Solid-state fermentation and composting as alternatives to treat hair waste: A life-cycle assessment comparative approach

Eva Catalán, Dimitrios Komilis, Antoni Sánchez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


© The Author(s) 2017. One of the wastes associated with leather production in tannery industries is the hair residue generated during the dehairing process. Hair wastes are mainly dumped or managed through composting but recent studies propose the treatment of hair wastes through solid-state fermentation (SSF) to obtain proteases and compost. These enzymes are suitable for its use in an enzymatic dehairing process, as an alternative to the current chemical dehairing process. In the present work, two different scenarios for the valorization of the hair waste are proposed and assessed by means of life-cycle assessment: composting and SSF for protease production. Detailed data on hair waste composting and on SSF protease production are gathered from previous studies performed by our research group and from a literature survey. Background inventory data are mainly based on Ecoinvent version 3 from software SimaPro® 8. The main aim of this study was to identify which process results in the highest environmental impact. The SSF process was found to have lower environmental impacts than composting, due to the fact that the enzyme use in the dehairing process prevents the use of chemicals traditionally used in the dehairing process. This permits to reformulate an industrial process from the classical approach of waste management to a novel alternative based on circular economy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)786-790
JournalWaste Management and Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017


  • Life-cycle assessment
  • dehairing
  • hair waste
  • solid-state fermentation
  • tanning industry


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