Food Waste Valorization

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Food waste valorization encompasses a range of technologies and processes that aim to extract valuable components from food waste and transform them into highvalue products. This includes not only traditional methods like composting and anaerobic digestion but also advanced technologies that produce biofuels, biochemicals, biomaterials, and even food ingredients from discarded food.

Impact on climate action

Food Waste Valorization under the theme of Reducing Food Waste significantly impacts climate action by converting food waste into valuable products like biofuels, compost, and animal feed. By reducing methane emissions from landfills and conserving resources, this innovation promotes sustainability and mitigates greenhouse gas emissions, combating climate change.


  • Biorefinery Concept: This concept involves integrating multiple technologies to extract various valuable components from food waste in a cascading manner, maximizing resource utilization and minimizing waste.

  • Extraction and Separation Technologies: Processes like pressing, filtration, centrifugation, and distillation are used to extract specific components from food waste, such as proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and bioactive compounds.

  • Bioconversion Technologies: Biological processes, including anaerobic digestion, fermentation, and insect farming, are employed to convert food waste into biofuels, animal feed, fertilizers, and other valuable products.

  • Chemical Conversion Technologies: Techniques like pyrolysis and hydrothermal liquefaction transform food waste into biooils, biochar, and other valuable chemicals.

  • Upcycling and Repurposing: Innovative approaches are being developed to directly utilize food waste components in existing food products, creating valueadded ingredients and reducing the need for virgin materials.

TRL : Varies depending on the specific technology and product, ranging from 5-9.

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Precision Fermentation: This technology uses genetically engineered microorganisms to produce specific highvalue compounds from food waste, such as enzymes, flavorings, and pharmaceuticals.

  • 3D Printing with Food Waste: Researchers are exploring the use of 3D printing to create food products from processed food waste, offering new possibilities for creating innovative and sustainable food options.

  • Extraction of Bioactive Compounds: Food waste often contains valuable bioactive compounds, such as antioxidants, vitamins, and pigments, which can be extracted and used in food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic applications.

  • BioBased Packaging from Food Waste: Innovative technologies are being developed to create biodegradable and compostable packaging materials from food waste components, closing the loop in the food packaging cycle.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Biorefinery Concept for Food Waste
  • Advanced Extraction Technologies
  • Innovative Separation Processes
  • Anaerobic Digestion for Biofuels
  • Fermentation for High-Value Products
  • Insect Farming for Protein Production
  • Pyrolysis for Bio-Oils
  • Hydrothermal Liquefaction
  • Upcycling Food Waste Components
  • Precision Fermentation Applications
  • 3D Printing Food Products
  • Extracting Bioactive Compounds
  • Bio-Based Packaging Innovations
  • Composting for Soil Enrichment
  • Animal Feed from Food Waste
  • Producing Biochar from Food Waste

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. Wasteless:
    • Technology Enhancement: Wasteless focuses on reducing food waste through dynamic pricing solutions. Their technology utilizes real-time data and algorithms to adjust the price of perishable food items based on factors such as expiration date, inventory levels, and demand. By dynamically pricing products, Wasteless aims to incentivize consumers to purchase items nearing their expiration date, reducing food waste and maximizing profitability for retailers.
    • Uniqueness: Wasteless stands out for its innovative approach to tackling food waste by leveraging technology to implement dynamic pricing strategies. Unlike traditional static pricing methods, Wasteless’ dynamic pricing solution offers retailers the flexibility to adjust prices in real-time, optimizing sales and minimizing waste.
    • End-User Segments: Wasteless caters to retailers in the food industry, including supermarkets, grocery stores, and restaurants, where food waste is a significant challenge. Their technology is particularly beneficial for perishable food items with short shelf lives, such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, and baked goods.
  2. Rubies in the Rubble:
    • Technology Enhancement: Rubies in the Rubble specializes in creating delicious condiments and preserves from surplus or imperfect fruits and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste. Their technology involves innovative recipes and processing techniques to transform surplus produce into high-quality food products, such as chutneys, jams, and sauces.
    • Uniqueness: Rubies in the Rubble stands out for its commitment to sustainability and social impact by repurposing surplus produce into tasty and nutritious food products. Their innovative approach not only reduces food waste but also provides economic opportunities for farmers and contributes to environmental conservation.
    • End-User Segments: Rubies in the Rubble targets environmentally conscious consumers who are interested in sustainable food options. Their products appeal to individuals and households looking for flavorful condiments and preserves made from ethically sourced ingredients.
  3. Fruitleather Rotterdam:
    • Technology Enhancement: Fruitleather Rotterdam specializes in producing sustainable leather alternatives using fruit waste as the primary raw material. Their technology involves processing fruit residues, such as peels and pulp, into a versatile material that can be used to make a variety of leather-like products, including bags, accessories, and upholstery.
    • Uniqueness: Fruitleather Rotterdam offers a unique and eco-friendly solution to the environmental impact of traditional leather production by utilizing fruit waste as a renewable resource. Their innovative approach not only reduces food waste but also minimizes the use of chemicals and water associated with conventional leather manufacturing processes.
    • End-User Segments: Fruitleather Rotterdam targets consumers and businesses seeking sustainable and cruelty-free alternatives to traditional leather products. Their innovative materials appeal to environmentally conscious individuals, fashion designers, and furniture manufacturers looking for ethical and stylish options.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. Wageningen University & Research:
    • Research Focus: Wageningen University & Research is a leader in the field of Food Waste Valorization, focusing on developing sustainable technologies to convert food waste into high-value products, such as biofuels, biochemicals, and functional ingredients.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the application of biorefinery concepts, enzymatic processes, and microbial fermentation techniques to efficiently degrade organic waste and extract valuable compounds. They also explore the use of novel catalysts, membrane technologies, and process intensification strategies to enhance the yield, purity, and marketability of valorized products derived from food waste.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in bioenergy production, biopolymer synthesis, and nutraceutical manufacturing, contributing to the circular economy and sustainable utilization of organic resources. By advancing Food Waste Valorization technologies, Wageningen’s research addresses the environmental challenges associated with food waste disposal while creating economic opportunities for the bio-based industry.
  2. Cornell University:
    • Research Focus: Cornell University conducts pioneering research on Food Waste Valorization, leveraging its expertise in agricultural engineering, food science, and environmental sustainability to develop innovative approaches for valorizing food waste and by-products.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses the development of integrated biorefinery systems, anaerobic digestion processes, and microbial conversion pathways for the conversion of food waste into renewable energy, soil amendments, and value-added products. They also investigate techno-economic analysis, life cycle assessment, and supply chain optimization to evaluate the environmental and economic feasibility of food waste valorization technologies.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in decentralized waste management systems, organic fertilizer production, and circular bioeconomy initiatives, supporting sustainable agriculture, waste reduction, and resource recovery. By developing scalable and cost-effective solutions for Food Waste Valorization, Cornell’s research contributes to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, conserving natural resources, and promoting environmental stewardship.
  3. National University of Singapore (NUS):
    • Research Focus: National University of Singapore is engaged in innovative research on Food Waste Valorization, focusing on developing advanced biotechnological and chemical processes to transform food waste into value-added products with diverse applications.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the exploration of microbial consortia, enzyme engineering, and synthetic biology approaches for the efficient degradation and conversion of food waste constituents into biofuels, platform chemicals, and specialty ingredients. They also investigate the integration of waste-to-energy systems, carbon capture technologies, and resource recovery platforms to create synergies between waste valorization and environmental sustainability.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in bio-based materials, green chemistry, and renewable energy sectors, facilitating the transition towards a circular and resource-efficient economy. By harnessing cutting-edge technologies for Food Waste Valorization, NUS’s research contributes to reducing waste generation, promoting energy independence, and fostering innovation in the bioeconomy landscape.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

  • Waste management companies: Incorporating anaerobic digestion and composting facilities into their operations to process food waste and generate renewable energy, biogas, and fertilizers.

  • Food producers and processors: Utilizing bioconversion technologies to transform their byproducts and waste streams into valuable products like animal feed and bioplastics.

  • Ingredient suppliers: Extracting bioactive compounds from food waste to create highvalue ingredients for food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic applications.