WaysTUP! interviews NOVAMONT

 Dear Gianluca, what is NOVAMONT’s role in the WaysTUP! project?

From the perspective of promoting circularity and waste reduction, Novamont has worked for years on innovative research projects aimed at making use of by-products and waste, in collaboration with industrial companies and research bodies. The organic waste management and valorisation has always been a focus in Novamont model, which is aimed at preserving natural resources, as well as organic streams, from pollution. In this sense biowaste is both an organic stream which can be valorised into high quality compost by promoting the use of compostable bioplastics bags for its collection and a possible source of input for their production. In particular, within WaysTUP! project, Novamont will tune and optimise its process of lcDCA production through fermentation starting from the selected low impact sources of sugars and used-cooking oils and leveraging an engineered microorganism with low biological risk and improved performances. The process will be tuned to obtain lcDCA with a high level of purity and therefore suitable for the further polymerisation towards biobased polyesters formulation with enhanced properties in terms of melting temperature and mechanical properties. Furthermore, Novamont will validate these innovative building blocks in the production of biobased polyesters, in combination other dicarboxylic acids and diols from renewable resources (e.g. bio-BDO and azelaic acids) and PHA.

 Can LcDCA produced under laboratory conditions be scaled up to cover the needs of the industry and is the processes cost efficient?

According to the bio-process set-up for the valorisation of UCO (used cooking oil) within WaysTUP!, Novamont has scaled-up the production of the biodegradable building blocks, such as the long chain dicarboxylic acids, (lcDCA), for their application into innovative and compostable bioplastics for packaging applications. Novamont, through the applications of its proprietary technologies, has succeeded in obtaining a pure stream of lcDCA from UCO, to be optimally used for the formulation of high value bio-plastics at pilot scale level. The process for obtaining the biodegradable and compostable bioplastics will be scaled-up at demonstrative level by the end of the project. At the same time, Novamont in collaboration with project partners is developing the LCA for the entire bioprocess utilized for the conversion and valorisation of UCO into lcDCA. These results pave the way for the further scale up of the technology, but the achievement of full industrial scale will need to dedicate efforts in consolidating the value chain by setting up dedicated collection systems for UCOs and agreements with UCOs producers to continuously obtain the needed quality and amount of feedstock.

 What are the pros and cons for the commercial applications of bio(waste) plastics?

Biodegradable and compostable plastics can provide a valuable solution for specific environmental problems such as the proper management and valorisation of biowaste. Their use for biowaste collection bags, shopping bags and fruit and vegetable bags (to be re-used for biowaste collection), and food packaging are a concrete example of applications designed to solve specific environmental problems, thanks to the fact that, being fully biodegradable and compostable, they can be disposed of together with their organic content, therefore representing a homogeneous waste and a driver for an efficient collection of this waste stream, allowing to obtain high quality compost. In the WaysTUP! project the focus is on packaging applications, which when compostable also provide the advantage of tackling the issue of non-homogeneous and non-recyclable multilayer non compostable items. The use of secondary raw materials, such as UCO in the case of the WaysTUP! Project, allow also to reduce resources consumption and to valorise waste, in a circular economy perspective.


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