‘Waste=food’ is a key principle of circular economy approaches, ensuring that all unused materials become a feedstock for something else, rather than being discarded. In practice, this means closing the loop on those materials, so they are reused for another industrial process, or they become food for nature (compost). This applies to ‘technical’ resources, such as metals, minerals and fossil-based materials, as well as biological resources including food, fibres and timber. In practice though, our drive for efficiency and scale means we ignore this potential for value-creation. Instead, we end up wasting excess materials, rejected production batches, or unwanted materials created during manufacture. The winemaking, or ‘vinification’ process, is just one example.
Untapped value from vinification
Each stage of the wine-making process produces leftovers. Firstly, pressing the liquid from the grapes results in unwanted grape skins and seeds (known as pomace or marc). Later in the process, sediment at the bottom of wine fermenting tanks (‘lees’) also tends to become waste. Currently, commercial scale uses for wine pomace often focus on producing alcohol for industrial use, meaning valuable micronutrients and other useful elements are lost.
Separately, the food and beverage sectors often source colours and nutrition ingredients from synthetic ingredients, from animals, or even from agricultural crops that are grown specifically. These options have significant footprints, including materials, carbon, water, waste, and pollution.
Getting more from less: the potential of pomace
Alvinesa Natural Ingredients is a circular economy business, using grape-based materials left over from winemaking to create an extensive range of natural and organic products for food and wellbeing needs.
Sourcing the highest quality, no- and low- pesticide grape pomace mainly from Spain’s abundant Castilla-La Mancha wine region, Alvinesa transforms it into valuable by-products for the food, beverage, nutrition, cosmetics, animal nutrition and wine-making industries. Its product portfolio includes a wide selection of polyphenols (micronutrients with antioxidant activity), flavours, colours (anthocyanins), polysaccharides, natural tartaric acid, grapeseed oil and alcohols.
Alvinesa’s ultramodern manufacturing facility in Spain also uses circular economy approaches to close the loop on its energy and water needs. It generates a high percentage of its energy requirements renewably onsite: 100% of steam energy (by producing its own biomass), and up to 30% of electricity (via solar power). Its extraction process uses only water, rather than chemical solvents, reducing pollution and helping preserve natural qualities in its products.
Capturing value and reducing the footprint of ingredients
Waste from the wine-making process is significantly reduced, and Alvinesa’s processes and expertise transform unused grape-based materials into a wide range of value-adding and nutritious products. This helps replace synthetic and animal-based ingredients and reduces the need to grow crops – such as the black carrot – specifically for colouring and other enhancers.
Applying thirty years of skills and knowledge and focusing on the highest quality standards enables Alvinesa to transform 100% of the raw materials it sources into a range of value-adding products for global markets, exporting to more than 15 countries. Alvinesa controls a sustainable and traceable supply chain supplying valuable natural ingredients, avoiding waste and supporting healthy living, helping reduce the footprint of food, too. If you wish to learn more, visit their website https://www.alvinesa.com/en/.
by Catherine Weetman