Envagro

The different actors in this society are coming closer and closer to the premise: the best waste is the one that does not exist

Such actors are, on the one hand the civilian sector, owing to the environmental connotation which arises from mismanagement. On the other hand, the economic-productive sector, due to the loss of money that not using waste which required financial resources (manpower, nutrients, etc) to be produced entails. It is a well-known fact that the availability of natural resources is not unlimited and that human actions ought to be focused inexorably on making good use of them thus achieving their integral exploitation.

 

The concept of bioeconomy, which has recently become increasingly popular, is about incorporating a series of activities which are aimed at the creation of value from natural raw materials through a rational and sustainable use of the products, subproducts and waste that might be produced. In this context, the agro-food activity, which is vital and indispensable for the human species must pioneer the valorization of waste and, consequently, the creation of added value. Effectively, this agro-food action creates an enormous quantity of plant biomass which is underused, which is a hindrance both environmentally, given the failure to exploit a natural resource, and economically, since the non-valorization of this waste means an opportunity cost.

Andalusia is a region with an outstanding agro-food activity, where several examples of plant biomass ready to be used may be found. Specifically, in Almeria, which is in the east of the region, enormous quantities of fruits and vegetables are produced yearly by using a greenhouse system, both for the domestic and international markets. With this type of exploitation, all the plants are uprooted, with a view to cultivating the land again in the new season. The way this waste is currently managed, mainly by composting or burning it so as to obtain energy is clearly insufficient to make use of the generated waste.

 

Given the main components of waste, cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin, it is possible to obtain high value-added products. 2nd or 3rd generation biofuels can be produced from the cellulose fraction in addition to cellulose fibers for the production of paper and/or cardboard and cellulose nanofibers (CNF). Multiple products may be extracted from the lignin and they are usable in the pharmaceutical, paint or automotive industries, among others.

This Project is intended to design a flexible process for the use of horticultural waste to produce cellulose fibers that can be used in the production of containers to be used in the agro-food industry itself. Given that the fruits and vegetables obtained from the agricultural activity have to be transported, the waste generated from that activity will be used in order to make cardboard and/or packages of moulded pulp which will be used to transport the products. With this project we will:

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Make use of waste which is currently costing the farmer money (in its growing stage) in addition to having to pay a waste management company for its removal

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Reduce the costs associated to the agricultural activity

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Suggest more viable alternatives for the management of the waste to the ones that exist nowadays (storage, compost, obtaining of energy)