They use a biorefinery concept with green chemistry and the most modern biotechnology. This means that all the different raw materials in the coffee cherry - from binding fibers and caffeine to pectin - are taken apart. Rudi Dieleman is one of the founders of Pectcof. The name stands for Pectin from coffee pulp. Pectin is a functional food ingredient and is mainly used as a thickener in food production and cooking. “We started at Wageningen University in April 2011, initially as an assignment from our studies in Food Technology and Management, Economics and Life Science. We have now grown into a fully-fledged company. The idea originated from one of the co-founders who is of Colombian descent and saw this side stream of industrial coffee production in his home country. The production of coffee produces many residual flows that are dumped or mixed into compost and the volume is large, because coffee is a popular drink worldwide. Two beans are extracted from the coffee cherry and the rest is pulp. For the study subject we made a business plan around the berry and we won a personal loan from Start Life. We continued to develop our idea. The pulp is dried, ground and packaged locally and then shipped to Europe. We extract the ingredients, specifically the pectin, proteins and polyphenols (antioxidants) and combined we call Dutch Gum, which is divided into two extracts. Extract 1 is an emulsifier and stabilizer, both functional food ingredients, and is used for liquid applications such as soft drinks or milk drinks. Extract 2 is a texturizer and binder and is used for solid applications such as granola bars and candies. Our process also produces residual flows, such as water-binding fibers, antioxidants, red food coloring and fruit sugars. If you were to process all of them, you would have a complete biorefinery. That is our goal in the long term.”
“We are currently busy scaling up our production. Our research laboratory is located in Amsterdam, we have a pilot setup in Venlo and we have outsourced production on a scale of 1,000 – 10,000 liters.
Like many circular start-ups, we face various challenges: how do you scale up your production, how do you best use your raw material and which guidelines do you have to comply with? These are issues that mainly arise when you work with a new residual flow. You are dealing with new raw materials that you want to process on a large scale. With Circular Factory it is nice to share experiences and spar with other participants. You can learn a lot from each other. What kind of growing pains are involved in a start-up and how do you deal with them as best as possible? Other themes that come with a circular factory are smart water and energy consumption, your own residual flows and a more inclusive approach to your production.”
“In 5 years I want to have scaled up our production to 10,000 kilos of end product. We want to demonstrate that you can scale up with this residual flow. We have already done that with the pilot, but now we want to take it one step further. With 10,000 kilos of end product – that means 100,000 kilos of pulp – we can really make an impact. Also for the coffee farmer, who gets an extra source of income by selling the pulp. On a technological level, we want to show that it is possible on such a scale and at a production level that we can sell it and make beautiful end products. We also want to set an example for future circular entrepreneurs.”
The second edition of Circular Factory has started with six new startups that want to be prepared for building a demo factory. All six startups have real potential to provide circular alternatives on industrial scale and this is desperately needed. The coming nine months the Circular Factory programme guides the six startups through the challenging scaling phase from pilot to demo plant.Read more
That is the amount the startups Bakkersgrondstof, Biophilica, BlueBlocks, Fairm, Magie Creations and Nature's Principles need to make a serious scale step. The young companies are participants in the Circular Factory programme, set up by Tekkoo, BlueCity and partners such as Invest NL and Renewi. The program supports startups that want to build a factory for their circular or biobased products. In this way, Circular Factory wants to contribute to the realization of twenty circular factories in the coming years.Read more