Food waste is created at every stage in the production cycle – from farm through distribution and retail to customer. According to the Food Sustainability Index, the UK is joint 11th in the world for addressing the food waste problem. However, £2.5bn is still being lost through food waste in the hospitality sector each year, with 75% of this waste being completely avoidable.
But some companies have been getting inventive with new ways to use the food nobody wants. More products are being created from waste food products that put these ingredients back on the shelves and dinner plates. Many of these are borne from company collaborations; a business with waste by-products and the business wanting to do something about it:
This beer is often the go-to example for ingenious uses for waste food. Toast Ale brew their beer from surplus bread sourced from local delis and bakeries. A massive 24 million slices of bread are wasted each day, so the creators of Toast vowed to do something about it. They have upcycled more than a million slices, and go the extra mile by donating all of their profits to food charities.
Condiments to the Chef
Rubies in the Rubble makes sauces and relishes from food that would have otherwise been wasted due to its shape, size or colour not meeting the standards of sale. Some supermarkets also sell ‘wonky veg’ to combat the waste of perfectly good fruit and veg that aren’t quite as perfect-looking as others.
The waste-conscious and highly acclaimed chef Adam Handling created the London restaurant Bean & Wheat using only by-products and off-cuts from his adjoining restaurant The Frog Hoxton.
There are many scrap-using alternatives to binning, recycling and composting. Before considering any of these, try using food peelings and leftovers to create a new dish as a special on your menu. Zero Waste Chef offers some interesting ideas, such as making marmalade or fried potato skins.
Social Farms & Gardens create green spaces across the UK to help communities grow. Food waste can be composted and help produce new food, whilst getting businesses involved with their local communities.
Researchers at Bradford Royal Infirmary teamed up with researchers in Norway to create a wound stabilising dressing using the natural collagen inside eggshell membranes. Approximately 33 million eggs are consumed in the UK every single day, but 7-8 eggshells contain enough membrane to make one 10cm squared wound dressing.
Prawn Shell Packaging
Scottish Biotech innovators CuanTec take fish waste from processing and fisheries and use the natural biopolymer chitin to create bioplastic. This is an ideal solution for food packaging, as this bioplastic is compostable to reduce the plastic issue, and its antimicrobial properties keep food fresher for longer.
From Rot to Crop
Entomics use rotting food waste to feed and breed fly larvae, which is a high-protein food suitable for many animals, and for making fertiliser and bio-oil. As well as reducing waste food, this could also lower the amount of land required for growing animal feed crops.
Biotechnology company Celbius uses ultrasonic bioprocessing to extract pigments from unwanted organic matter. These pigments can then be used as colourants in new food products and cosmetics such as hair dye. Celbius’s method uses less energy and fewer chemicals than other extraction alternatives.
UK-based Starseeds make clothes from recycled polyester blended with reused coffee grounds. This gives the clothing odour control and draws moisture away from the body, perfect for exercising in.
Fuelling the Nation
For other food waste that can’t be repurposed, anaerobic digestion plants are a good alternative to avoid landfill and additional greenhouse gas emissions. The plants convert food waste into renewable energy by breaking it down into biogas. Willshee’s offer a pickup collection for food waste, transporting it to a local anaerobic digestion facility. Get in touch to arrange a bespoke pickup service for your business.