RITESSERE: silk by-product reborn into new materials

Recovering sericin to produce high-tech materials, in a circular economy perspective

The RETESSERE (Silk Sericin materials from textile industry by-products) project has kicked off, funded by the Fondazione Cariplo. It aims to use the by-product from the treatment of raw silk, sericin, for the production of new materials and devices in the field of life sciences.

RITESSERE will evaluate new technologies which, starting from the sericin obtained from raw material of Italian origin with traceability certification (cocoon or raw silk), will lead to the obtainment of both two-dimensional electrospun matrices composed only of sericin, and new materials based on specifically modified sericin. These products will be characterized from a chemical-physical and morphological point of view, and the impact of their introduction on the textile industry market and on other high-tech sectors will be analysed.

In particular, the advantages of the circular approach will be demonstrated through three actions:

• sericin-based facial masks for the cosmetic industry

• three-dimensional scaffolds of sericin for cell culture

• modified sericin-based film for the packaging industry.

RITESSERE aims to demonstrate how sericin can be systematically recovered and used to produce high-tech materials. Starting from silk of Italian origin, RITESSERE will define and optimize a technological process aimed at giving nobility to this waste product, proposing a new sustainable and circular method for the silk production cycle.

The results of the project will also be conveyed and made available through continuous interaction with the Advisory Board, made up of players with a driving role in the silk industry, in the definition of new circular economy practices and in the involvement of civil society (Associazione Costruttori Italiani di Macchinario per l’Industria Tessile, Donne in Campo, Ufficio Italiano Seta, MADE-Competence Center Industria 4.0, Rigano Laboratories, Associazione per il Museo della Seta di Como).

The three-year project RITESSERE is a project funded by Fondazione Cariplo with the Economia Circolare - Promuovere ricerca per un futuro sostenibile program, and is led by Professor Simone Vesentini of the Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering and by professors Paolo Rosa and Sergio Terzi of the Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering of the Politecnico di Milano.

Partners in the project, coordinated by our university, are Università degli Studi Milano Bicocca and Consiglio per la ricerca in agricoltura e l’analisi dell’economia agraria (Council for Agricultural Research and Agricultural Economics Analysis).

The RITESSERE project has received funding from Fondazione Cariplo, grant n° 2022-0529

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