Food waste to proteins & feed - a field bubbling with startups - Insights
In the last few months, I have come across a number of startups and businesses working on converting food waste into something more valuable than biogas or fertilizers.
As you might be aware, India generates millions of tons of food waste a year - an irony for a country in which tens of millions go without food everyday, but that's reality.
Leaving the societal perspective, from an environmental angle, such food waste can be the source of methane if not managed properly, and methane is a far more deadly greenhouse gas than CO2 (about 25 times more deadly).
The traditional way of sustainable disposal of food waste has been to compost it (to fertilizer) or convert it to biogas (which can be used as a fuel). While pretty OK ideas, these still do not perhaps utilize the full value of food waste - which is in their nutritional content (and that is why it is called food!).
Is it possible then to convert the food waste back into food - if not for humans, for animals and poultry?
It indeed is. There are multiple pathways, but one interesting avenue is to have insects feed on food waste and then use these insects as animal feed. You see, nature has already provided us with a wonderful biorefinery that can convert waste into proteins - insects. Why not use this process?
Internationally, companies such as Ynsect are quite famous for using the waste->insect->protein pathway. In India, startups such as Loopworm are pioneering this.