PRé and the University of Wageningen unravel the value of sustainable food waste streams
One of the biggest challenges of the sustainable food industry is to minimise or even eradicate food waste. Applying circular economy and life cycle assessment principles, PRé and the University of Wageningen collaborated in the Infinity Foods program, building the value business case for food waste streams.
The primary production, trade and industrial processing of vegetables result in a large proportion of vegetable waste in food waste streams. Nowadays, this vegetable waste is often fermented, composted, used as feed for animals or used to obtain sustainable energy. However, the product waste streams contain valuable components, such as vitamins, minerals, and carotenes. Therefore, several companies and the Wageningen research institute Food & Biobased Research collaborated within the Infinity Vegetables public-private partnership to increase the value of waste streams originating from vegetable production. With the underlying idea of ‘food should remain food’, their goal was to add as much value as possible to vegetable waste streams following the waste hierarchy of Moerman.
What you can do when you have the resources right at hand
Sometimes, making production processes more sustainable is not so much about optimising the individual processes as it is about cleverly chaining processes together. Finding out that the waste of another production process could serve as input for yours opens up great possibilities, and food waste streams are often great places to look for such opportunities. This is the basis of visionary new business models, such as the Circular economy. However, it is important not to get carried away by the idea without first checking whether this chaining also makes sense from an economic and environmental perspective.
Comparing a variety of alternatives
For the Infinity Vegetables project, it was important to check whether using vegetable waste streams like residual carrots was an attractive idea from an environmental perspective, besides the economic advantages. These residual carrots could be used to produce dietary fibre and beta-carotene, which are now produced from specially-grown carrots, citrus peels and several other sources. From an LCA comparing the various production processes, it became clear that there is a strong environmental case for using residual carrots. For more information, read the case study.
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