In Italy, vegetable residue from legumes like peas, beans, and lentils are being transformed into bioplastics by LEGUVAL, a European Union-funded consortium of plastics makers and processors.
The non-marketable byproducts of legume production are ground and made soluble with a buffer solution. The fibrous fraction can be used for composite materials, while the proteins are made into bioplastic.
“Purity, especially for the protein component, is important as it helps improve the performance and characteristics of the final material, the bioplastic,” says Simona Bronco, technical manager of the LEGUVAL project and scientist at the Institute for the Chemical and Physical Processes.
A research partner in Slovenia, the Plasttechnics Cluster Slovenia, uses the materials to make biodegradable and compostable flow pots that convey nutrients into soil for plant growth.
LEGUVAL is now looking for partners in ecofarming.