yarrowia lipolytica, which has a range of applications from cosmetics to food and feed; polyhydroxyalkanoates as food additive for animal feed and a range of pre-fermented ingredients for use in bakery products.