Biorefining citrus peel; Global Shaper Sytze van Stempvoort is making it happen!

Who are you?

My name is Sytze van Stempvoort and I live in Amsterdam When I was younger I grew up being enthusiastic about a lot of thing. By the time I went to primary school I was certain I'd

become an architect-writer-football playing scientist. None of those childhood dreams materialized but the enthusiasm and

never stopping curiosity remained. Which makes that I have a very eclectic collection of hobbies: from bread baking to

outdoor rock climbing and from acting to collecting books. All in all I'm a happy person who is sometimes in need of

a relaxing moment...


What should we know from you we can't find on the internet?

If it's not on the internet, it did not happen right? Despite that I'm sure the internet does not say anything about

my rather peculiar habit of keeping notes for future speeches at funerals, weddings and birthdays of dear friends.


What exciting project are you working on now?

I'm the founder of PeelPioners - a Dutch start-up. With a team of six we've developed a biorefinery for citrus peel. Due to

an increasing demand for fresh juice in the Western world we end up with a lot of citrus peel in non citrus producing countries

like the Netherlands (250 million kg anually and growing). This peel is now incinerated which is rather stupid because

with that we waste valuable resources inside the peel. Our technology enables us to capture those resources. We turn peel

into: fragrances, fibres and food ingredients.


What has driven you, starting this project?

My interest was sparked when someone I knew from La Place (a Dutch restaurant chain) complained about the enormous quantities

of orange peel he had to throw away every day. Having worked on citrus peel valorization while studying chemistry I

say an opportunity of a circular business where a local waste stream would be used as feedstock for products serving local

markets. That 'window of opportunity' combined with my naive enthusiasm has made me embark on what already is an exciting

journey full of (often pleasant) surprises.


Why did you join the Global Shapers hub in Amsterdam?

When I was present at an event about sustainability I met Paulette van Ommen (an Amsterdam shaper and working for DSM as

global climate lead) she persuaded me to have a look at the community. Although I had not heard of the Global Shapers

community I was inspired by the variety of people active there and the chance to get in touch with other interesting people

around the globe all working on changing the status quo in their respective niches.


What can we expect from you in the upcoming 2 years?

I'd really love to share knowledge on biobased economy and the waste to resource transition with anyone who is interested.

The trend in 'waste management' is that waste is considered as a resource more and often. At the same time we're in need

for new types of feedstocks for all industries that cater to consumer demands. This poses a great challenge to which

I hope I can contribute. In the next two years I'll keep working on expanding PeelPioneers, realizing plants for citrus

peel valorization in first the Netherlands and then neighboring countries.