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Project CurCol: Curcumine based sustainable colours

The Interreg NWE project CurCol aims to demonstrate economic potential for the production chains from regionally produced plants to colourants in packaging. The project assesses three pilots for colourant production and application in plastic and paper packaging, by defining barriers, business cases and action plans. The focus of CurCol is on the yellow natural colourant Kurkumine.

The Challenge

Europe absorbed approximately 87 million tons of packaging waste per year. (Industrial) composting is often used for biobased packaging materials, such as PLA. Non-biodegradable synthetic colourants are released during composting. Many contain toxic components that accumulate in the environment. When recycling paper, these colourants also end up in wastewater. We can prevent this by using natural colours. Project partners from Ireland, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands join the CurCol project to reach this.


The Solution: transition to curcumine colours

The few available biodegradable colourants do not meet the quality criteria, so that the packaging industry cannot use them now as an alternative to fossil-based substances. Curcumine, a yellow natural colorant, is already used in food and pharmaceuticals. Wide application is hampered, mainly due to poor UV stability. Recent research shows that it is possible to improve UV stability and generate other colors like red and blue. CurCol continues this research.

Long term

The aim of the project is:

  • The valorisation of biobased dyes in biodegradable packaging,
  • introduction of a valuable crop in the greenhouse industry
  • and identification of new supply chains,
  • signaling growth in jobs and economic activity.

On the long term new knowledge and transnational partnerships support the transition to a circular and biobased economy. CurCol focuses on packaging, but application in, for example, textiles and cosmetics is also possible.

Want to know more about this project? Please contact Bas Koebrugge, Project leader CurCol,


  • Avans University of Applies Sciences
  • PCG Vegetable research centre
  • Centexbel
  • Rubia 100% natural colours
  • Athlone Institute for Biobased Materials
  • DeltaQ
  • University of Münster
  • Rodenburg Biopolymers