Technological watch

Valorization of Liquor Waste Derived Spent Coffee Grains for the Development of Injection-Molded Polylactide Pieces of Interest as Disposable Food Packaging and Serving Materials

The present work puts the Circular Bioeconomy’s concept into action, originally valorizing residues of spent coffee grains from the beverage liquor coffee industry to develop green composite pieces of polylactide (PLA). The as-received spent coffee grains were first milled to obtain the so-called spent coffee grounds (SCGs) that were, thereafter, incorporated at 20 wt.% into PLA by extrusion. Finally, the resultant green composite pellets were shaped into pieces by injection molding. Moreover, two oligomers of lactic acid (OLAs), namely OLA2 and OLA2mal, the latter being functionalized with maleic anhydride (MAH), were added with SCGs during the extrusion process at 10 wt.%. The results show that, opposite to most claims published in the literature of green composites of PLA, the incorporation of the liquor waste derived SCGs increased the ductility of the pieces by approximately 280% mainly due to their high lipid content. Moreover, the simultaneous addition of OLA2 and OLA2mal further contributed to improve the tensile strength of the green composite pieces by nearly 36% and 60%, respectively. The higher performance of OLA2mal was ascribed to the chemical interaction achieved between the biopolyester and the lignocellulosic fillers by the MAH groups. The resultant green composite pieces are very promising as disposable food-serving utensils and tableware.

Publication date: 16/04/2022

Author: Enrique Terroba-Delicado

Reference: doi: 10.3390/foods11081162

MDPI (foods)


This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837761.