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Converting biowaste, algal biomass and beached seaweed are some of the sustainable new ways scientists from Flinders University have discovered can fill the gap for dietary proteins. 

A new study has found seafood processing by-products (SPBs) and microalgae can act as a promising resource to fill demand gaps for proteins and protein derivatives as the population grows.

Millions of tonnes of sea catches produce bycatch, shells, bones, heads and other parts wasted during the processing of marine and freshwater species.

“These biomaterials are a rich source of proteins with high nutritional quality while protein hydrolysates and biopeptides derived from these marine proteins possess several useful bioactivities for commercial applications in multiple industries,” said Flinders University co-author of the paper Trung Nguyen.

“Efficient use of these marine biomaterials for protein recovery would not only supplement global demand and save natural bioresources but would also successfully address the financial and environmental burdens of biowaste, paving the way for greener production and a circular economy.”  

Around 32 million tonnes of SPBs are produced globally each year, representing “an inexpensive resource for protein recovery while technical advantages in microalgal biomass production would yield secure protein supplies with minimal competition for arable land and freshwater resources”, the study found.

The research team at Flinders University is aiming to create sustainable solutions as well as “a strong business case” for expanding Australia’s marine bioproducts as one that is internationally competitive and attractive to both investors and export-oriented markets. 

The commercial value of these therapeutic protein-based products in 2015 was estimated to be worth around US$174.7 billion and is predicted to reach US$266.6 billion in 2021.

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