Nowadays the tanning industry is directly involved in global environmental challenges and is asked to reduce pollution and chemical risk. Despite the great progress made, leather production is in fact still characterised by a certain environmental impact, due to the use of petrochemicals and the large use of water resources. The Life Biopol project was created to respond to requests for greater sustainability that are increasingly addressed to the tanning sector.
Always sensitive to the environmental issue, in 2016 Codyeco promoted Life Biopol, the research project co-financed by the European Union which is part of the “LIFE 2014-2020” programme, aimed at promoting initiatives concerning climate and environmental protection.
The project aims to obtain complex natural molecules (biopolymers) through a waste valorisation process from the agro-industrial and tanning chain, and useful for leather processing. A virtuous approach where secondary materials become precious resources for the synthesis of innovative biological products, favouring circular economies among the various industrial sectors. To synthesise biopolymers, Codyeco has conducted a scrupulous experimentation activity, both in the laboratory and on an industrial scale, using a special newly-developed prototype plant. The industrial production of biopolymers made it possible to test the performance of the new products in the tannery on bovine, sheep and goat and split leathers.
The new biopolymers – explains the company – have been synthesised starting from different types of waste and by-products, such as biomass deriving from wet-blue leather, rich in proteins, and biomass deriving from agriculture such as soy panels, sugar cane molasses and beetroot. Thanks to the modern technologies used, the new products do not contain dangerous substances and have less environmental impact compared to traditional chemicals. The entire Life Biopol project was evaluated through the Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) in order to minimise and calculate the Carbon Footprint of the new technology.
The Life Biopol project was made in collaboration with five partners: Codyeco, responsible for project management, the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Ilsa, a company specialising in fertilisers and the Spanish tanneries Dercosa and Inpelsa.
Research, courage and innovation, these are the guidelines that Codyeco has adopted to lead Life Biopol in the best possible way. The project confirmed the possibility of using waste and by-products from various industrial chains to obtain new ecological products capable of contributing to the sustainability of the tanning process.
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