Non-food applications of pectin from sugar beet pulp

Currently, sugar beet pulp waste stream is mainly used for animal feed. Research by Wageningen Food & Biobased Research, Cosun, Dalli de Klok, and Rodenburg Biopolymers has shown that the pulp contains several valuable raw materials that can be valorised, e.g. as a biobased ingredient for dishwasher detergent or as a bioplastic (biobased polymer).

In the laboratory, the partners developed a way of extracting pectin-rich components using precompetitive biorefinery and conversion technologies. "We already knew about pectin from sugar beets," says Ben van den Broek, project leader on behalf of Wageningen Food & Biobased Research. "But not a lot was known about non-food applications. It has a slightly different composition than the pectin from citrus fruits or apples which is often used in the feed and food industry to jellify or thicken. Pectin from sugar beets does not jellify as well, but it has other characteristics that make it a unique raw material that is very suitable for use in dishwasher detergents and bioplastics."

Higher biobased proportion

The pectins serve as functional replacements for non-degradable polymers in dishwasher detergents. This makes these products more environmentally friendly. The proportion of biobased ingredients in dishwasher detergents is higher, and it is easier for the product to degrade. The same is true for the bioplastics. By using beet pectin, the proportion of biobased content will be increased, which means the industry can take steps towards more environmentally friendly production and the realisation of the Paris CO2 targets.

The project was extended and scaled up for commercial use: Non-food applications of carbohydrates from sugar beet refinement.