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Aimplas’ project will lengthen the shelf life of citrus fruit

The Instituto Tecnológico del Plástico (Aimplas) along with another 13 associates are working on the BiOrangePack project.
Aimplas Biorangepack

This project is aimed at obtaining a bioactive covering for citrus fruits to lengthen their shelf life. This research could reduce the losses caused by post-harvest rotting by up to 30% using non-toxic and ecological treatments, according to sources from the research centre itself.

The bioactive covering takes advantage of the majority of the citrus fruit pulp waste from the juice and essences industry and it reduces the waste from the industrial transformation.

Irene Ríos, the head of the research team emphasises that “the target involves reaching up to a 30% reduction in the losses caused by post-harvest rotting with non-toxic and ecological treatments, lengthening their shelf life from 40 to 50 days for oranges and from 60 to 70 days for lemons and reducing the waste from the industrial transformation of the fruit into juices or essences by up to 80%, taking advantage of the residual citrus pulp from these industries.”

The ecological segment

BiOrangePack seeks to increase the efficiency, sustainability and the competitiveness of the transformation chain for ecological citrus fruits, intervening on the weak points throughout the supply chain, therefore it also attempts to increase the efficiency in the shipping by 20%, thanks to the application of smart technologies and, in short, contributing to the rise in the ecological citrus fruit market in Europe, going from today’s 15% to 25%.”

Post-harvest rotting of citrus fruit is usually prevented by using synthetic fungicides, but they lose efficiency with strains of resistant fungi and are also banned in the ecological production systems.

The project’s environmental impact may be measured in terms of the amount of pulp, the main sub product of the citrus juice and essences industry, which is reused with this type of process. An estimated 0.9 million tonnes of citrus fruit pulp is produced in the Mediterranean region per year.

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