Transforming Food Waste Into Wonder

Creative techniques that repurpose food waste into a range of valuable products are giving even fruit peels and fish scales a new lease on life.

AsianScientist (Mar. 28, 2022) – With eight billion mouths to feed and another two billion expected by 2050, the world is grappling for ways to meet the nutritional needs of everyone on the planet—and doing so without running resources to the ground. But perhaps the answer to creating a more sustainable ecosystem isn’t to produce more, but to lose less.

About a third of all food produced is lost along the supply chain, with Asia responsible for half of the globe’s food waste. Paradoxically, the region stands as a net importer of food but thousands are still left undernourished. Just over 20 percent of children aged five years old and below show stunted growth, while nearly nine percent experience wasting and are at higher risk of death.

Besides threatening future food security, food waste is a huge culprit behind urban pollution, piling up rapidly in garbage mountains. Many communities are finding themselves with smaller and smaller land space to dispose of their trash. Each person in India, for example, throws away 50 kilograms of food each year, with much of it compounding chemical waste in congested landfills to emit toxic fumes.

To reinvent a food system riddled by losses, researchers and startups across the continent are cooking up novel ways to transform food waste into useful products. Here are five creative twists from Asia that recycle and repurpose food waste, diminishing pollution while delivering value in surprising sectors like biomedicine and manufacturing.

Erinne Ong reports on basic scientific discoveries and impact-oriented applications, ranging from biomedicine to artificial intelligence. She graduated with a degree in Biology from De La Salle University, Philippines.

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