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Green Chemistry - Waste to Wealth

The 'unusable' byproducts from organic matter can be used for so much more than landfill.

Photo of George Richardson
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Even if we reach a point where 100% of the edible parts of food available are used, there will always be 'waste' byproducts. Stalks, skins, peels and pips are usually discarded into regular waste streams after a meal is finished.

A few years ago, I helped to organise an event at which Prof. James Clark came to speak and was reminded of his talk by this challenge. He is a leading green chemist who heads the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence and helped to found the Orange Peel Exploitation Company (OPEC), saying:

"In Brazil, the world’s largest producer of orange juice, half the orange fruit is left as waste once the juice has been recovered. This corresponds to three million tonnes a year of orange peel that can be used to produce chemicals, materials and fuels."

This is just one great example of the cool science that green chemists carry out, driven by the vision of a 'closed loop' product lifecycle where all the waste is recovered and reused. Increasingly, there are attempts to push industry and governments to pursue green chemistry initiatives. The GCCE Twitter page posts links to many of the latest developments in the field.

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Photo of Bertha Jimenez

Hi George, 
Thanks for your post... I agree 100% that there are many other solutions to organic by-products than the landfill... Actually, your post reminded me of this article http://www.fbp.ichemejournals.com/article/S0960-3085(12)00051-X/abstract.  Also, that is the reason I love the idea of industrial symbiosis, because it helps us to look for big scale solution.. You might find thes post very relevant to your ideas... 
https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/food-waste/research/organic-food-waste-in-brooklyn-part-1-beer
https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/food-waste/research/organic-food-waste-in-brooklyn-part-1
https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/food-waste/research/organic-food-waste-in-brooklyn-part-1-coffee
https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/food-waste/research/this-is-not-waste-the-case-of-beer-spent-grain-bsp

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