New applications for beet pulp in dishwasher detergent and leather industry

Published on
December 2, 2019

Pectin from sugar beet pulp is suitable as biobased ingredient for (dishwasher) detergents and the production of leather. This was proven by research by Wageningen Food & Biobased Research in collaboration with Cosun, Dalli de Klok, and Smit & Zoon. Wageningen researchers investigated different applications previously. On the basis of these research results, Dalli de Klok and Smit & Zoon intend to use the beet pulp, and Cosun has plans for a new test factory. By replacing oil-based ingredients by biobased alternatives, they contribute to improving the sustainability of the chemical industry; reduced CO2 emissions in production, and fewer non-degradable and toxic substances.

New function for pectins

The pectin serves as functional replacements for non-degradable polymers in dishwasher detergents. The proportion of biobased ingredients in dishwasher detergents is higher, and the product is easier to degrade. The same pectins are also very suitable for use in the wet production process of the leather industry. For instance, it can influence the colour intensity. Both businesses see this as an important step in their transition towards a more sustainable production process.

Valorising a waste stream

Cosun, supplier and processor of beet pulp, also considers it an interesting development. “This is clearly a win-win situation; we process our beet pulp waste stream at the highest possible level of value, and the chemical industry gains a sustainable solution,” says Harry Raaijmakers, who is responsible for chemical competency at Cosun R&D. Previously, Cosun examined the possibilities for the application of beet pulp in detergents, personal care products, paints and coatings, composite materials, and high-value plastics.

Test factory

“Replacing petrochemical raw materials by biobased alternatives is not only important for the reduction of CO2, but also for persistence: biobased alternatives are biodegradable and less toxic,” says Raaijmakers. “That is why we want to invest in a test factory — that proposal is on the table. We will only do this if there is sufficient support for volume and potential for the product. Decisions like this require a proper substantiation of the business case. In addition this project looks interesting enough to continue.”

Sustainable chemical industry

Jacco van Haveren, programme manager at Wageningen Food & Biobased Research: “This is a great example of the development of new biobased ingredients. They are crucial for increasing the sustainability of the chemical industry, as it provides reduced CO2 emissions and increased biodegradable products in the long term better than replacing all existing chemical ingredients by biobased alternatives individually. Additionally, completely new ingredients contribute to lessen environmental and health risks as there will no longer be exposure to certain chemicals.”