Waste discharge can create valuable by-products
Citric acid is the most widely used organic acid with applications in food, beverage, pharmaceuticals and detergents. Its production by Belgian company Citrique Belge is a good example of the efficient use of by-products that would otherwise be discarded.
Citrique Belge uses molasses, a by-product of the sugar refining process, as a raw material for the production of citric acid crystals. By isolating the citric acid from the fermentation broth the company obtains 265,000 tons of various byproducts annually, which are then sold to other industries as raw materials. Mycelium and Citrocol, for example, are used for animal feed, white gypsum is used in fertiliser and mushroom compost, and syngenite is used in the fertiliser production.
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Circular Economy 2.0
In 2015, the European Commission published its Circular Economy package to promote the transition from a linear economy into a circular economy, where resource efficiency is increased and the value of products and materials is maintained for as long as possible. When a product reaches the end of its life, options such re-use, remanufacturing and recycling can be explored to create additional value. Circular Economy can bring forth economic benefits, by contributing to growth and job creation and stimulating innovation, and in parallel provide environmental benefits.