The End of Food Waste May Start with a Printer
Food waste is a serious problem in the modern world. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, approximately 1.3 billion tons, or one-third of all food produced, ends up in landfills. With this in mind, companies are getting creative on how to help reduce food waste. In fact, companies fighting food waste raised $125 million in venture capital in the U.S. in 2018, according to a study by ReFED.
3-D Printing Takes on Food Waste
The world of 3-D printing is mainly known for its ability to create rapid prototypes, but it can also be used to make food from what would otherwise be considered waste. This revolutionary idea takes a variety of food materials that are perishable like breads, fruits, and vegetables. The foods get boiled down if necessary and then mixed together to create a paste, which is edible. That paste is then printed into cracker-like portions. This idea was executed by a Dutch student who has since partnered with 3D Food Company, to continue printing new food from leftovers.
Another 3-D printing startup, Genecis, is also reusing food waste to make something sustainable. It is recycling food waste into biodegradable plastics. These products are made by adjusting the bacteria composition to create PHAs, and it can make them for 40 percent less than current commercial production.
Oceanz and Cooperative DOOR are two more companies looking to help minimize food waste. Oceanz is a 3-D printing company while Cooperative DOOR is a representation of vegetable growers in the Netherlands. The two have partnered to see how 3-D printing would work for vegetables, with a goal of zero food waste.
3-D printing seems to be transitioning food waste from a problem to an industry. Other technologies are making this possible as well, some of which deal with keeping certain foods from perishing so soon. If technology can be used to develop solutions that keep foods fresher for longer then it will start to combat the amount that ends up in the trash.
Startups Making Biggest Impression on Food Waste Industry
The problem with promoting changes that will curb food waste is that individuals are the biggest culprits, more so than restaurants, grocery stores, or food services. Changing individual habits is much harder, so businesses will most likely need to be the ones to step up, and most of these are startups that see the potential for eradicating food waste as a booming industry.
Companies are using machine learning and big data to help vendors keep their inventory balanced so that they are not stuck with food that goes bad, as exemplified by startup Afresh Technologies. Another technology recently on the market is the use of a gas-absorbing device for refrigerators that claims to expand the number of days fruits and vegetables are edible, which comes from Bluapple.
Food waste will continue to be a problem, not just in terms of dollars lost but the impact it has on societal sustainability. Technology, which has been the answer to many modern challenges, is reducing food waste; however, citizens must be accountable for their own contribution to the problem and take steps to remedy it.
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