Producers urged to reduce food waste

Foot waste being turned into compost. NZ Herald picture

A SCIENTIST has called on the region’s food producers to think more about reducing their food waste.

At Ina Te Ora ‘Food Futures’ conference in Gisborne this month, Plant and Food Research biomaterial scientist Dr Ben Schon presented on the topic of circular economies in the food industry.

“When it comes to food we should be thinking there is no such thing as waste.”

In a linear economy, an item is produced, it is used by the consumer, then it goes to the tip.

In a circular system the item comes back into the system, with nothing, or very little, going to landfill.

Plant and Food, a Crown research institute, had helped develop a high-value industry based around the skins from hoki fillets, previously discarded as waste.

Each year, the New Zealand seafood industry catches around 120,000 tonnes of hoki, most of which is processed for sale as fillets.

A by-product of the industry is hoki skin, removed in the filleting process.

Collagen extracted from the hoki skin can be electrospun into nanofibres on starch-based discs for use in home ventilation systems.

The unique structure of the collagen nanofibres in the filter traps microbial particles in the air as it passes through the system.

These fibres have also been developed for use in the cosmeceutical industry as a patch that delivers anti-aging and skin repair plant extract formulations into the skin.

The technology also has potential for the medical industry in areas such as tissue regeneration and wound dressings.

Another example was with potato starch from the potato chip industry.

Researchers found 1.4 tonnes a day of potato starch from the potato chip industry was going to waste in New Zealand.

They took the waste product and turned it into compostable plates and cutlery, first known as Potato Pak but now called Earthpac.

Only a small amount of waste remains after the process, which is fed to pigs.

Dr Schon said all companies could be looking at making high value, unique and sustainable products using the circular idea.

A SCIENTIST has called on the region’s food producers to think more about reducing their food waste.

At Ina Te Ora ‘Food Futures’ conference in Gisborne this month, Plant and Food Research biomaterial scientist Dr Ben Schon presented on the topic of circular economies in the food industry.

“When it comes to food we should be thinking there is no such thing as waste.”

In a linear economy, an item is produced, it is used by the consumer, then it goes to the tip.

In a circular system the item comes back into the system, with nothing, or very little, going to landfill.

Plant and Food, a Crown research institute, had helped develop a high-value industry based around the skins from hoki fillets, previously discarded as waste.

Each year, the New Zealand seafood industry catches around 120,000 tonnes of hoki, most of which is processed for sale as fillets.

A by-product of the industry is hoki skin, removed in the filleting process.

Collagen extracted from the hoki skin can be electrospun into nanofibres on starch-based discs for use in home ventilation systems.

The unique structure of the collagen nanofibres in the filter traps microbial particles in the air as it passes through the system.

These fibres have also been developed for use in the cosmeceutical industry as a patch that delivers anti-aging and skin repair plant extract formulations into the skin.

The technology also has potential for the medical industry in areas such as tissue regeneration and wound dressings.

Another example was with potato starch from the potato chip industry.

Researchers found 1.4 tonnes a day of potato starch from the potato chip industry was going to waste in New Zealand.

They took the waste product and turned it into compostable plates and cutlery, first known as Potato Pak but now called Earthpac.

Only a small amount of waste remains after the process, which is fed to pigs.

Dr Schon said all companies could be looking at making high value, unique and sustainable products using the circular idea.

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