INGREEN – driving force for the bioeconomy

This EU-funded project focuses on the use of new bio-based products to create innovative connections between different sectors, such as the food, feed, pharma, cosmetic, nutraceutical, and packaging industries, and thus setting new regulatory basis for the results obtained for the circular economy.
 
In June 2019, the INGREEN project was launched by an international consortium of seventeen partners, including key stakeholders and leading research groups. This new European BBI JU project aims to make an important contribution to the challenges posed at the scientific, economic and social level by the circular economy. It focusses on the conversion of side streams and by-products from the agro-food industry and paper mills into new bio-based ingredients to be used by industrial sectors, increasing sustainability while contributing to a healthier society

The challenges of the bioeconomy
The bioeconomy is an economic and cultural model that aims to convert the biological and renewable resources produced by societies and industries into new raw materials. This is achieved by employing innovative and efficient industrial biotechnologies. The challenge that INGREEN will focus on is to generate new bio-based value chains between very distant sectors: from the food, feed and cosmetics sectors to the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and packaging sectors. Another objective is to increase society’s knowledge and awareness of the benefits and opportunities of the circular economy.

According to the scientific coordinator, Professor Rosalba Lanciotti from the Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences of the Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna, “INGREEN will generate five new value chains and multiple interconnections between different industrial sectors. It will also produce innovative and functional bio-based products that adhere to the most stringent European safety and quality regulations. The definition of new standards and requirements for the new categories of ingredients and products will also be a result of INGREEN, which will be fundamental for the creation of a new regulatory basis for bio-based products.”

New ingredients and new products
INGREEN aims, more specifically, to valorise whey, wheat and rye bran, and paper milling wastewater by transforming them into bio-based ingredients, through sustainable and industrially validated biotechnological processes. These ingredients can thus be reused in an industrial environment for the production of new high-quality food, feed, nutraceutical, cosmetic or pharmaceutical prototypes. These may be more sustainable and more effective than the reference products on the market today.

The project also aims to produce a completely biodegradable film based on polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA)  from paper milling wastewaters that have a very high environmental impact. This biodegradable film is to be used in innovative and environmentally friendly containers suitable for packaging food, nutraceutical or pharmaceutical products.

Next to contributing to less use of oil and gas for energy or feedstocks, the bio-based ingredients have properties that will benefit the overall health of society, with innovations directly impacting consumers.

The Project consortium
INGREEN has been financed under the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) with over 6.3 million euros in funding over three and a half years. This is part of the Horizon 2020 program and is a partnership between the European Union and the Bio-based Industries Consortium.

Project coordinator, Narinder Bains (INEUVO Ltd, United Kingdom) and scientific coordinator Rosalba Lanciotti oversee the work of the seventeen partners from different countries, including Italy, United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Switzerland, France. The partners represent different sectors, with four public research institutes (Unibo, FHNW, Novaid and ITT), four large companies (Smurfit Kappa Italia, Smurfit Kappa France, Barilla and Molino Pivetti) and eight small-medium enterprises ( Mambelli, Ineuvo, Innoven, Avecom, Activatec, Depofarma, Isitec, Tecnopackaging) and the European Federation of Food Science and Technology (EFFoST).

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