A large volume of waste and by-products is produced during production, harvesting, and industrial processing of agro-foods, such as vegetables and fruits. For many years, they have been considered undervalued and neglected substrates. The removal of residues from production lines has a negative impact on industry economy, and the disposal in landfill generates harmful effects on the environment and public health. In recent years, scientific research has shown greater interest in the recovery of their functional and nutritional components, improving them from waste to bioactive resources for health or food products.
The exploitation of wastes and by-products as safe ingredients for pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and nutraceutical purposes, or edible packaging films, requires a complex process of recovery, chemical quali-quantitative characterization, biological investigation, and technological transformation of bioactive derivatives. The main drawbacks for an efficient re-use of vegetable residue derivatives are their occurrence as sticky materials, with penetrating smell and unpleasant taste, critical water solubility, and dramatic stability behaviour over time. The production of micro- or nano- particles, by spray drying technique, is a strategy to convert extracts from wastes and by-products in a particulate long-lasting stable material, useful for oral or topical dosage forms. Another emerging opportunity to up-cycle agro-food wastes and by-products is the production of extracts with proven antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, which would be utilized in making edible films aimed at active packaging. The incorporation of functional extracts into the film-forming matrix allows the improvement of the film characteristics, subsequently avoiding oxidation and microbial spoilage of foodstuffs, extending their shelf-life.
The oral communication will describe researches of University of Salerno about selected wastes/by-products from Campania agro-industries: