Sustainable materials and products from poultry feather wastes

To perform a wide study of the possibilities of achieving "zero waste" concept in feather wastes of poultry industry, i.E. Use of waste feather in development and production of various types of side products of higher added value.

Feathers are important waste disposal of poultry industry, which is currently converted into low nutritional value pet food and, in some countries in the world still, sanitized and land-filled. It was estimated, that 5 Mt of feathers are produced annually worldwide as a waste stream from the production of chicken meat. In the last 15 years, poultry production increased by about 5 % annually, mainly in developing countries. In EU the Directive 1999/31/EC on landfill of waste, restricts the land filling of disposals, which contain large quantities of biodegradable materials with high burning values. Therefore finding the right and wide application of poultry feathers will be one of the most important achievements in the field of industrial waste management and recycling in the poultry industry in the future. Despite many trials and achievements during last 20 years on the field of poultry feathers reuse and recycling, there is still no effective solution for poultry industry and for consumers/citizens. Among the main reasons for such situation is the fact that all the trials up to now have been focused on the analysis and development of only one particular product. No complex analysis in the sense of zero waste management has been performed yet. Large daily amounts of feather wastes demand more complex study of possibilities for its reuse in several different ways e.g. products. The main objective of this project is, therefore, to perform a wide study of possibilities of achieving “zero waste” concept in feather wastes of poultry industry, i.e. use of waste feather in development and production of various types of side products of higher added value. Three different possibilities will be studied thoroughly: 1) preparation of composite fibreboard insulating panels for green buildings, 2) preparation of functional keratin composite films with antimicrobial properties and 3) development and application of waste-to-energy process using combustion. These three possibilities were chosen owing to different technology and innovation level and completely different application fields: civil engineering (green architecture), new functional biopolymer products and alternative waste management and energy sources. Fibreboard insulating panels have relatively low added value, but high potential for wider use, especially in the light of energy efficiency in green buildings and its importance for combating climate change. Keratin composite films, on the other hand, have very high added value and have very high potential for use in food packaging industry and/or in medical devices, but they are also technologically most demanding. The combustion is an environmentally safe alternative to all other solutions of this type of waste handling. It enables the energy recovery of this material of organic origin and utilization of well needed energy direct at the source of material with no logistics and with no carbon footprint. By combustion of this material the production of steam, hot water or hot thermal oil is possible depending on the needs and present infrastructure at the locations of waste feathers production. Owing to the fact that such a huge annual amount of feather wastes could hardly be successfully converted into only one sort of higher added value products, the technically, environmentally and economically most viable option is to apply a mixture of these three options. In order to fully assess their potential for production and use, the assessment of each of these possibilities with the method of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) followed by a cost-benefit analysis will be performed. The results will show to what extent it is feasible to focus the “zero waste” approach to feather waste on production of composite films compared to other products with less added value, but that are in high demand and could also more easily help solving several environmental problems (zero waste in poultry and wood processing industry, insulation). Prototypes of insulation composite fibre board with optimal thermal and mechanical properties and functional (e.g. antimicrobial) keratin film with optimal mechanical and interfacial properties will be developed. Furthermore, technological process for energy efficient feather waste combustion with positive environmental implact will be developed and introduced.
Project ID: 
5 851
Start date: 
Project Duration: 
Project costs: 
1 010 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Recycling, Recovery
Market Area: 
Other Industrial Products (not elsewhere classified)

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.