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VTT Develops Biobased PEF from Pectin-Containing Agricultural Waste

The carbon footprint of plastic bottles can be lowered by 50% says VTT technical research center when replacing their raw PET material with PEF made from  citrus peel and sugar beet pulp.
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New technology developed by Finland’s VTT technical research center enables the use of pectin-containing agricultural waste, such as citrus peel and sugar beet pulp, as a raw material for biobased PEF (polyethylene furanoate) for replacing fossil-based PET.

According to VTT, replacing fossil-based PET with plant-based PEF polymers can lower the carbon footprint of plastic bottles and food packaging by 50%. “In the near future, you may buy orange juice in bottles that are made of orange peel. VTT’s novel technology provides a circular approach to using food waste streams for high-performance food packaging material, and at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” explained VTT professor of practice Holger Pöhler.

Finland's VTT Research Center develops PEF from pectin-containing agricultural waste

Moreover, the barrier properties of PEF plastic have been shown to surpass those of PET, translating to a longer shelf life for food products. The VTT technology boasts significant advantages for making biobased PEF.  It uses a stable intermediate for the production of FDCA (2,5-furandicarboxylic acid), one of the monomers of PEF, which reportedly enables a highly efficient process. In addition, utilizing pectin-containing waste streams opens up new possibilities for the circular economy of plastics.

VTT’s unique scale-up infrastructure from laboratory to pilot scale ensures that its newly patented technology will be brought to a technology readiness level that will allow polymer manufacturers’ easy transition to full scale.

VTT's new biobased PEF technology.


 

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