Production waste from Brussels sprouts becomes a raw material
Brussels sprouts: love them or hate them, their cultivation is inextricably linked with our country. Every year, 63,750 tonnes of Brussels sprouts are produced in Flanders in an area of 2,550 hectares (2019). However, we are less interested in the sprouts than in the stalks on which the sprouts grow. Each hectare supplies us with 18-25 tonnes of Brussels sprouts stalks, totalling 54,800 tonnes in Flanders. After harvesting, Brussels sprouts stalks and leaves are usually left on the field as a soil improver. It is high time to add more value to this waste material.
In this project, we are focusing on a multifunctional agricultural model: alongside the role of food producer, the farm will take on a new role as a supplier of raw materials for other industries.
By refining the Brussels sprouts stalks, we derive two streams: fibre and juice. The fibre can serve as a raw material for paper. We screen the juice for high-quality bioactive substances (polyphenols, tocopherols, sterols, squalene) which, in turn, after extraction and purification, can be used in the oleochemical industry (this is the chemical processing of vegetable and animal oils and fats into basic raw materials). By adding value to the Brussels sprouts stalks, we are adding new links between various top sectors in Flanders.