European third price for turning bread waste into biobased packaging

On 21 October 2021, five chemistry and biochemistry students took third place in a European student competition with their loaf foam project.

With their idea to make packing peanuts from bread scraps, they prevent food waste and they replace a polluting, plastics based packaging product with a bio based and biodegradable alternative.

slogan Loaf Foam

The Biobased Innovation Student Challenge Europe (BISC-E), organized by the End-of-Waste and GREEN-CHEM networks at AUGent, encourages students to explore innovation in the bio economy while designing a new biobased product or process. Circularity, sustainability, and reducing the use of fossil fuels are important criteria.

Would it not be great to turn bread waste into a useful product? That was what a team of HoGent students (Marte Vandenbroucke, Niels Soen, Bjarne Roelens, Jeroen Luyckx and Laurens Bodart) thought when they started Loaf Foam. They want to convert this waste into a useful biobased packing peanut to replace the plastics, such as Expanded PolyStyrene (EPS), that are conventionally used as packaging protection.

At the end of September, the first European selection round took place online, where the Loaf Foam team and 14 other European student teams presented their idea to a technical jury. The HOGENT team finished third in this technical preliminary round, and had to face the Netherlands, Ireland, Italy and Portugal in the final.

The final was embedded in BioSYNERGISE 2021, a B2B networking event organized by the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC) at its annual gathering of top bio-based industry experts. During this online event, the 5 finalists had to present their innovative idea to the major players in the biobased industry on the basis of a promotional video and a presentation with a question session at the event. The HOGENT team ended on the third place. Loaf Foam had to let the Dutch (Waterskins) and Irish (PhytoTowel) team lead the way.

This third price includes a financial award, a free one-year membership to BIC and a lot of publicity as the competition really aims to bridge the knowledge gap between students and bio-based materials.  

Now they want to further prove the techno-economic feasibility and the sustainability of their solution to take actual steps towards creating a start-up to commercialize their idea. “We never thought that we could turn this student project into an actual business, but look at us now”, explains Niels. 

Hopefully the story of Loaf Foam will inspire even more students and more countries to participate to the next edition of this European BISC-E competition. The goal of this competition is to move forward to actual entrepreneurship! Of course, we are here to help: if you want to start your own national bio-based innovation student competition and/or have a team of students working on relevant projects, you can contact: or

Watch here the video of Loaf Foam.