24 Mar 2020

From Waste to Worth – A Collaboration to Recover Value from Low-Grade Edible Oils


More businesses recognise the importance of sustainability and are taking a more active stance to integrate into their business strategy and processes.

For GIIAVA, a manufacturer and exporter of soya lecithin powder and liquid, sustainability plays an important role in creating value for the customers it serves in the edible oil industry and agriculture sector. Based in India and Singapore, its operations span from de-oiling of lecithin, manufacturing of animal feed ingredients as well as the conversion of agricultural waste.

In late 2015, GIIAVA shared their interest to expand their R&D footprint in Singapore, particularly in the waste-to-worth sector with IPI. They were open to gaining more insight into new technologies and meet potential partners for collaboration to support their plans for growth.

“The circular economy is the only sustainable way for us to grow on a planet with finite resources. We see upscaling of wastes to be a key part of this endeavour,” said Dr Yashodan Bhawe, Technical Director of GIIAVA.

IPI introduced GIIAVA to Associate Professor Yang Kun-Lin from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering of National University of Singapore (NUS) to explore the suitability of the University’s patented bioprocessing technology.

Following discussions, GIIAVA teamed up with NUS to co-develop a process to treat and extract value from low-grade edible oil. Typically, these oils end up in low-value applications like fuel or disposal. It was GIIAVA’s wish to upcycle them to at least animal-feed level applications or better. A successful 12-month scale-up from laboratory to pilot led to the signing of an exclusive license agreement in September 2019.

“GIIAVA is delighted with the outcome of the R&D collaboration with NUS. We will be exploring the next steps for investment into a facility to bring this to production and generate a new revenue stream through the valorisation of low-grade edible oil,” said Dr Bhawe.

He added, “IPI has been a great resource for us in reaching out to organisations that can offer us innovative solutions to the challenges we face. They have been a valuable partner as far as the innovation space in Singapore is concerned. IPI allows SMEs with lower visibility the opportunity to interact with research institutions in a manner that would otherwise not have happened.”

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