LIFE RESTART is the first example of re-use of beer spent grain (BSG) in the production of high-quality, biodegradable, ryciclable, green bioplastics with competitive costs.
In its three-years span, the project will allow for the production of new bioplastics on a semi-industrial scale and for the production of market-interesting biodegradable manufacts prototypes.
LIFE RESTART promotes a social economy perspective with a community-based approach and a business model which shall permit job inclusion for disadvantaged subjects and the generation of economic resources to be used in sustainable development activities in Roccavaldina, a inner-area Municipality in the province of Messina (Sicily, Italy), which shall host the bioplastics production hub. With such integrated approach, LIFE RESTART also aims at contrasting marginalization and depopulation dynamics afflicting internal rural areas.
LIFE RESTART specific objectives are manyfold. On the environmental side:
- recovery and reuse of 75% of beer spent grain for new biopolymers production;
- reuse 75% of breweries’ waste waters through BSG pre-drying processes;
- reduce by 15% the consumption of fossil-based biopolymers (FbP) that partners are already using in packaging production;
- reduce by 35% the consumption of virgin biopolymers and demand for raw natural resources in the production of the new bioplastics.
On the social side:
- generation of 7 new green and qualified job (2 of them will be for socially and economically disadvantaged subjects);
- design of a sound business plan and of a related, replicable social business model for the sustainable development of territory and local community, thus fostering its resilience against climate change. To this end, a Community Well-being Plan shall be designed.
Within three years from project end the construction in the EU of at least four more production sites for the new bioplastics is expected and the ability to create up to 35 new job places thanks to the replicability of LIFE RESTART in further territories outside Sicily.
Beer spent grain represents 85% of all waste-products from beer production. Each hectolitre of beer produces more than 20 kg of spent grain, every year in Europe more than 6,4 million tonnes of BSG are produced. Management of such an amount of waste represents a critical issue both from an economic and an environmental viewpoint.
Most breweries have developed solutions according to their financial and geographic possibilities and most of them deliver their spent grain almost for free to farmers as animal feed. This kind of trade generates though minimum returns and, on the other hand, BSG as animal feed is getting lesser and lesser popular due to sanitary concerns. This state of affairs makes landfill disposal the main alternative: a precious by-product is then turned into waste with high management costs and environmental impact.
LIFE RESTART aims at turning beer spent grain in an opportunity: from a low/zero value product to means of production for high-quality, green, biodegradable, recyclable bio-polimers with an industrial value.
LIFE RESTART partners:
- Fondazione di Comunità di Messina, now Fondazione Me.S.S.In.A., shall coordinate the project. Fondazione Me.S.S.In.A. leads the Evolved Social District, a social economy cluster in the city of Messina;
- EcosMed Social Cooperative, experienced in projects for local sustainable development and for disadvantaged subjects’ job placement. Ecosmed will manage the pilot-plant in Roccavaldina;
- Messina University, whose Engineering Department has high expertise in materials science and polymers design;
- Crossing, spin-off of the Department of Molecular Sciences and Nanosystems of University of Venice, contributes with expertise in sustainability and green chemistry for agro-waste valorisation;
- Birrificio Messina, a brewery born out of a successful workers buyout with the support of Fondazione Me.S.S.In.A.;
- Bibetech, company specialized in packaging production.
Several stakeholders are supporting the project development and testing the transferability of the technology to other sectors and markets.
LIFE RESTART ACTIVITIES:
- research and development for the recovery and transformation of spent grain and for the construction on a pilot-scale of new high-quality and eco-friendly bioplastics;
- production of new bioplastics on a semi-industrial scale;
- production of market-ready manufacts prototypes (food containers, coffee pods, vases, etc.);
- design and implementation of a business model based on the principles of social economy for the management of pilot-implant in Roccavaldina (ME) and for an equal development of the local community;
- feasibility studies to evaluate the possible use of new bioplastics for further products and for the transferability of LIFE RESTART technology to different agro-food chains.
- Duration: 01/10/2022 – 31/12/2025 (39 months)
- Total budget: 2,95 million euros (financed up to 60% by the European Union)
Co-funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or CINEA. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.