Recent Advancements in the Valorization of Agro-Industrial Food Waste for the Production of Nanocellulose
The rising climate change concerns over the excessive exploitation of non-renewable sources have necessitated the need for alternative renewable and eco-friendly resources for the production of innovative materials, achieving the targets of bioeconomy. Lignocellulosic biomass (LB) constituted by polymeric sugars and lignin is an abundantly available plant-based renewable material in the form of agro-industrial food waste and crop residues that can be exploited for the production of an array of value-added chemicals and bioproducts. Cellulose is the most abundant natural and biodegradable organic polymer on earth derived from LB, with wide scale applications in the lignocellulosic biorefineries and food industries. The negative effects of food waste from agro-industrial activities could be reduced through the recovery of cellulose from these wastes and converting it into valuable forms. However, the extraction of cellulose from LB is a difficult task owing to the recalcitrant nature of biomass that restricts the easy accessibility of cellulose for value addition. Therefore, a suitable cellulose extraction method through the fractionation of LB is necessary for a better cellulose yield. Furthermore, owing to the enormous potential of nanocellulose (NC), researchers are keenly interested in developing ecologically acceptable cellulose extraction methods. Cellulose nanofibrils and nanocrystals confer excellent mechanical properties, non-toxic characteristics and biodegradability, due to which they possess wide-scale applications in diverse industrial sectors. The current review emphasizes the potential role of cellulose extraction and NC production from agro-food waste. The different pretreatment methods for their extraction from LB are outlined. The applications of nanocellulose in different areas are also discussed. The review also highlights the recent trends, challenges and future directions in the development of cellulose and NC-based commercial products.