A group of researchers from the University of the Basque Country/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea has patented a procedure to obtain high value-added compounds from waste from the paper industry, compounds that in the future could replace plastic materials derived from petroleum, as well as be used in the pharmaceutical, agro-chemical, food or cosmetic industries, among others.

Lignin is a by-product from the process of transforming wood into cellulose, which is currently not used commercially by the paper industry due to its low quality. The method patented by the UPV/EHU team precisely manages to obtain phenolic compounds, which can be used in multiple ways by the chemical industry, from said lignin. The compounds, with high added value, are also obtained at a low cost, since it is no longer necessary to extract the lignin through expensive procedures.

According to the director of the research group Jalel Labidi, the patent increases the competitive advantages of the pulp industry by valuing a by-product. He also ensures that the method is already “completely developed to be industrialized”, and is easily adaptable to existing paper facilities in our environment.