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AkzoNobel Partners to Develop Sustainable Cellulose Products from Sugar Beet Waste

Image credit: Bayer Seedgrowth

AkzoNobel and agro-industrial cooperative Royal Cosun have partnered to develop novel products from cellulose side streams resulting from sugar beet processing.

The partnership will combine Royal Cosun's specialist knowledge in separating and purifying agricultural process side streams with AkzoNobel's expertise in the chemical modification of cellulose.

"This is an exciting collaboration with a lot of possibilities," said Geert Hofman, General Manager of Performance Additives at AkzoNobel's Ethylene and Sulfur Derivatives business. "It has the potential to deliver a wide range of innovative cellulose-based products resulting from sugar beet processing, addressing the need for more sustainable raw materials from a variety of industries, such as food and healthcare, as well as the coatings and construction sectors."

"Putting agricultural side streams to use as a sustainable source of chemicals is clearly a big step forward," added Peter Nieuwenhuizen, RD&I Director of AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals. "By working together with Royal Cosun, we aim to develop and market sustainable new cellulose-based products, which will serve as essential ingredients for our customers' applications." 

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In 2014, AkzoNobel announced it had teamed up with Deloitte and a handful of other Dutch stakeholders to investigate the potential for producing chemicals from beet-derived sugar feedstock, as part of ongoing industry efforts to replace increasingly scarce non-renewable raw materials. This new partnership with Royal Cosun illustrates that potential.

As well as highlighting Royal Cosun's focus on the bio-based economy, the partnership also underlines AkzoNobel's Planet Possible agenda, which includes ongoing efforts to develop and introduce sustainable, bio-based products that contribute to a circular economy.

Thankfully, more and more companies are getting wise to the wonderful ways of circular models by putting previously wasted materials to good use. Last year, Biome Bioplastics began a major development program to significantly accelerate the global bioplastics market with the production of novel target materials, including a fully bio-based polyester. The project aims to harness industrial biotechnology techniques to produce bio-based chemicals from lignin — an abundant waste product of the pulp and paper industry — at a scale suitable for industrial testing. The availability of these chemicals could revolutionize the bioplastics market. 

And if we’re going to continue to waste food, at least we keep finding fun and exciting uses for it — turning spoiled and damaged tomatoes into energy and their skin into car parts; coffee grounds into 3D-printing filament and biofuel for the London Underground; and biomash from distilleries and breweries into power for those facilities, fish and animal feed, or bread and snack bars.

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