HomeKnowledgeChemicals & substancesBeet pulp as an alternative to chemical ingredients

Beet pulp as an alternative to chemical ingredients

Pectins from sugar beet pulp are suitable in the production of leather

Thanks to research by Wageningen Food & Biobased Research in close collaboration with Royal Smit & Zoon, the production of leather can become more sustainable. The research has shown that pectins from sugar beet pulp are suitable as bio-based ingredients in the production of leather.

The outcome was part of broader research around replacing petroleum-based ingredients with bio-based alternatives, helping to make the chemical industry more sustainable, reducing CO2 emissions from production and reducing non-degradable and toxic substances.

How does it work?

The pectins serve as functional substitutes for non-degradable polymers in the wet production process at the end of leather production. For example, they can influence the colour intensity. Smit & Zoon sees this as an important extra step in our transition to a more sustainable production process.

Collaboration between Royal Cosun, Wageningen Food & Biobased Research and Royal Smit & Zoon

Royal Cosun, a supplier and processor of beet pulp, also finds it an interesting development. “This is clearly a win-win situation; we process our residual stream of beet pulp to the highest possible quality and the chemical industry has a sustainable solution,” says Harry Raaijmakers, who is responsible for chemical expertise within Cosun R&D.

Replacing petrochemical raw materials with biobased alternatives is not only important for CO2 reduction, but also for persistence: biobased alternatives are biodegradable and less toxic.

Jacco van Haveren, programme manager at Wageningen Food & Biobased Research: “This is a good example of the development of new bio-based ingredients. These are crucial to making the chemical industry more sustainable because they will result in less CO2 emissions and more biodegradable products in the long term than replacing one-to-one existing chemical ingredients with a bio-based alternative. Moreover, the completely new ingredients contribute to the reduction of environmental and health risks, because there is no longer any exposure to certain chemicals.”

Biopolymers based on sugar beet pectins 

At the end of 2021, Royal Smit & Zoon launched its new 100% biobased product BioMax BP 088L. This is the result of the cooperation with Wageningen Food & Biobased Research and Royal Cosun. The BioMax BP 088L serves as a substitute for fossil fuel-based and non-biodegradable polymers in chemicals for the wet-end production process. BioMax BP also positively influences the characteristics of finished leather, especially its color intensity.  

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