Every year, 15 million tonnes of meat are produced in Europe, which annually creates 3.6 million tonnes of waste feathers. Only 25% of these feathers are collected and refined. In line with the EU's bioeconomy strategy, the UNLOCK project is working to evaluate this waste stream and design a new economically and sustainable value chain.
By overcoming many of the difficulties involved in collecting and processing feathers from slaughterhouses, the UNLOCK project aims to position this feather waste chain as a source of raw material for keratin that can be used in agriculture. The bio-based products created in the UNLOCK project will be tailored to the different needs of the agricultural sector, with the creation of seed trays, non-woven geotextiles, mulch films and hydroponic foams through four different technical processes, depending on the type of end products desired. The benefits of these materials include biodegradation adapted to the duration of the crop, the ability to add nitrogen back to the soil and generate zero waste at the end of life.
RISE's role in the project is to extract keratin from the feathers and demonstrate it on a pre-commercial scale.
UNLOCK's goal is to design and demonstrate an economically and environmentally sustainable raw material chain for feather-based bioeconomy. By achieving its overall objectives, UNLOCK will value current unused and underutilized by-products from poultry processing, minimizing the impact from the sector and maximizing potential returns. UNLOCK could also potentially create three new cross-sectors between the primary sector and the origin of biomass; between processing and conversion and between different agricultural products.
Overall, the UNLOCK project will demonstrate the feasibility and viability of a new feather-based bioeconomy and maximize the most effective combination of logistics and processing strategies.
5 100 000 €