Around 50,000 tons of hops are produced in Europe, on an area of about 26,500 hectares. In this sense, the BiotHOP project's main objective is to promote the circular economy and increase the optimization of agricultural resources, allowing the recycling of hop waste, transforming it into new products.
The use of bio-based composite materials will increase energy efficiency by 25% and contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions compared to materials from fossil resources.
During hop harvesting, all excess plant biomass is left behind. However, the leaves and remains of the vines are extremely valuable components as a source of organic matter and nutrients that can be reused for agricultural applications (fertilizer or compost). The main problem comes from the existence of polypropylene (PP) stakes, used as a support for the rooting of plants during their growth. These stakes intermingle with the hop biomass, making it unusable, since this material is not biodegradable.
BiotHOP has focused its research on replacing the tutors' matrix with a biodegradable material (PLA). In this way, and after testing the project in a region of Slovenia, one of the main producers of hops in Europe, after the harvest, the residues of the hop plant could be used as a basis for creating compost or natural fertilizer, as well as for manufacturing a new range of sustainable products. BiotHOP, with the hop waste, has been able to develop pots for the fruit and vegetable sector and packaging for the food sector.
This project is co-financed by the Life Program (Grant Agreement No. LIFE18 ENV/SI/000056 with the amount of 1,055,945.00 €), by the Slovenian Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning, by the following municipalities Žalec, Vransko, Polzela, Braslovče, Tabor, Prebold and by the Slovenian Association of Hop Producers. The total budget of the project is 1,919,901.00 €.