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Feasibility study on uses for agricultural food residues


GAIKER Technological Centre is leading a European project on evaluating the uses for agricultural food residues. The project analyses the generation of residues in the meat, fish, milk products, wine production and processed vegetable sectors and the uses to which these are put in other sectors.

In Europe 220 million tons of agrifood residues and by-products are generated each year from industrial processes). This study, led by Gaiker, points to the great possibilities of putting these residues to good use for obtaining biofuels, fertilisers and organic additives or high-value chemical and food products, amongst other things.

Spain, moreover, is one of the four European countries which generate most organic residues, (8% of European total), thus making it an ideal place to carry out such a study.

On terminating the project, the GAIKER Technological Centre directed the drawing up and publication of a manual for European agrifood companies. 33 other members from 15 European companies have taken part in the project, the total investment being 1.475 million euro.

Residue or raw material

From industrial manufacturing processes to the end-product stage what are for residues some and, for others, raw materials necessary to create new products, are generated. Reuse and evaluation are areas that Gaiker has taken up in this research in order to find a solution to the thousands of tons of organic residues generated every year by the European agrifood industry.

It should be taken into account that this European agrifood sector is one that moves nearly 480 billion euro annually. The aim of the Awarenet project is to minimise the generation of residues and the means to this end lies in helping European industry to adapt to current or future legislation and encourage new lines of production in the agrifood sector.

Spain, moreover, is one of the four European countries which generates most agrifood products. If we take the raw material as an indicator for the generation of residues, production of sugar and cheese generate 45% and 26% respectively although, currently there exists strategies for evaluation, particularly for the first, which have been widely taken up by numerous companies.

Finally, it should be taken into account that the assessment of by-products has different values depending on the solution found for the by-products. That is, the evaluation of putting the by-products to good use is more or less a function of how they are end-used in the chemicals sector, animal feed, energy/fuel production, compost and, finally, dumps.

Jose Maria Goenaga | Basque research
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