Green economy is a sustainable development tool based on the valorization of economic, natural and social resources. It is recognized as a tool to be applied to all the production sectors (goods and services), as well as for the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. The FINNOVER project (“Innovative strategies for the development of cross-border green supply chains”) proposes a technical-economic path for the creation and development of new supply chains for the eco-sustainable extraction and use of natural bioactive compounds. In this study, an innovative extraction and re-use strategy to obtain value-added products from botanical by-products was developed as an alternative to waste incineration or composting. It was applied to Castanea sativa bud extract production as a case study, but it could be analogously applied for other herbal preparations. Castanea spp. and their preparations have been widely used for hundreds of years as medicinal plants in composite formulae. Bioactive compounds (botanicals) are quite variable in the plant material, according to genotype (intraspecific chemodiversity), different collection stages, pedoclimatic conditions of sampling sites (wild or cultivation zones), agrotechniques, and post-harvest handling. This research aimed to compare the bioactive compound pattern of Castanea spp. bud preparations (herbal preparations derived from embryonic fresh plant tissues as buds and sprouts) with the composition of extracts derived from the bud-waste management process. Molecules were extracted by the encoded traditional method (maceration in hydroglyceroalcoholic solution) and by green extraction technologies (Pulsed Ultrasound-Assisted Extraction). HPLC methods were used to identify and quantify the main bioactive compounds, and to obtain a specific profile to assess the contribution of every single bioactive class to the total phytocomplex. The established protocol was simple, sensitive and reliable and it could be used for the evaluation and quality control of natural products and relative eco-sustainable extracts. The valorization of bud marcs, which remain after the bud-preparation production, could have a significant economic impact for the commercial producers, representing an important innovation in this sector.
Keywords: chestnut, bud-preparations, processing waste, eco-sustainable extraction, botanicals