From waste to wealth using green chemistry

13 November

Transforming wet perishable food waste streams into high value human consumables

Professor James Clark told audiences ‘Food waste isn’t very sexy’ but instead of viewing it as a problem, waste can become tomorrow’s resource at the University of Melbourne Law Building on Thursday, 12 November 2015. 

In James Clark’s presentation at the veski event supported by GV21 Symposium, Monash University and the University of Melbourne he explained that we are currently using non-renewable, diminishing resources, making more waste than product and using dangerous substances without proper controls. 

With wastage associated with food production and consumption estimated worldwide to range between 20-50% of the biomass grown, and estimations that 28% of the world’s agricultural area is used annually to produce wasted food crops, maximising the usage of biomass associated with producing and consuming food is a priority for a sustainable future.

Sustainable and green chemistry is already providing some solutions for the future with work in the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence at the University of York with Professor James Clark at the forefront.

At the Food Resource Recovery in Urban Environment’s event on Thursday, James Clark said waste can become tomorrow’s resource reducing waste and delivering economic benefits for industry by avoiding landfill tax or charge for consent breach for effluent, generating revenue from a co-product and generating positive PR. 

James Clark’s presentation was followed by a lively panel discussion on "what to do with the leftovers?” with leaders in academia; Associate Professor Antonio Patti from Monash University and Dr Anthony Weatherley from the University of Melbourne, environmental regulator Dr Laura-Lee Innes from EPA, Ms Jenny Pickles from Sustainability Victoria and organics industry expert Mr James Down from SUEZ Recycling & Recovery Australia.

Professor Snow Barlow, former chair of veski emceed the event and led the panel to discuss topics including; the different sources of waste, the hierarchy of priority in waste management, issues of the soil being the receiver of waste, the ultimate environmental impact and how to make food waste as a resource viable for commercial opportunities. 

The event formed part of veski’s sustainable agriculture program which aims to support collaborators across industry and research organisations seeking to stimulate and further develop Australia’s food and agricultural industries with innovative solutions. The program is funded by the veski foundation and the John T Reid Charitable Trusts. 

 Thursday’s event was made possible as part of a broader program which included the GV21 Symposium Collective Opportunities held in Shepparton on Tuesday, 10 November 2015.

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