CURCOL - Curcumin based sustainable Colours

Project Summary

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 Curcumine.


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.

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.


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Project Partners

Lead partner

Organisation Address Email Website
Stichting Avans 13 Professor Cobbenhagenlaan
5037 DA
Name Contact Name Email Country
Provinciaal Proefcentrum voor de Groenteteelt Oost-Vlaanderen vzw Saskia Buijsens Belgium
Centexbel Isabel De Schrijver Belgium
Rubia 100% Natural Colours Rudolph de Jong Netherlands
Athlone Institute of Technology Margaret Fournet Ireland
Aachen Maastricht Institute for Biobased Materials e.V. Yvonne van der Meer Germany
DeltaQ T/A Quality Additives Patrik Rohrer Ireland
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster Bodo Philipp Germany


CurCol project brings innovation to the packaging industry with natural dyes

Posted on

The CurCol project, in which partners from Ireland, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands worked together, conducted research to the potential of Curcumin as a natural dye. The CurCol project is an important step towards sustainable packaging and materials. The production of turmeric-based dyes with improved quality and suitability for use in plastic packaging and inks is possible. It is a natural alternative to synthetic dyes. The project is an inspiration for other companies in the industry to also work on sustainability and hopefully encourages end users and retailers so that natural dyes can enter the market. This will contribute to a greener future for Europe and the rest of the world. Read More

Processing of colored bio-plastic materials

Posted on

The best color stability is reached when using the modified curcumine additives, as produced by Avans Hogeschool. Samples were aged behind a window and it seemed that after 1 year, all non-modified curcumine samples colored brown to dark orange. In case the modified variants were used, the yellow color was maintained, but the saturation of the color diminished. Read More

Enrichment of Curcumin-degrading Bacteria

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Investigation of the biodegradability of the colorants derived from the CurCol project is a major factor for sustainability. To achieve an overview of how the colorants are biodegraded and which intermediates are formed, a closer look at the whole degradation pathway is helpful. Therefore, partners from the University of Münster are looking at the microbial degradation of the natural colorant curcumin as a proof of principle. Read More

Pregermination lances yield of Flemish bio turmeric

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In the context of the Interreg Northwest Europe project CurCol, PCG investigates the regional cultivation of the turmeric plant for coloring purposes. On April 21 2021 pregerminated turmeric rhizomes were planted in a greenhouse in Kruisem, Flanders at the headquarters of PCG (Proefcentrum voor Groenteteelt). The object of this trial was to obtain a more uniform and qualitative yield than the first trial in 2020. Read More


CurCol webinar

, Online

Did you know that in Europe we produce about 87 million tons of packaging waste every year? The good news is that some of this is made from bioplastic that is recyclable or biodegradable. The bad news is that these processes still release non-biodegradable and often toxic synthetic dyes. Can we counteract this by using natural dyes? Yes! On May 17, the Curcol project will present the latest developments in the field of turmeric-based dyes and applications. Learn from our experts and have your say!
Read More

Natural colorants for bioplastics

, Online

Did you know that we produce about 87 million tons of packaging waste per year in Europe? The good news is that a part of this is made of bioplastics that is recyclable or biodegradable. The bad news is that these processes still release non-biodegradable and often toxic synthetic colorants. Can we counter this by using natural colorants? Yes! Join our webinar on the 20th of April and learn more!
Read More

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