Carried out in collaboration with Wageningen Food & Biobased Research, Smit & Zoon said the research has shown that replacing petrochemical raw materials with biobased alternatives can reduce CO2 reduction. The pectins from sugar beet pulp serve as functional substitutes for non-degradable polymers in the wet production process at the end of leather production. For instance, they can influence the colour intensity, according to the chemical supplier. Furthermore, the ingredients are claimed to contribute to the reduction of environmental and health risks since there is no exposure to certain chemicals. “Replacing petrochemical raw materials with biobased alternatives is not only important for CO2 reduction; biobased alternatives are biodegradable and less toxic”, said Harry Raaijmakers, a chemical expert from supplier and processor of beet pulp, Cosun R&D.

The research project that led to the beet pulp findings is part of Topconsortia voor Kennis en Innovatie – Agri & food (TKI-AF), a Dutch government co-financed project with a consortium consisting of four public-private partners including Smit & Zoon, Cosun, Dalli-De Klok and Wageningen University & Research.