Comparing End-Use Potential for Industrial Food-Waste Sources



Approximately one quarter of the global edible food supply is wasted. The drivers of food waste can occur at any level between production, harvest, distribution, processing, and the consumer. While the drivers vary globally, the industrialized regions of North America, Europe, and Asia share similar situations; in each of these regions the largest loss of food waste occurs with the consumer, at approximately 51% of total waste generated. As a consequence, handling waste falls on municipal solid waste operations. In the United States, food waste constitutes 15% of the solid waste stream by weight, contributes 3.4 × 107 t of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent emissions, and costs 1.9 billion USD in disposal fees. The levels of carbon, nutrients, and moisture in food waste make bioprocessing into higher value products an attractive method for mitigation. Opportunities include extraction of nutraceuticals and bioactive compounds, or conversion to a variety of volatile acids—including lactic, acetic, and propionic acids—that can be recovered and sold at a profit. The conversion of waste into volatile acids can be paired with bioenergy production, including hydrogen or biogas. This present review compares the potential for upgrading industrial food waste to either specialty products or methane. Higher value uses of industrial food waste could alleviate approximately 1.9 × 108 t of CO2 equivalent emissions. As an example, potato peel could be upgraded to lactic acid via fermentation to recover 5600 million USD per year, or could be converted to methane via anaerobic digestion, resulting in a revenue of 900 million USD per year. The potential value to be recovered is significant, and food-waste valorization will help to close the loop for various food industries.


This is the publishers version of Raymond RedCorn,Samira Fatemi,Abigail S. Engelberth. Comparing End-Use Potential for Industrial Food-Waste Sources[J]. Engineering, 2018, 4(3): 371 -380. DOI:10.1016/j.eng.2018.05.010


Industrial food waste, food-waste valorization, value-added recovery

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