Waste not, want not: new approaches to forsaken food
Australians love their food. Cooking shows have us spellbound and are rating juggernauts for TV networks, celebrity cooks and judges are treated like rock stars, and we’re spending billions eating out … and in.
Revenue for the restaurants industry is estimated to be worth $20.1 billion in 2017-18, and that doesn’t include the cafes and coffee shops proliferating in suburban strips. The cafes and coffee shops’ industry revenue in 2017-18 is estimated to be $8.3 billion.
And still, the average household spends about $237 a week on food and non-alcoholic beverages, about $12,300 a year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Household Expenditure Survey.
Yes, we love our food, but this story isn’t about the food we love to eat. It’s a story about the food we don’t eat. Or more precisely, what we can do with the food we waste and those parts of the food we would normally throw away, such as the pith, the peel and the pips. Because there’s mountains of it in landfill.
Food waste is estimated to cost the Australian economy about $20 billion every year, with consumers throwing away around 3.1 million tonnes of it. Another 2.2 million tonnes is disposed of by the commercial and industrial sector.
In a May 2018 report, Sustainability Victoria estimated that the average value of household food wastage in the state was $2136.68 a year. That equates to an estimated cost of $5.4 billion annually.
Globally, it’s even more alarming. Every year around the globe, 1.3 billion tonnes of food is lost or wasted – that’s one-third of all food produced for human consumption, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.
Breaking down global food losses and waste by commodity, it estimated that
In 2016, the Commonwealth Government released the National Food Waste Strategy: Halving Australia’s food waste by 2030 report, in which it said “wastage costs the global economy around US$940 billion”.
And all that food that ends up as landfill garnish? It produces eight per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Further to this is the waste of resources in growing, packing, transporting and marketing the products. This includes the water, land, energy, fuel and natural resources. For example, food waste accounts for 24 per cent of the world’s fresh water; it’s estimated that 1000 litres of water is required to produce one litre of milk, and throwing out a kilogram of potatoes means 500 litres of water is wasted.
Tony Patti is a professor at Monash University’s School of Chemistry. In collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, researchers from the school are working with the Monash Food Innovation Centre, industry and farmers to help transform this food waste into profits.
They call it “biomass valorisation”. The word valorisation comes from the German word verwertung, the general meaning of which is, according Wikipedia, “the productive use of a resource, and more specifically the use or application of something (an object, process or activity) so that it makes money, or generates value”.
Professor Patti said biomass valorisation looks at the entire fruit or vegetable, not just what is eaten, which is what currently provides value to the grower.
“The skins, seeds, kernels, leaves and offcuts were seen as ‘waste’, adding to their disposal costs. These byproducts are not waste, but a potential valuable resource, providing several components, identified as being of high market value,” Professor Patti said.
“Monash is working with Australian growers and businesses to diversify the potential market opportunities where these food byproducts can be recovered, including expansion into the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and pet food industries.”
Read full article HERE. Source & Credit @ Monash University.