From Sugar beet 'Waste' to Environmentally Enhanced Detergents

The cultivation and processing of sugar beets is important to the economy of the Netherlands. Sugar beet processing (by the Royal Cosun cooperative) generates a residual flow of approximately 1 million tons of sugar beet pulp per year. This beet pulp is currently used primarily for low-value applications, such as animal feed or biogas production.

The aim of this project is to create higher value uses for this beet pulp by converting it into home cleaning and personal care products (in cooperation with Unilever), and professional cleaning products (in cooperation with Diversey). An important objective for these companies is to replace the currently-used petroleum-based products with a fully renewable raw material based on beet pulp. The development of new, sustainable and biodegradable products contributes to the reduction of CO2 emissions, thus helping to alleviate climate change and reduce environmental impact.   

Aim of this project

Cosun and Wageningen Food & Biobased Research have previously collaborated on biorefinery concepts to separate the beet pulp into various components, such as microcellulose fibres and pectin. For Cosun, the aim of this project is to develop new uses for these components derived from beet pulp. In this project, these components will be used as raw materials to develop new cleaning products for domestic use, personal care products and professional cleaning products.

Together with the partners, we will pay attention not only to the properties of the end products, but also to the technical, economic and environmental aspects of the production chain. This will strengthen the Agri&Food sector in three important ways. First, a residual flow from the food industry (sugar production) can be used to produce high-value products for consumers and other industries.

Second, it will benefit the economics of sugar beet production, and third, it will help to reduce consumption of petroleum.