How could we better harness food waste to fuel more sustainable approaches to food production?
While consumers are doing their bit to reduce food wastage in the home, a new raft of producers, retailers, restaurateurs and entrepreneurs are working together to identify better ways of repurposing the by-products of food production on small and large scales.
Fuelling New Growth from Old Food
Looking at the big picture, Melbourne-based social enterprise Circular Food focuses on addressing large scale food waste by turning it into an organic bio-fertiliser.
By taking the 'worm farm' model and scaling it to fit commercial food production, they are not only reducing the amount of waste going to landfill, but also improving overall soil quality and creating better growth conditions for the large scale food producers they work with.
While for the urban farmer, the Zera Food Recycler system gives individuals the chance to make an impact with a compact version of the same solution - delivered in a format that fits neatly into your kitchen.
Using a combination of oxygen, moisture and heat mixing to speed up the decomposition process, Zera can recycle a weeks worth of household food waste and creates a ready-to-use fertiliser in just 24 hours.
Extending the Life of Coffee
Coffee Flour is focusing it's efforts entirely on the leftover waste from coffee bean production.
Taking the fruit from the coffee plant, which would otherwise be left to rot once the coffee beans have been extracted, the company creates a flour that can then be used to enhance or sweeten the flavour of a variety of different foods... and boost their nutritional value at the same time.
Further into the life cycle of the coffee bean, an Australian start up aptly named Life Cykel, is taking coffee grounds from restaurants and giving them new life as a soil base for growing mushrooms. What's more, participating restaurants are then able to source back those mushrooms grown in their own coffee bean waste to create a unique, signature dish for their menus.
Whilst still in their infancy, these new environmental initiatives present a vision of the future where individuals and organisation at every stage of the food life cycle can address the fundamental challenge of food waste without financial penalty.
In fact, by finding innovative ways to re-purpose and recycle the by-products & leftovers of the food ecosystem, they've uncovered new business models with the potential to create genuine economic & environmental value for companies at the same time.