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Innovative Uses for Food Waste and Side Stream Products

Wet corn cobs milled as animal feed. Waste from the end of corn shelling process

Recently we’ve had a number of customers who are working to use waste and side-stream products from the food industry to produce useful products. It has been fascinating to learn about the research that is going into optimising the value of crops, and reducing the strain on landfill.

Food Waste

Food waste is a hot topic in the media, and for good reason – millions of tonnes of food is wasted each year in the UK alone by both the food industry, and through household waste. Together we are learning how to cut down our waste, by buying only what we need, changing how food products are labelled, and redistributing surplus food.

But what about non-edible food waste produced in the manufacturing of food and products? There is a massive amount of waste produced worldwide such as spent grain from distilleries; animal products such as blood, bones, hair and offal that is produced by the meat industry; orange peel and residue following juice extraction; potato peelings; sugar beet pulp; coffee grounds… the list goes on. Much of this waste is used for animal feed or composting, with some other specific uses.

What are some current management options for waste products?

While animal feed and composting are two of the biggest side stream options for food waste, there are a number of other more specific (and unexpected) uses, including:

Whey: Can be used for microbial cultures, fermentation and production of peptides and glucose.

Egg shells: Source of calcium for animal feed. Also filler for plastics

Blood: Pharmaceutical uses and anaerobic digestion

Bones: Production of chemicals such as glues and detergents, gelatin, and gel products

Worldwide, there is ongoing research across a variety of sectors into side-stream options for realising the full potential of crops to ensure maximum yield and usage.

Read more about how food waste is being reduced in Europe: https://wrap.org.uk/resources/guide/refresh

Food waste hierarchy
Infographic from Brief on Food Waste in the European Union by the European Commission’s Knowledge Centre for Bioeconomy

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