16 Dec 2022

Cooperation from ITU for Sustainable Agriculture

ITUNOVA Technology Transfer Office and Cargill are collaborating to develop sustainable agriculture and bioindustrial products with “Zero Waste in the Field” and “Bioindustrial Products” projects.

News: İTÜ Media and Communication Office

Istanbul Technical University is collaborating with Cargill to take important steps in the field of sustainability in our country. Within the scope of the “Zero Waste in the Field” and “Bioindustrial Products” projects launched in 2020 with the participation of ITUNOVA Technology Transfer Office, farmers are given trainings, and wastes are transformed into products with high added value. Studies are carried out with various stakeholders to recycle plant by-products such as stalks, straw, and cobs that are produced during the period from sowing to harvest, and plastics used in agricultural activities that later become waste, and to return them into the economy.

Our Rector Prof. Dr. İsmail Koyuncu commented on the Zero Waste Management in Agriculture Project. Stating that ITU attaches great importance to university-industry cooperation in its R&D activities, Koyuncu expressed that one of the important issues for ITU in such sustainability-oriented projects is to contribute to value-added products and thanked the project stakeholders.

Prof. Koyuncu said, “If the point is to contribute to an important issue such as sustainability, we can say that this becomes much more important for us.” Our Rector expressed that the focus for ITU is to contribute to value-added products, whether it is the private sector or the public sector, and thanked the project stakeholders.

Project coordinator and ITU Department of Chemical Engineering faculty member Prof. Dr. Filiz Karaosmanoğlu gave the following information about the project: “Within the scope of this project, we realized a first; we completed our zero waste management system model study in the field. We collected the plastic wastes from our farmers’ fields, including those in the hazardous category, and brought them to licensed waste collection, sorting and recycling facilities. Thus, we added value to the economy and provided employment.”

Turkish Plastics Industrialists Research, Development and Education Foundation (PAGEV) is another stakeholder in the “Zero Waste in the Field” Project. Yavuz Eroğlu, the President of PAGEV and also an ITU graduate, expressed the importance of the Zero Waste in the Field Project with these words: “A large amount of plastic waste is generated as a result of agricultural activities. Things such as greenhouse covers, parts of drip irrigation systems, packaging of agricultural chemicals were being collected in the environment and at some points of the fields before our project.”

Murat Tarakçıoğlu, CEO of Cargill Türkiye, stated that with the “Zero Waste in the Field” and “Bioindustrial Products” projects, which are part of the “1000 Farmers Endless Prosperity” social responsibility program, they have strengthened their long-standing cooperation with ITU with a focus on sustainability. Tarakçıoğlu said that, with these projects, they aim both to return waste generated in the fields into the economy and to produce plant-based industrial products with high added value such as transformer oil, asphalt, corn protein, and dietary foods.

Farmers who participate in the “Zero Waste in the Field” project carried out by ITU with Cargill emphasized their contentment with taking part in the project. Farmer stakeholders stated that with this project, they now consciously collect plastic waste, which they used to dispose of by burning, and work with waste collection centers. They stated that they adopted different practices within the project to reduce the amount of waste, such as reusing fertilizer sacks.

Konya and Karaman were selected as pilot regions for the project. Life cycle assessments were made and carbon footprints were calculated for corn in 2021 and for sunflower and canola in 2022. With this project so far, tons of plastic waste has been recycled and agricultural waste has been used as alternative fuel in cement production. Carbon emissions from waste have been reduced. Farmers have been trained on topics such as energy-water-resource efficiency and climate literacy.

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