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Italy: Crates made from unsold artichoke waste

Unsold artichoke waste made into vegetable crates - the Smart Materials research group at Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, led by Athanassia Athanassiou, in collaboration with Società Gestione Mercato di Genova (SGM) and Ascom Confcommercio, has developed a bioplastic sustainable packaging solution. 

The project is still a prototype, but has already been presented in Berlin during "The new life of fruits and vegetables – bioplastic packaging and circular economy" event. The bioplastic is obtained using unsold artichokes from the Genoa fresh produce market, either through an aqueous process or by preparing thermoplastic and thermoformable compounds.

This prototype was obtained thanks to the support of the Genoa Municipality and the Genoa Chamber of Commerce. Investors have already been contacted with the objective of starting up a business and scaling up the production and commercialisation of patented products.

This project is the perfect example of a circular economy applied to the agricultural and food sector. The eco-friendly crates made using unsold artichokes will be used by the wholesalers part of Fedagromercati Ascom Confcommercio.

The solution could help reduce plastic waste. Just think that, every year, Europe produces 25.8 million tons of it, 31% of which ends up in landfills. In addition, it has been calculated that 95% of the value of packaging (i.e. between €70 and 105 billion a year) is lost due to its extremely short life cycle. The data was released by the European Commission in its "A European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy", which stresses the importance of new strategies for the production of eco-friendly bioplastic. 

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