The aim of the team working on the WasteValor project is to provide financial benefits to both the food manufacturer generating the waste and the organisation which can use the natural chemicals extracted from it, as well as minimising the amount of material going to landfill.
Many areas of the food industry generate by-products that are inedible to humans and so are usually consigned to waste; from spent coffee grounds to fruit peel and pulp from the juicing industry.
An increasingly popular solution is ‘valorisation’ deriving value from these waste streams by turning them into resources for other processes.
York’s WasteValor team is developing ways of extracting natural chemicals from food waste, which can be used in other industries. Examples include using the oils extracted from coffee grounds as a sustainable and ethical alternative to palm oil for soap and cosmetic formulations; fruit waste as a potential source of natural antioxidants, flavours and fragrances; and processed starch as a green filter to remove contaminants from waste water.
WasteValor is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund. This enables the York researchers to offer two days of expert scientific consultancy at no cash cost to companies in the Yorkshire, Humberside and North Lincolnshire regions, in two categories: small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) that create or process food waste; and SMEs that could use chemicals extracted from the food waste.
The project also offers longer term research support to help organisations of all sizes develop new products and services based on valorised food waste.
Companies WasteValor has worked with include egg packer Chippindale based in Knaresborough, which had a problem of what to do with egg cartons made from recycled paper or moulded pulp which is difficult to recycle because the material has been recycled many times already.
Another was York Cocoa House, an award winning café, shop and chocolate business.