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.

From palate to palette

From the bright red of chili peppers to the distinct purple of ube pastries from the Philippines, dazzling hues elevate the experience of food consumption. Besides stimulating our appetite, these colors can be extracted and purified into paint, squeezing out the maximum value gained from food products before they head to the dump site.

Through a process dubbed natural food dyeing, Hong Kong-based startup Dyelicious derives color-producing molecules called pigments from kitchen waste and stirs in additional mordants to prepare vibrant liquid mixtures. These mordants enhance the quality of the dye, sharpening the hues and helping it stick to product surfaces like fabrics. Moreover, the process works just as well even with damaged products that are often discarded in favor of their unblemished counterparts, finding new and elegant uses for ‘ugly’ food.

Dyelicious’ chromatic products decompose naturally, making for a clean and colorful alternative to factory dyes that could seep into waterways. Besides potentially polluting rivers and oceans, some of these industrial wastes may also leak into a community’s sewage systems, posing serious health risks.

In tandem with both food and clothing brands, the startup is helping companies lower their environmental footprint while expanding product lines with radiant new offerings. As combating food waste is everyone’s business, Dyelicious also hosts dyeing workshops at schools and community centers, illustrating how a simple idea can spark a sustainability movement within our own backyards.

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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