AgriChemWhey: transforming dairy waste into new added-value products


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