WASTE NOT, WANT NOT
Europe's fruit and vegetable industries generate around 30 million tonnes of waste annually, most of which either goes into landfill or is used as lowquality compost or animal feed, without any treatment. This puts added strain on overburdened landfill sites and squanders valuable nutrients and biomass. The EU wants to maximise the potential to recycle and upgrade this organic waste for use in the food chain. The Coordination Action (CA) GRUB'S UP has gathered 23 partners from 11 countries including Israel to direct research into processes and technologies to recycle organic waste for value-added uses in the food chain, and encourage use of these processes and sustainable resource management in industry.
COORDINATION IS KEY
Recent EU laws and increased public concern about environmental issues have led to research into alternative uses for food chain waste, including biogas production, alternative building materials, incineration and bioadsorbents. Such waste can also be recycled into food additives, high-value animal feeds, and composts, thereby exploiting the by-products' nutritive properties.
There has been substantial research into these applications but it has been poorly coordinated and has yielded few marketable products. GRUB'S UP aims to organise the effort to find viable recycling processes and technologies.
The CA will also identify the state of the art in academic research and transfer this knowledge to industry. In turn, industry will communicate its needs and the commercial realities of exploiting the new processes and technologies under consideration. The threeyear project will undertake a detailed study of six to ten processes under development, investigating their potential impact on food quality and safety, the environment and economy. It will take stock of associated risks, consumer and retailer opinions, and industry needs, and collate a database of its findings. Bringing together researchers, food manufacturers and other specialists, it will encourage cross-fertilisation of ideas among partners, through seminars, expert group meetings, and staff secondments. To hasten adoption of new technologies by industry, the project will conduct technology transfer workshops and create a dedicated website. A layman's guide to research will present detailed case studies.
The overall objective of GRUB's UP is to improve food quality and safety while cutting down the environmental impact of waste, in particular by reducing the need for landfill. By enabling coordination and communication between researchers and industry, the CA opens the way for future R&D into sustainable food production systems.
Food wastes will be recycled into food additives using new washing and fermentation techniques, among others. For example, carrot pomace, citrus waste, and potato peel can be processed into dietary fibre to add nutritional value, vitamins and antioxidants. Natural flavourings can sell for as much as 50 times the price of artificial equivalents, but raw materials are expensive. Using solid-state fermentation, sugar beet pulp can yield vanillin while apple and carrot pomace, olive press cake and spent malt can produce other flavourings, as well as pectin, for use as gelling agents in many food products.
In 2003, EU legislation banned the use of animal protein in feed for meat livestock as part of its effort to stem the spread of bovine spongiform encephalitis, or mad cow disease. The resulting shortage of animal feed could be resolved using micro-organisms to convert agro-food wastes into animal feed high in vegetable protein and vitamin content.
List of Partners
- Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn (Germany)
- Biozoon (Germany)
- AINIA (Spain)
- INETI-Instituto Nacional de Engenharia, Tecnologia e Inovação, IP (Portugal)
- D&F Associates (UK)
- De Ceuster Meststoffen NV (Belgium)
- Universidade Católica Portuguesa - Escola Superior de Biotecnologia (Portugal)
- Fructex (Romania)
- University of Warwick - Horticultural Research International (UK)
- TTZ Bremerhaven (Germany)
- Technology Codes (Ireland)
- INKA - General Consumers' Association of Greece (Greece)
- Agrotechnology and Food Innovations. (The Netherlands)
- Centre for Soil Studies and Applied Biology in Segura (Spain)
- Organic Resource Agency (UK)
- Praktijkonderzoek Plant & Omgeving (The Netherlands)
- S.C. Proplanta (Romania)
- WBI Technology (Ireland)
- Profikomp (Hungary)
- Campden & Chorleywood Food Research Association (UK)
- Cockburn Smithes (Portugal)
- Archaezyme (Israel)
- GRUB'S UP
- Full title:
- Recycling and upgrading wastes from food production for use within the food chain
- Contract n°:
- EC Scientific Officer:
- Hallgeir Herikstad, Hallgeir.Herikstad@ec.europa.eu
- EU contribution:
- € 809,918
- Coordination Action