Applications of lignin in the agri-food industry
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Of late, valorization of agri-food industrial by-products and their sustainable utilization is gaining much contemplation world-over. Globally, 'Zero Waste Concept' is promoted with main emphasis laid towards generation of minimal wastes and maximal utilization of plantbased agri-food raw materials. One of the wastes/by-products in the agri-food industry are the lignin, which occurs as lignocellulosic biomass. This biomass is deliberated to be an environmental pollutant as they offer resistance to natural biodegradation. Safe disposal of this biomass is often considered a major challenge, especially in low-income countries. Hence, the application of modern technologies to effectively reduce these types of wastes and maximize their potential use/applications is vital in the present day scenario. Nevertheless, in some of the high-income countries, attempts have been made to efficiently utilize lignin as a source of fuel, as a raw material in the paper industry, as a filler material in biopolymer based packaging and for producing bioethanol. However, as of today, agri-food industrial applications remains significantly underexplored. Chemically, lignin is heterogeneous, bio-polymeric, polyphenolic compound, which is present naturally in plants, providing mechanical strength and rigidity. Reports are available wherein purified lignin is established to possess therapeutic values; and are rich in antioxidant, anti-microbial, anti-carcinogenic, antidiabetic properties, etc. This chapter is divided into four sub-categories focusing on various technological aspects related to isolation and characterization of lignin; established uses of lignin; proved bioactivities and therapeutic potentials of lignin, and finally on identifying the existing research gaps followed by future recommendations for potential use from agri-food industrial wastes.