Food Waste: From Crisis to Business Opportunity

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Consider the last time you brought home a haul of fresh fruits and vegetables, looking forward to a week of healthy eating, only to have your berries go bad overnight, your greens wilt in the fridge and the avocados go soft on the counter. Wasting food can be frustrating, and a hit on your wallet. 

You’re hardly alone in these frustrations—the world has a staggering food waste problem. The UN Environment Programme estimates that a quarter of the agriculture sector’s water, and land greater than the size of China, goes toward producing food that is ultimately uneaten.

Source: Movinga, Statista

Fortunately, retailers and others are innovating new technologies, foods, and strategies to minimize waste.

Source: BCG

Here are 3 revolutionary initiatives that are fighting food waste:

Bread Beer 

Source: Toast Ale

In 2016, activist Tristram Stuart launched a beer called Toast Ale, brewed with surplus bread. In the UK, bread tops the list of household food waste, with 24 million slices thrown out each day. Toast Ale uses the grains from otherwise-wasted bread to replace malted barley. With its roots in England, Toast Ale is also brewed in New York, Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, and Reykjavik. 

“I know bread was being wasted all over the world in industrial quantities while it is still absolutely fresh. Beer is a way of getting the message out that actually, we can correct this problem by having a massive celebration,” says Stuart.

Follow Toast Ale on Instagram.

Using Food Waste to Make Buildings

Source: Biohm

Biohm, a ‘biomanufacturing’ company is creating building materials from mushrooms, orange peel, cocoa husks, and other food waste. The London-based company has developed an alternative to wood-based sheet materials made from waste by-products from the food or agricultural sectors. 

Called Orb, the composite material is 100% biodegradable and vegan and can be molded into shapes. 

Source: Biohm

Biohm has also developed a world-first insulation panel made from mycelium – the white, thread-like roots that grow from fungus. The natural mushroom fibers can outperform some insulation products. 

Source: Biohm

Watch this video to find out how Ehab Sayed, Founder and Director of Innovation at Biohm, plans to revolutionize the construction industry.

Follow Biohm on Instagram and Twitter.

Composting Food Waste 

Source: Maeko

When food waste goes to landfills it releases methane, a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide. One way to make sure your leftovers aren’t left to rot like this is to put them to use by turning them into compost.  

Maeko, based in Kuala Lumpur, has invented a machine that produces compost. The machine crushes the waste and agitates it to speed up the process – resulting in a bio-organic compost that’s ready to use within a day (this usually takes between six and 24 months). 

Source: Maeko

As well as its range of industrial composters – aimed at shops, restaurants, hotels, schools, and more – Maeko is introducing the appropriately named Munchbot, a small-scale portable composter for home use. 

Source: Maeko

“Recycling 1 tonne of food waste using its rapid-composting method, rather than sending it to landfill, prevents greenhouse gas emissions that would otherwise take 398 trees a year to absorb”, Maeko says.

Check out my latest post if you’re interested in learning more about this topic:

Use By Vs. Best Before

 

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About Author

Hi! How cool would it be to live in a world where no food is wasted? Food production requires valuable, scarce and environmentally harmful resources that are wasted every day. This waste is avoidable. My goal is to raise awareness and inspire and move you all to stand up against food waste. Let's actively tackle this issue together so we can reduce the unnecessary consequences of food waste!

8 Comments

  1. Polina Vinokurova
    Polina Vinokurova on

    Nina, thank you for an interesting post! I read about this initiative usuing the food waste for building the houses in Scandinavian countries, but you covered many details that I didn’t know before. Also, I want to point out that you made your posts very engaging by including videos. Looking forward for your new articles.

    • Francesca Bosancic on

      Hi Polina 🙂 I’m glad you found this post interesting. When I came across these ideas, I wondered if people knew about them. I had to share with as many people as I could because I truly believe these examples can inspire everyone to think outside the box when it comes to tackling food waste.

  2. Sven Blättler on

    Great article Nina! it is always good to see that some people try to tackle this issues with great ideas. Never heard of Biohm, seems like a great product.

    Lets hope this ideas will become mainstream 🙂

    • Francesca Bosancic on

      Hi Sven! You are absolutely right. These are some of the many ideas out there that tackle this issue. Can you imagine a world in which subjects like the circular economy or zero waste are deeply ingrained in every business model? What a dream 🙂

  3. Mijail Dalzell
    Mijail Dalzell on

    human creativity never ceases to amaze me, if we would use our collective intellect more to reduce all this organic waste and make functional products to take care of our planet…
    Thank you!
    by the way… CHEERS! Toast Ale made me thirsty hehehe

    • Francesca Bosancic on

      Dear Mijail, who knows? Maybe this article inspired you just enough to come up with a revolutionary business idea 🙂 If they can do it, we can too.
      I know right? What a cool way to make beer 🙂

  4. Demet Torul
    Demet Torul on

    Always learning something new while reading your posts, Francesca! I wonder what causes the gap between perceived and actual food waste.

    • Francesca Bosancic on

      Hi Demet! That makes me very glad:) Could it be related to the value we actually give food and how disposable we consider it to be?

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