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AgriChemWhey: transforming dairy waste into new added-value products

Description: 

Following the abolition of European milk quotas in 2015, farmers are now able to produce more dairy products. However, the by-products of milk processing - whey permeate (WP) and de-lactosed permeate (DLP) - are difficult to dispose of sustainably, posing a major issue for the dairy industry. 

Taking up this challenge, the AgriChemWhey project brings together 11 partners from 5 EU countries with the aim of building a first-of-a-kind bio-refinery, capable of transforming over 25,000 tonnes of excess WP and DLP per annum into lactic acid.  This lactic acid can in turn be used to make value-added bio-based products for growing global markets, including biodegradable plastics, bio-based fertiliser and other minerals.

This plastic could be used to package dairy products produced by farms, while the bio-based fertiliser could be used for mushroom cultivation. Such an approach is a zero-waste process, closing the loop and promoting the circular economy.

AgriChemWhey hopes to replicate its model across other European regions.

 

Main results: 

The expected outcomes of the AgriChemWhey project are as follows:

  • less food waste and greater resource efficiency, with more products made from the same material
  • possible reduction in EU lactic acid imports (80,000 tonnes per annum) and the potential to turn Europe into a net exporter of lactic acid
  • industrial symbiosis (turning waste into raw materials) for the creation of new products and new value chains
  • CO2 savings, from 18,000 tonnes COeq/year up to 89,000 tonnes COeq/year (based on 1 to 5 AgriChemWhey-like plants)
  • providing inspiration to society and industry as an example of the European circular bioeconomy