20 | 06 | 2022

UNLOCK, bio-based products from agri-food waste

Surface Engineering

Last May, CIDETEC Surface Engineering hosted the first face-to-face meeting of the UNLOCK project, which aims to produce biodegradable plastics from poultry waste feathers for use in agriculture.

Having completed the first of the four years of the project, coordinated by CIDETEC Surface Engineering with the involvement of 15 partners of 7 different nationalities, the meeting was used to share the progress made and design an innovative value chain that will help develop a sustainable economy in the agri-food sector.  

All biomaterials generated in the project will be adapted to needs in the sector, achieving four target products for use in agriculture: planting trays and seedbeds, non-woven geotextiles, mulch films, and hydroponic foam. Feather keratin is also expected to bring further benefits at the end of the product’s shelf life, as it is envisaged that keratin-based materials will produce zero waste and favour biodegradability.

So far, the project has focused on in-depth analysis of the poultry sector with a view to establishing the availability of feather meal in Europe, mapping out the regions that generate most waste and recording their current management practices. A range of feather treatments have also been implemented to ensure suitability for use in biodegradable plastics, and the first lab prototypes are being built to test biodegradability. Indeed, initial results have shown the biodegradation-enhancing effect associated with treated feathers.

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