OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Regenerative Food Waste Recovery Hub

Circular Food Ecosystem with Re-Utilizable Food Components Recovered at Food Waste Sorting and Recovery Hub with a Safety Testing Laboratory

Photo of Kyaw Thu Htet

Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Myanmar Innovative Life Sciences (MILS)

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

Website of Legally Registered Entity

www.milsciences.com

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Yangon

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Myanmar

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Part of lower Myanmar consisting of Yangon, Ayeyarwady and Bago Division which covers the total area of approximately 84,817 km²

What country is your selected Place located in?

Myanmar

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

The place is selected because of its importance as the main economic, logistic, agri-food and food production hub of the country. All the stakeholders including the lead applicant live in it and we are very passionate to address and improve the issues. Most importantly, The selected place has the highest number of food producers, processors, retailer outlets and HoReCa establishments which the applicant has to work together with. 

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

The selected place is the most vibrant region in lower Myanmar with agricultural and food production economics. One of the sub region of the selected place, Ayeyarwady division is often referred to as agricultural hub or "Rice Bowl of Asia" with mostly tropical climate. Another sub region, Yangon - soon to be one of the mega city of South East Asia is the main economic and logistic capital of Myanmar with about 7 millions urban population with growing upper middle class coupled with increasing income. Half of the multi-racial people predominant as Burmese and Karen are in living in sub-urban or rural area farming rice, beans and pulses. Rice is the staple food for the people with enormous generosity of donating food for social and religious practices.12 months in Burmese calendar is associated with 12 festivals which are all associated with donating food especially carbohydrate dominant types.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)

84817

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

18800000

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Environmental Challenges: One of the biggest challenges that directly impact the food systems in the selected place and globally is the rise of temperature. Life spans of food products are becoming shorter with accelerated microbial growth which push more food products to become food waste faster. The lack of adequate cold chain logistic infrastructure is also accelerating it. Moreover, the food production patterns became erratic with unpredictable climate changes. The environmental challenges will be more and more serious as it is closer to 2050.

Diet Challenges: Myanmar in which the selected place is located is one of the 24 countries in the world with the highest burden of chronically malnourished children and more than one third of children are suffering from stunting. Approaching 2050 as the population grows, it will be more and more challenging for the people to get access to nutritious food at affordable prices.

Economics Challenges: Infrastructure for food systems are not in place currently due to lack of funding. Food producers and processors are producing their products without proper food safety measures. Because of that, Myanmar is one of the countries with the lowest export and high import figures in the region causing the economic loss from trade deficit. The gaps are likely to be increasing as 2050 approaches.

Cultural Challenges: As the number one most generous country according to World Giving Index published by Charities Aid Foundation, the people of Myanmar, hence the selected Place is giving away food every day. But the big challenge is food safety concerns in crowd donation of food arise from the lack of food safety knowledge and proper facilities. The challenge will continue to exist in the future since giving is the genetic code of Myanmar culture.

Technological Challenges: During the attempt to cut down the food waste with increasing pressures from food security related social responsibilities, the retailers, wholesalers and HoReCa companies are faced with the various challenges of the food safety and food science related technologies. For example: Challenges to determine the edibility of the food wastes, near-expiry or expired products scientifically according to existing food safety regulations. The challenges are very likely to keep growing as we approach 2050.

Policy Challenges: With the current laws and policies of the place, the governing bodies of the place is unable to regulate the food waste both because the policies do not exist yet and because the regulatory as well as enforcement mechanisms are not in place. We believe that commercial incentives are natural drivers to make the actors comply with the food waste practices.  

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

The challenges not only in selected place but also in developed countries with higher food waste at production, processing, retailing and HoReCa stages are expected to be solved by the solution portrayed by the vision.

Solving Environmental Challenges

By sorting the multiple types of food waste coming from different sources and recovering in its centralized recovery mechanisms, the higher volume of food waste due to warmer climate hence increase microbial growth and spoilage will be recovered speedily at the food recovery hub. 

Solving Economics, Policies and Diet Challenges

Significant amount of the output of the food recovery hub will be channeled out as the very price-competitive raw materials hence the local feed producers and food processors will be more competitive against the imported products by means of more efficient production matrixes and margins. Hence, the place as a whole will have better economic conditions.

Food waste will now be seen as a more valuable resources for themselves and for the ecosystem by producer, retailers and handlers therefore even without the waste policies in place, the governing bodies will have an easier life enforcing the food waste practices.

Similarly, food processors will be able to use more nutritional ingredient at affordable prices hence the final food products will be manufactured with higher nutritional values, solving the diet challenges.

Solving Technology and Culture Challenges

The technological challenges that the retailers and processors are facing will be shifted to and solved at the Food Recovery Hub with the help of centralized food safety and quality testing laboratory facility.

The food recovered from any source will go through the food safety measures at the Food Recovery Hub hence the recovered food going to the crowd donation will be safe enough for the public consumption, solving the cultural challenges.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

The Place Now and Then

With approximately about 2500 tons of wastes disposed per day, part of the selected place, Yangon with almost zero food waste control and recovery measures is expected to run out of land for waste disposal in the next 5 years. With the vision, Food Recovery Hub, the place will become a much livable city with improve waste recovery and reuse measures. With the food processing plants running more efficiently with less pollution, the air quality of the place will also be much better than now. Overall the place will be advancing a significant step towards carbon neutrality. 

The People Now and Then

For the people living in the place with the staggering figures of food insecurity and food safety concerns, the solution envisioned in the vision will turn them into a much healthier and food secure population with affordable local food products manufactured with the safely recovered raw materials. Food donation recipients will have a much safer food and food preparations. Food waste sorting which needs manual labour will create more job opportunities for underprivileged people in the region. Many of the country’s 27,500 local food manufacturers located in Yangon will have more thriving and competitive businesses hence creating more job opportunities and higher income for the people.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

The vision is built on the beliefs that;

  • Food waste recovery only make sense if they are sorted out with a system before taking any recovery or repurposing action under one roof. 
  • The recovery process must be done with a cross-utilizable mechanisms (machineries) to bring down the total cost of recovery.
  • A good percentage of the outcome has to have some commercial value to use it back in the food industry or ecosystem.
  • For re-commercialization, food safety testing component is crucial for the output products.


Challenges of Current Food Recovery Models

  • Lacking food safety component
  • Lacking cross-utilizable recovery mechanisms (machineries)
  • Lacking effective commercialization component in coordination with stakeholders
  • Single pathways hence minimizing the creative reuse possibilities (Upcycling and Food Engineering)


Core Values of the Vision

  • Food safety
  • Commercial values of the outputs
  • Innovation of designing new products
  • Community and stakeholder involvement


The Vision

We envisioned the regenerative circular food ecosystem where each actor in the food ecosystem and the community is thriving with safe and secure food, vibrant economics, with food components recovered in the food waste sorting and recovery hub. The output of the hub, the recovered food or food components are repurposed and re-utilized back in each stages of food production ecosystem.

The hub contains a cross-utilizable recovery machineries (such as dryers, cutters, grinder, mixers, packaging line etc) to bring down the cost of recovery. 

Easily recoverable food wastes will be recovered first. More complex food waste will be degraded down to simpler food components and recovered as the raw materials for food or feed production according to the output grade. 

The rest of the food scraps will go to anaerobic digestion such as Bokashi for soil nutrients, biogas and finally to the landfill or incineration. 

The Envisioned Process

Food waste will be collected from different sources of processors, retailer, wholesalers and HoReCa companies in the most carbon-emission efficient way. They will be sorted out at the Recovery Hub based on;

Level 1 Sorting

  • Ease of processing methods
  • Energy currency to recover
  • Current size of carbon-footprint

Based on the sorting, the wastes will be recovered via different recovery mechanisms and the outputs are channeled out into the following 3 main categories.


1. Raw Materials

Recovered food components that can be re-commercialized again will be split into two groups with different grades such as higher grade will go to raw material for food industry category, for example; dried fruits and vegetable pulps for juice and other processors. Lower grade components will go to raw materials for animal feed, for example; egg shell powders for feed applications. Both categories will also go through relevant food safety and quality control laboratory testing at the output stage.

2. Social Donations

Edible foods with shorter life span and stability will give priority to social donation including the meal preparations for the food waste sorting labourers. The recovery of shorter life span edible foods is maximized by going through the stricter food safety testing for the safety of the consumers in the community.

3. Energy Currency

Other wastes not worthy to go through the recovery process will be channeled out to anaerobic digestion for soil nutrients or biogas applications.

All remaining waste will go to the last resorts – landfill or incineration sites.


Community Approach: Food waste sorting often will include manual sorting and will need a decent manual labour. Recovered food preparations with shorter life span will be the meals for the sorting workers hence they can enjoy the safe, nutritious food while working for the hub and the community.

Carbon Footprint Based Sorting: We believe that foods that have high Recovery Value (RV) should not go straight to degrading applications such as Bokashi since it will be a waste of previously spent resources. 

Innovative Food Engineering: Recovered simpler food components can be transformed into more complex end products as well with the help of food testing laboratory.  

Stakeholder Involvement: Retailers and supermarkets who collaborates for food waste will collaborate to sell the sustainable and more price-competitive products on their shelves in a way to help themselves fight the food waste.

WHY is it feasible for us to execute this vision ? 

We, Myanmar Innovative Life Sciences (MILS) is a 7 years old innovation focused company based in Yangon, Myanmar, dedicated to help the food producers including farmers produce safer, higher value products. We are helping primary producers, livestock farmers (chickens and pigs) with our sustainable animal health products (probiotics) manufactured at our FDA-approved production plant in Yangon so they can produce safer and higher value livestock products. 

With the help of Denmark government, we have also set up and been running Myanmar's first private food testing laboratory since December 2018. Today we are serving food producers, retailers, wholesalers and handlers as a centralized food safety and quality control laboratory and are recognized as a leader in food safety. 

The biggest retailer City Mart Holding Limited (CMHL) and international wholesaler METRO Wholesale are our current customers and will willingly collaborate with us during the refinement phase.

Our latest activity, "Food Safety Forum 2019 (Producer's Assembly) attended by 500 stakeholders in food industry including government regulatory bodies, private companies and NGOs is the yearly landmark event in Myanmar food industry. 

Please see more information about us and our network in the attachment section. 

Thank you very much for your time and kind attention. 


How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Website
  • Prize partners
  • Facebook
View more

Attachments (2)

Kyaw Thu Htet TEDx.mp4

TEDx Talk on Food Systems by Kyaw Thu Htet, CEO of MILS, the author of the vision submitted.

Profile_compressed.pdf

Brief Company Profile of MILS

12 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Giok P Chua
Team

Hi Mr CEO Kyaw
Yes..we need economies of scale to make circular bio-economy a reality. We should do JV to better our winning proposals after this Vision
Giok

Photo of Kyaw Thu Htet
Team

Hello Giok P Chua Thanks for the comment. Let's keep in touch.

View all comments