Science is doing some great things!
Researchers in Tokyo have discovered a new method to reduce food waste by recycling discarded fruit and vege scraps into robust construction materials.
The materials are reportedly as strong, if not stronger, than concrete.
"Our goal was to use seaweed and common food scraps to construct materials that were at least as strong as concrete," explains Yuya Sakai, the senior author of the study.
"But since we were using edible food waste, we were also interested in determining whether the recycling process impacted the flavor of the original materials."
The researchers borrowed a 'heat pressing' concept that is typically used to make construction materials from wood powder, except they used vacuum-dried, pulverized food scraps, such as seaweed, cabbage leaves, and orange, onion, pumpkin, and banana peels as the constituent powders.
The processing technique involved mixing the food powder with water and seasonings, and then pressing the mixture into a mold at high temperature. The researchers tested the bending strength of the resulting materials and monitored their taste, smell, and appearance.
"With the exception of the specimen derived from pumpkin, all of the materials exceeded our bending strength target," says Kota Machida, a senior collaborator.
"We also found that Chinese cabbage leaves, which produced a material over three times stronger than concrete, could be mixed with the weaker pumpkin-based material to provide effective reinforcement."
Furthermore, the durable products resisted rot, fungi, and insects, and experienced no appreciable changes in appearance or taste after exposure to air for four months.
Could this be the future of our food waste?