Plastic production has been in continuous growth for more than 50 years. Global production in 2014 rose to 311 million tonnes, a 3.9% increase when compared to 2012. Europe accounted for 20% of total production ? second only to China (26%). The total EU consumption of plastics is close to 50 million tonnes, with packaging being the major use (39.5%). Spain is in the top five European countries for plastic material demand (Plastics Europe Market Research Group, 2015).
Spain produces some 6 million tonnes per year of citrus fruits. This generates a large amount of organic waste. Currently, part of this waste is used as livestock feed, but its rapid fermentation turns it into an environmental problem. Furthermore, due to its high moisture content, the transportation of this citrus-fruit waste is very costly, creating a logistical problem.
The LIFE CITRUSPACK project aims to demonstrate a process that will enable treated wastes from the citrus industry to be used in packaging and cosmetic products. Its long-term goal is to show that it is possible to entirely eliminate the use of non-biodegradable plastics in packaging.
The specific objectives of LIFE CITRUSPACK are to: Optimise waste management in the citrus juice industry through an innovative process to extract natural fibres and pulp; Demonstrate how extracted natural fibres from peels can be used as a cheap and natural additive for the reinforcement of 100% bio-based and biodegradable plastic bottles and jars for juices; Manufacture the juice bottles for line adjustments, tests and certification including cold pasteurisation and high pressure process (HPP); Complete the cycle by using other substances from the pulp residues as natural antioxidants, pectins or essential oils in cosmetic creams, replacing other compounds; Create a new commercial brand and carry out full validation and pre-norm testing approval; Assess market acceptance of the new products through in-store consumer tests; and Diversify and grow the income of citrus farmers and processors by creating new value chains from citrus waste.
LIFE CITRUSPACK can support implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan and the Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe by finding a bio-based solution to plastic packaging. This project is also in line with the Waste Framework Directive and the Directive on landfill since it avoids sending plastics to landfill.
Expected results: Demonstration that 80% of AMC?s citrus-fruit waste (oranges, lemons and clementines) can be can be used as fibres for packaging and natural additives for cosmetic products; Production of 2 000 juice bottles using the recovered citrus fibres that are capable of enabling HPP-treated juice to last up to 45 days; Production of 2 000 cosmetic jars using the recovered citrus fibres; Demonstration of the commercial competitiveness of using 100% biodegradable plastics in juice and cosmetics packaging; Production of 30 kg of cosmetic products using recovered pulp residues; Awareness raising of local consumers on biodegradable alternatives from citrus waste and their environmental and socio-economic benefits, as well as feedback from at least 1 000 in-store consumers; Training of at least 300 technicians, students, graduates and environmental professionals in waste management processing at six technical seminars and three educational visits; Analysis of replicability and transferability procedures for at least two other final products and two European regions; and Indirectly contributing to the Commission?s target of banning recyclable material in landfills by 2025.