Life cycle assessment of agri-food productions

Phenbiox was born on the basis of innovative technologies specifically developed for the improvement of the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of agri-food productions, in order to reduce the environmental impact related to the disposal of by-products.

The LCA study takes into consideration both the environmental aspect and the impact of the product itself during its life from cradle to grave. The life cycle of a product includes the extraction and the processing of the raw material, the production, transportation, distribution, storage use and potential re-use of the product. Finally, the recycling and final disposal process of the by-products that originate from production or consumer use.

In Europe, the production of agri-food by-products is estimated to be at around 250 million tons per year. In Italy most of this waste is made of by-products of the cereal processing industry (11 million tons/year), winemaking (2.3 million tons/year) and olive oil production (1.2 million tons/year).

The problem of managing and disposing of such by-products has a significant impact on the community in terms of costs and environmental pollution, to the point that in recent years companies operating in industrialized countries started to pay more attention to the environmental impact analysis and the production of quality products.

Up-cycling by-products

The enhancement of agricultural by-products through our production technologies can generate a wide range of ingredients with high added value, suitable for different sectors, lowering the environmental impacts.

This approach reduces the need for natural resources by extending the product’s life cycle and at the same time developing new business opportunities.

Several of ingredients derive from agri-food by products, such as olive oil milling waters, grape pomace and tomato skins, green walnuts, brans and lemon, orange, bergamot, lime, tangerine peels etc. and can therefore be considered as materials coming from up-cycling processes.

An adequate upcycling approach, applied to the agri-food production, is fundamental for a sustainable by-product management, giving new commercial value to these “raw materials”. The recovery of high added value chemicals from by-products creates an interesting economic solution to encourage the development of new and more sustainable processes.

The use of water as extraction solvent

Most of our plant extracts and active ingredients are water-based products. The use of water as extraction solvent offers several environmental advantages:
  • The consumption of non-renewable resources is avoided by not using petroleum-derived solvents.
  • Comparing it to solvents of vegetable origin, the use of water avoids the environmental impact linked to the cultivation of vegetables and the transformation of said solvents.
  • Lower environmental impact and lower CO2 emissions, avoiding the transportation of large volumes of solvents from the place of production of the solvent itself to the place of production of the extract.
  • At the end of the water-based extraction process, no special waste with high environmental impact is generated, and the extraction residues can be disposed of as normal compostable waste.
  • Being free of any residual solvent, these products are safe for both the operators who handle our raw materials and the final consumers.

Raw materials from sustainable agriculture and renewable sources

Where possible, we select producers and retailers of local plants to generate a lower environmental impact and lower CO2 emissions linked to the storage and transportation of raw materials.

Besides, where possible, we select Organic and Biodynamic raw materials, whose cultivation has less of an impact than conventional crops.

Over 99.7% of the raw materials we use to make our products comes from renewable sources.

Low environmental impact packaging

Since 2007, Phenbiox has been packaging its products in bag-in-boxes, an alternative packaging to the HDPE jerrycans that are widely used by manufacturers of plant extracts.

The bag-in-box system is environmentally friendly since it uses about one seventh of plastic material from non-renewable sources compared to traditional plastic jerrycans.

Functional & eco-friendly packaging

Since 2007 Phenbiox has been packaging its plant extracts in Bag-in-Box rather than the jerrycan. This functional packaging is widely used in the food sector.

The bag-in-box consists of an inner polyethylene bag containing the liquid product, inserted in an outer recyclable corrugated cardboard box. The polyethylene bag is fitted with a tap which makes it possible to very accurately measure out the required amount of product. As the product is extracted, the volume of the bag decreases without any air getting in. This prevents the creation of a headspace, reducing oxidative phenomena and thus the possible loss of product functionality. This system also prevents any microbial contamination of the remaining product.

It is possible to calculate the quantity of plastic (obtained from non-renewable oil-based materials) used per kg of extract packed in bag-in-boxes or in conventional jerrycans: bag-in-box = 0.06 kg / 10 kg = 6 grams of plastic / kg of extract Jerrycan = 1 kg / 25 kg = 40 grams of plastic / kg of extract.

Using Bag-in-box packaging we can reduce the consumption of plastic material from non-renewable sources by 85% compared to the classic HDPE packaging.