LIFE Project Cover Photo

Full use of the whey produced by the dairy industry

Reference: LIFE11 ENV/ES/000639 | Acronym: VALORLACT

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

BACKGROUND

Cheese manufacture in the Basque region of Spain results in the production of some 25 million litres/yr of the waste by-product whey. Whey is the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained. It has a high nutrient content, which can result in environmental problems if it is disposed of inappropriately. However, the high content of serum proteins also gives whey considerable potential to be processed for commercial uses, including in food products, animal feed and biogas. One of the main challenges for achieving this in regions such as the Basque Country is that much of its production is carried out in small and medium-sized dairies scattered throughout the area. The technical knowledge and high costs of investment needed to deal with this waste product mean that most dairies cannot successfully implement the necessary processes alone.


OBJECTIVES

The objective of the VALORLACT project was to formulate an Action Plan and demonstrate an innovative methodology for the recovery of whey, a by-product of the dairy sector, and its transformation into new food products, animal feed and biogas. The aim was to design a collection and processing system for whey that involves a sufficient number of Basque dairies to make one or more processing plants economically viable. The project expected to contribute to improvements in the overall environmental performance of the dairy sector, and to achieve a recycling rate of more than 80% of the generated whey (over 18 000 000 litres of whey per year), using a methodology that can be easily transferred to other European countries.


RESULTS

The VALORLACT project produced a comprehensive Action Plan for the management and valorisation of whey, along with a Road Map for its implementation in the near future. The Action Plan proposes several feasible scenarios for whey management, based on a combination of solutions at farm level and centralised management options. The project team defined methods of storage, treatment, manufacture, transport and logistics, and concluded that the optimisation of collection routes for whey was a key factor in ensuring the successful implementation of the Action Plan.

The Action Plan focused on the use of whey for human food (processed whey) and animal feed (directly or as a formulated fodder). Following preliminary studies at semi-industrial scale, the option of producing biogas through the anaerobic digestion of whey was considered technically and economically unfeasible, due to the highly unstable nature of the process, and it was not included in the final Action Plan. However, valuable information was obtained for the further development of renewable biogas energy in combination with additional co-substrates, such as slurry.

In particular, the project tested a range of solutions that could be adapted to each dairy, with special attention being paid to small dairies that encounter technical and economic difficulties when properly managing whey. Innovative solutions included the use of whey from the milk of Latxa sheep (a breed native to the Basque Country) for the development of new high added-value foods; improved technologies for drying whey with lower energy consumption; and the optimisation of whey collection routes, in combination with milk collection routes, around the spatially-dispersed dairies.

Concerning the processing of whey, the project?s new methodology was tested in a pilot plant aiming to valorise the whey components into a range of new food and feed products:

  • Four food products to be labelled as "source of protein": processed cheese stick, soluble flavoured product in powdered form (cocoa powder substitute), a whey-fruit juice beverage, and cheese-flavoured sauce; and
  • Nine different formulations of fodder, with whey and permeate (protein concentrate), that proved to have high nutritional value.
  • If commercialised these new products would help increase both the sustainability and profitability of the dairy sector.

    Environmental benefits arise from the collection and valorisation of more than 80% of the whey generated in the Basque Country, which reduces the possibility of inappropriate disposal. The project demonstrated how this waste by-product can be recovered using an innovative meThe VALORLACT project produced a comprehensive Action Plan for the management and valorisation of whey, along with a Road Map for its implementation in the near future. The Action Plan proposes several feasible scenarios for whey management, based on a combination of solutions at farm level and centralised management options. The project team defined methods of storage, treatment, manufacture, transport and logistics, and concluded that the optimisation of collection routes for whey was a key factor in ensuring the successful implementation of the Action Plan.

    The Action Plan focused on the use of whey for human food (processed whey) and animal feed (directly or as a formulated fodder). Following preliminary studies at semi-industrial scale, the option of producing biogas through the anaerobic digestion of whey was considered technically and economically unfeasible, due to the highly unstable nature of the process, and it was not included in the final Action Plan. However, valuable information was obtained for the further development of renewable biogas energy in combination with additional co-substrates, such as slurry.

    In particular, the project tested a range of solutions that could be adapted to each dairy, with special attention being paid to small dairies that encounter technical and economic difficulties when properly managing whey. Innovative solutions included the use of whey from the milk of Latxa sheep (a breed native to the Basque Country) for the development of new high added-value foods; improved technologies for drying whey with lower energy consumption; and the optimisation of whey collection routes, in combination with milk collection routes, around the spatially-dispersed dairies.

    Concerning the processing of whey, the project?s new methodology was tested in a pilot plant aiming to valorise the whey components into a range of new food and feed products:

  • Four food products to be labelled as "source of protein": processed cheese stick, soluble flavoured product in powdered form (cocoa powder substitute), a whey-fruit juice beverage, and cheese-flavoured sauce; and
  • Nine different formulations of fodder, with whey and permeate (protein concentrate), that proved to have high nutritional value.
  • If commercialised these new products would help increase both the sustainability and profitability of the dairy sector.

    Environmental benefits arise from the collection and valorisation of more than 80% of the whey generated in the Basque Country, which reduces the possibility of inappropriate disposal. The project demonstrated how this waste by-product can be recovered using an innovative me

    ADMINISTRATIVE DATA


    Reference: LIFE11 ENV/ES/000639
    Acronym: VALORLACT
    Start Date: 01/07/2012
    End Date: 31/12/2015
    Total Budget: 1,727,071 €
    EU Contribution: 773,530 €
    Project Location:
    Project Website:

    CONTACT DETAILS


    Coordinating Beneficiary: Dirección de Calidad e Industrias Alimentarias
    Legal Status: PUBLIC
    Address: C/Donostia-San Sebastián,1, 01010, Vitoria-Gasteiz,
    Contact Person: Santiago MARTÍNEZ MARTINEZ DE LIZARDUY
    Email: s-martinez@euskadi.eus
    Tel: +34-945-016314
    Fax:


    LIFE Project Map

    ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES ADDRESSED

    THEMES

    • Food and Beverages
    • Bio-waste (including food waste)

    KEYWORDS

    • waste management
    • waste recycling
    • food production

    TARGET EU LEGISLATION

    • Directive 2008/98 - Waste and repealing certain Directives (Waste Framework Directive) (19.11.2008)
    • COM(2015)614 - "Closing the loop - An EU action plan for the Circular Economy" (02.12.2015)
    • Directive 2000/60 - Framework for Community action in the field of water policy (23.10.2000)
    • Directive 91/271 - Urban waste water treatment (21.05.1991)

    BENEFICIARIES

    Name Type
    Dirección de Calidad e Industrias Alimentarias Coordinator
    Fundación Azti Tecnalia Participant
    Bioingenieria Medioambiental S.L. Participant
    Institut De Recerca i Tecnologia Agroalimentàries Participant
    Equipamientos Y Proyectos Iberlact, S.L. Participant

    READ MORE

    Type Resource
    Project web site Project's website
    Publication Layman report
    Publication Plan de communicación post-LIFE
    Publication After-LIFE Communication Plan
    Publication Project's Final technical report
    Publication Layman report (Spanish version)
    Publication "Full use of the whey produced by the dairy industry - Valorlact" (1.17 MB)
    Publication "Development of new food products for cheese whey valorization" (52.1 KB)
    Publication Layman report (Euskadi version)
    Publication "Suplementación con lactosuero en polvo y concentrado protéico De lactosuero en dietas de iniciación de broilers: efectos sobre el Redimiento productivo" (70.6 KB)
    Publication "Efecto de la suplementación con lactosuero en polvo, pediococcus acidilacti y su mezcla sobre el rendimiento productivo de gallinas ponedoras" (88.7 KB)
    Video link "Valorlact whey to future" (7'15)
    Video link "Valorlact whey to future" (7'15)
    Video link "Valorlact whey to future [Basque]" (7'16)

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