An extra present can be found under, or rather, within, a Christmas tree after it has served its holiday purpose. The lignocellulose-laden pine needles can be processed to yield feedstocks for food additives, paints and various consumer products.

Seven million of the eight million Christmas trees that decorate the U.K. annually are landfilled, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. The high lignocellulose load of tree Source: University of SheffieldSource: University of Sheffieldcomponents makes for a less-than-ideal source of bioenergy. University of Sheffield, U.K., researchers advocate the biorefining of pine needles to cut the country’s carbon footprint while producing bio-chemicals as substitutes for less sustainable industrial chemicals.

The bio-oil derived by thermal and solvent treatments contains components, such as glucose, acetic acid and phenol, of use in many industries. A solid bio-char with industrial value is also produced in a process that generates zero waste.

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