Unproper disposal of non-biodegradable plastics and their accumulation on environment triggers the known white pollution. In turn, agrifood waste is a global concern since high foodstuffs amount ends as non-valued waste. To overcome these issues, ecology concepts as green manufacturing/circular economy are being pursued. Therefore, plastics with improved biodegradability, physicochemical, and mechanical profile are required.
From agrifood industries, biobased byproducts still containing valuable biomolecules of interest for the (bio)plastics manufacturing can be generated. From our most recent research, non-value potato washing slurries, potato peels, coffee silverskin, and eggshells revealed to be agrifood byproducts from which polysaccharides, proteins, lipids, phenolic compounds, and minerals can be recovered and further used in the development of starch-based bioplastics with improved physicochemical/mechanical performance and lightweight fillers for plastic materials. Most these formulations have shown compatibility with various plastic manufacturing technologies, namely solvent casting, extrusion, injection molding, and 3D printing by fused deposition modelling (FDM), and are capable of being transposed from lab to pilot scale. Complementary studies about the agrifood byproducts-derived (bio)plastics versatility are ongoing, targeting to exploit materials with a wide application range.
From an ecological and economic point of view, this circular economy strategy can bring sustainability and new business opportunities for both agrifood and plastic industries, and concomitantly contribute to fulfil the European Green Deal objectives.
Acknowledgments: Thanks are due to the University of Aveiro and FCT/MCTES for the financial support of CICECO (FCT Ref. UIDB/50011/2020 & UIDP/50011/2020). IG also acknowledge FCT for the Individual Call to Scientific Employment Stimulus (ref. CEECIND/00430/2017) and to the companies A Saloinha, FEB – Cafés S.A., and Derovo for providing the agrifood byproducts.