A project focused on turning food waste into profits is underway at Victoria's Monash Food Innovation Centre.
Researchers from Monash University's School of Chemistry are collaborating with Indian university IITB, the Food Innovation Centre, industry, and farmers to help them transform food waste such as skin, seeds and husks into everyday products.
Monash reports using a holistic approach to 'biomass valorisation' to help industry extract high-value components such as the antioxidants, oils, pectin and protein from food disposal – ranging from mango, pomegranate and pineapple skin through to spent coffee grounds and almond ash.
This also extends to fresh produce that has been disposed of for not meeting the cosmetic standards of supermarkets.
"This biomass valorisation approach, looks at the entire fruit or vegetable – not just the part that is eaten or the juice extracted,” Professor Tony Patti said.
“The skins, seeds, kernels, leaves and off-cuts were previously seen as 'waste', which adds to disposal costs.
“These by-products are not waste, but a potential valuable resource, providing several components identified as having high market value."
Monash is working with Australian growers and businesses to diversify the potential market opportunities, including expansion into the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and pet food industries.
"Using this research, food and agricultural companies can tackle costly waste challenges, improve their environmental footprint and create a sustainable business that takes full advantage of growing demand in domestic and export markets for high quality food products," he said.
The Monash Food Innovation Centre and industry partners will discuss strategies of how food waste can be turned into revenue during the ‘Turning food waste into $$$ Symposium’ tomorrow.