Scientists develop first agro-waste food trays from oil and dairy liquid effluent

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

Picture credit: Photographer Guilbert Emile. INRA creates biodegradable trays from oil and dairy liquid effluent.
Picture credit: Photographer Guilbert Emile. INRA creates biodegradable trays from oil and dairy liquid effluent.

Related tags European union

Scientists from European agriculture research institute INRA have completed a four-year EU EcoBioCap project to develop the first biodegradable trays from oil and dairy liquid effluent.

The trays are composed of bio-polyester PHA (PHBV) (from liquid effluent from the oil and dairy industry) and lignocellulosic fraction (WSF) from dry fractionation of wheat straw (grinding and sorting).

Biocomposite materials are cheaper and lighter than PHA


Prof. Nathalie Gontard​, project coordinator INRA, told this website that biocomposite materials are cheaper and lighter than pure PHA material and the trays were made during a pilot trial using injection molding.

She said the EcoBioCAP project​ was set up to provide the food industry with customizable, ecoefficient, biodegradable packaging with benefits for the environment and consumers in terms of food quality and safety.

Gontard explained the packaging is developed using composite structures based on constituents (biopolyesters, fibers, proteins, polyphenolic compounds, bioadhesives and high-performance bio-additives) derived from food industry (oil, dairy, cereal and beer) by-products and by applying processing strategies (blends and multilayers at different scales) to customize the packaging’s properties.

The market it is focusing on is fresh perishable food (fruit and vegetables, cheese and ready-to-eat meals).

H2020 NoAW

Prof. Gontard and her team are now starting a new project, H2020 NoAW (No Agricultural Waste), developing a circular economy approach converting agro-waste into bio-energy, bio-fertilizers, bio-packaging and bio-molecules.

Agro-waste refers plant or animal residues that are not processed into food or feed, and create additional environmental and economic issues in the farming and primary processing sectors. 

The first meeting will be held at the SupAgro/INRA campus in Montpellier, France, on October 12, gathering 16 academic and 16 private partners, focusing on geographical case-studies in Languedoc-Roussillon (France), Veneto (Italy), Bavaria (Germany), the Netherlands, Denmark, Serbia, Portugal, Switzerland and China.

The project will develop assessment tools of circular agro-waste management strategies; improve agro-waste resources by upgrading mature technology (ie anaerobic digestion) and by eco-designing bio-processes and products and accelerate the development of new business concepts.


The socio-economic and environmental objectives are to set up a stakeholder knowledge platform by implementing an extensive process of knowledge exchange in the whole agricultural waste production and consumption cycle​,” said Gontard.

Also, to target a zero-waste society by fully turning agro-waste feedstock into a portfolio of energy and chemicals to substitute non-renewable equivalents, with favorable air, water and soil impacts​.”

The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, under grant agreement No. 688338.

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