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Turning biowaste into sustainable products: development of appropriate conversion technologies applicable in developing countries

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A better use for food waste

Developing countries are rich in biowaste from the food industry that goes to waste without being reused or converted. Researchers are working on processes aimed at converting biowaste into useful products.

Industrial Technologies

Food waste is a massive problem globally, with up to 30 % of total food produced ending up in a landfill site. This wasteful practice represents an opportunity to turn that waste into something useful. The EU-funded BIOWASTE4SP (Turning biowaste into sustainable products: Development of appropriate conversion technologies applicable in developing countries) initiative aimed to convert biowaste from the African food industry and agricultural sectors into sustainable products, such as food and feed ingredients. Researchers relied on simple and locally available equipment along with naturally occurring microorganisms for the technologies they used. BIOWASTE4SP ensured that the initiative was applicable to each country by assessing the socioeconomic circumstances of each nation. The project team developed a feedstock catalogue that has information on biowastes and bioresidues found in large quantities in the partner countries. They used a total of 49 biomass samples, many of which are potentially sugar-rich and nutrient-rich feedstock. BIOWASTE4SP developed a generic biorefinery process and was able to retrieve up to 80 % of sugars from biomass feedstock. Other outputs from biomass identified during the project included fertilisers and proteins. In particular, the proteins can be a source of amino acids to be used in new foods and feed. Wider socioeconomic benefits of BIOWASTE4SP work include raising the technological level in Africa, especially with regard to capacity building through education and training. This will enable sustained development of the African biowaste sector and biowaste as a valuable resource capable of benefiting society.

Keywords

Food waste, developing countries, biowaste, BIOWASTE4SP, conversion technologies, feedstock

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