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Flies tipping the scales in the fight against pollution!

26 April 2023

AMBER project BioLaMer seeks to address global issues of Food Waste & Plastics Pollution by utilising the common fly

AMBER the Centre for Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research, CRANN and Trinity College Dublin are delighted to announce the launch of BioLaMer project funded by the European Innovation Council (EIC) through its EIC Pathfinder Open funding.

The European Innovation Council is Europe’s flagship innovation programme to identify, develop and scale up breakthrough technologies and game changing innovations. The EIC has been established under the EU Horizon Europe programme. It has a budget of €10.1 billion to support game changing innovations throughout the lifecycle from early-stage research to proof of concept, technology transfer, and the financing and scale up of start-ups and SMEs in Europe.

The BioLaMer project is aimed at addressing two significant global concerns, i) the management of increasing food waste and ii) petroleum plastics pollution, by developing an innovative practical solution to produce biopolymers and added-value bioplastic products starting from low-grade FW.

Hermetia illucens (Black soldier fly (BSF)) is a common non-hazardous fly that exists consuming the biogenic wastes including food wastes. Despite being grouped in the insect’s family, black soldier flies do not act as carriers of diseases and are also not considered as pests. They are also not considered harmful to humans and do not encroach into the human habitat.

Studies have established that these flies and their larvae can eat and process all types of organic waste, agriculture waste and even medicinal and radiological wastes. Therefore, the BSF flies are now being used to reduce and recycle these wastes in a sustainable way in many places. BioLaMer project aims to marry this concept with a novel concept of producing biopolymers from the BSF larvae. Both these concepts combined will help valorise, and thus manage, the food waste generated in a sustainable and circular way.

The BioLaMer project coordinator Dr Sibu Padmanabhan at AMBER Centre, Trinity College Dublin, said “The project has the potential to produce and commercialise two important biopolymers such as polyhydroxyalkanoates and chitosan, as well as value-added bioplastic products starting from the food waste in a cost-effective and sustainable way. These are two important biopolymers in the run for substituting many of the petrochemical plastic applications. Therefore, the project will contribute significantly towards supporting the efforts of EU and local governments under the initiatives such as the European Green Deal, EU circular economy, Climate Action, Plastic Challenge, Sustainable Development Goals etc.

The BioLaMer project co-investigator Prof. Mick Morris at AMBER Centre said “This is one typical project that underlines the research focus and principles of AMBER Centre. It contributes towards the many green initiatives and circularity drives happening nationally, EU-wide, and globally”.

The BioLaMer project is a joint venture by 3 more research institutes (NOVA ID FCT, Lisbon, Portugal (Prof. Maria Reis & Prof. Rui Oliveira), COFAC, Lusofona University, Lisbon Portugal (Prof. Ana Rita Farias), & ALMA MATER STUDIORUM – UNIVERSITA DI BOLOGNA – UNIBO, Italy (Prof. Serena Righi) and 3 SMEs (TRANSFOLAB BCN, Barcelona, Spain (Miss. Neda Tozija), AquaInSilico LDA, Lisbon, Portugal (Dr. Jorge Santos), & SocLineTech, Ireland (Miss Nisha Thomas) across Europe.

For more information on the project please visit the CORDIS website here

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