GABRIEL ZAINESCU, LUMINITA ALBU, DANA DESELNICU, RODICA R. CONSTANTINESCU, ANA MARIA VASILESCU, PETRONELA NICHITA, CARMEN SIRBU A NEW CONCEPT OF COMPLEX VALORIZATION OF LEATHER WASTES Currently the leather industry has to face very high costs to treat and eliminate wastes. Therefore, the aim is to treat organic waste (protein and cellulose) by biochemical processes in order to be recycled in industry and agriculture. All treatments applied to waste mainly aim at substantially reducing environmental pollution. Worldwide research on leather recycling is directed towards obtaining protein composites by biochemical treatments using microorganisms/enzymes and obtaining protein hydrolysates and protein binders with different uses. Leather, even in the form of waste, is a valuable protein source for many areas: leather industry, automotive industry, agriculture, animal husbandry, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, etc. Organic biopolymers are a source of raw materials for agriculture, as protein waste composition provides sufficient elements to improve the composition of and remediate degraded soils, and plants can benefit from elements such as nitrogen, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, etc. This paper presents a new pilot-scale technology for biochemical hydrolysis of tannery waste and obtaining protein biocomposites - multicomponent systems of protein and cellulose biopolymers with application in the footwear industry and in agriculture for the remediation of degraded soils.
Keywords: biotechnology, protein wastes, cellulose, biopolymer, tannery