European waste management giant Renewi has announced it is working with Dutch start-up PeelPioneers to turn waste citrus peel into usable products. 

The companies said the goal was to provide a 100 per cent circular solution for processing the 250 million kg of citrus peels that are thrown away in the Netherlands each year.

Under the partnership Renewi will collect peels from supermarkets and catering companies and transport them to PeelPioneers’ new plant which will be based at Renewi’s Son site in the Netherlands.

The peels plant, which is due to come fully online this autumn, will be able to process between 25,000kg and 50,000kg of citrus peel each day, turning it into essential oils and citrus pulp which will be used as ingredients in products such as detergents and high-quality animal feeds.

The companies said that every 1,000kg of peels processed will provide enough detergent to clean 4,500 square metres of floor or produce healthy supplementary feed for 200 cows, while cutting carbon emissions by 220kg.
They also argued that processing citrus peel separately from other organic waste streams can deliver wider benefits, as peels can contaminate composting or digestion processes.

The new plant has been backed by over €1m of investment from business development organisation Brabantse Ontwikkelingsmaatschappij, financing foundation Stichting DOEN and ABN-AMRO.

The firms said that in the future there are plans to process other components found in citrus peels such as cellulose and pectin into valuable products.