Coffee By-Products and Their Suitability for Developing Active Food Packaging Materials
The coffee industry generates a wide variety of by-products derived from green coffee processing (pulp, mucilage, parchment, and husk) and roasting (silverskin and spent coffee grounds). All these fractions are simply discarded, despite their high potential value. Given their polysaccharide-rich composition, along with a significant number of other active biomolecules, coffee by-products are being considered for use in the production of plastics, in line with the notion of the circular economy. This review highlights the chemical composition of coffee by-products and their fractionation, evaluating their potential for use either as polymeric matrices or additives for developing plastic materials. Coffee by-product-derived molecules can confer antioxidant and antimicrobial activities upon plastic materials, as well as surface hydrophobicity, gas impermeability, and increased mechanical resistance, suitable for the development of active food packaging. Overall, this review aims to identify sustainable and eco-friendly strategies for valorizing coffee by-products while offering suitable raw materials for biodegradable plastic formulations, emphasizing their application in the food packaging sector.