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They transform seeds and skins from tomatoes, watermelons and apples into sustainable packaging and products

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The University of Alicante (UA) participates in the European project ECOFUNCO, which breathes new life into agricultural waste by transforming seeds and skins of tomatoes, watermelons and apples to extract high-value compounds, which are then used in food and drink packaging. personal hygiene.

The initiative grew out of the generation and accumulation of food and plastic waste of petrochemical origin, which pose a problem with major environmental and economic impacts. The extraction of new, more sustainable and recyclable materials and the contribution to the circular economy are two of the main axes of ECOFUNCO.

Substances with antioxidant properties, oils or biopolymers such as cutin from the skin of tomatoes, watermelons, apples and tomato seeds, used by other project partners to obtain innovative materials, were obtained in the UA laboratories and are sustainable, explains the principal researcher from this university in the project, Mª Carmen Garrigós.

In particular, the Research Group for Analysis of Polymers and Nanomaterials (NANOBIOPOL) of the University of Alicante has carried out the extraction of the active substances contained in agricultural and food waste and, through the use of sustainable extraction techniques based on microwaves and ultrasound, has obtained new extracts with high added value (proteins, cutin , polysaccharides, polyphenols, fatty acids…)

These compounds have enabled the development of antimicrobial and antioxidant coatings for personal care products such as tissue paper, as well as plastics for active packaging of fresh produce and disposable paperboard containers (bowls, plates or cups) with improved water barrier properties.

In addition to obtaining products with new benefits and using the biomass generated in the agri-food sector, all products developed with the compounds extracted by the UA researchers are recyclable and biodegradable.


Source europapress.es

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