Researchers from the Monash University’s School of Chemistry, in an international collaboration with IITB (India), are working with the Food Innovation Centre, industry and farmers to help them turn food waste into profits.
With more than $5.4 billion worth of food being dumped annually in Victoria alone, Monash is using a holistic approach to ‘biomass valorisation’ to help industry extract high value components such as the antioxidants, oils, pectin and protein from food disposal – ranging from mango, pomegranate and pineapple skin, to spent coffee grounds and almond ash.
This also extends to fresh produce that is disposed for not meeting the ‘cosmetic standards’ of supermarkets.
“This biomass valorisation approach, looks at the entire fruit or vegetable and not just the part that is eaten or the juice extracted, that currently provides the value to the grower. The skins, seeds, kernels, leaves and off-cuts were seen as ‘waste’, adding to their disposal costs. These by-products are not waste, but a potential valuable resource, providing several components, identified as being of high market value,” Professor Tony Patti said.
“Monash is working with Australian growers and businesses to diversify the potential market opportunities, including expansion into the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and pet food industries.
“Using this research, food and agricultural companies can tackle costly waste challenges, improve their environmental footprint and create a sustainable business that takes full advantage of growing demand in domestic and export markets for high quality food products.”