Bioeconomy. ILSA is carrying out scientific research to produce biodegradable masks


New applications have been found for ILSA protein hydrolysates, which from agriculture (passing through nutraceuticals) become the basis for biopolymers to produce bio-polyester of bacterial origin and biocompatible plastics with which individual protective devices can be created. 

(Arzignano, Vicenza, Italy). 89 million masks per month are used only by medical personnel as indicated by the World Health Organization. These are impressive numbers that are not yet surprising, considering how abandoned masks are becoming a constant in the degradation of the landscape. The solution is to find a biodegradable material to produce them. This is the goal of a project involving the Ilsa of Arzignano, a company which specialises in biotechnologies applied to agriculture and is experimenting with the use of the protein hydrolyzates to obtain biopolymers that can be used to make biocompatible plastics.

The project called EcoDPI started in September 2020 with the financial contribution of the Veneto Region (under the POR FESR 2014-2020 action 1.1.4), which allocated more than two million euros out of a total expenditure of about three million. In addition to Ilsa, Veneto companies, universities and research centres coordinated by the Veneto Green Cluster Regional Innovative Network are also a part of this. These include the Department of Biotechnology of the University of Verona, whose contact persons for the project, Prof. Nicola Frison and Prof. David Bolzonella, underline the exceptional nature of Ilsa biopolymers: "They are three times organic. First, because the raw materials with which they are made are organic, then the synthesis process is carried out by microorganisms and, finally, because the result is a biocompatible plastic that does not pollute". Stefania Lupinelli from the Research Department of Ilsa remarks: "It was exciting to investigate the natural processes through which our hydrolysates, treated with particular protocols and bacteria, produce molecules that we are now evaluating as a basis for bio-plastics and, although we are still in the research phase, we realize the great potential that these new materials may have when they are adopted on an industrial level". "This is a study - continues Lupinelli - in perfect coherence with European policies that push on the circular economy and in particular on eco-design, to significantly extend the range of eco-sustainable products available to European consumers". 

EcoDPI is the acronym for "ECOdesign and recycling of PPE (Editor's note: PPE is DPI in Italian) in a circular industrial supply chain" and will at the end of 2022 mark a prototyping phase. Already, there are compostable plastics on the market, mostly of Chinese production, with characteristics different from the biopolymers being studied which, on an experimental level, are suggesting better performance in their usage. This would allow for a national production of these materials which will be strategic for the economy in the near future.

Moreover, llsa has been involved in the recovery and enhancement of renewable raw materials and secondary raw materials of animal or vegetable origin for over 65 years using green technologies with low environmental impact in the context of a sustainable circular economy and zero waste. 

ILSA S.p.A - In breve
The green Evolution. Da oltre 65 anni per una agricoltura sostenibile

Una agricoltura sostenibile e produttiva è il risultato di pratiche agronomiche accurate e di efficienti prodotti di nutrizione per le colture. Dal 1956 Ilsa produce fertilizzanti e prodotti speciali derivanti da risorse rinnovabili, anche valorizzando i residui di altre filiere produttive, ed è oggi una impresa di biotecnologie di riferimento a livello mondiale nel segmento della nutrizione vegetale in regime biologico, pur servendo in larga misura anche l’agricoltura tradizionale. La produzione avviene principalmente nello stabilimento di Arzignano, in provincia di Vicenza, a Molfetta, in provincia di Bari e nei due siti produttivi in Brasile, nello Stato del Rio Grande do Sul. I suoi processi produttivi sono a basso consumo energetico. Nel 2020 ha preso avvio il nuovo stabilimento a nord del Cairo per servire il mercato africano. Ilsa è stata la prima PMI italiana ad aver ottenuto la certificazione ISO50001 per l’uso intelligente ed efficiente dell’energia e con lo studio della sua carbon footprint (analisi OEF PEF), ha dimostrato le sue prestazioni ambientali sia come organizzazione che relativamente ai suoi prodotti.

ILSA S.p.A. www.ilsagroup.com Via Quinta Strada, 28 - 36071 - Arzignano (VI)
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