Researchers at the Univ. of Tokyo are turning food scraps such as cabbage, seaweed, and pumpkin into sustainable, robust, and edible construction materials. They foresee a future where food waste can be converted into building blocks and perhaps even consumed after use.
The technology is a novel take on how to manage global food waste, which amounts to an estimated 1.4 billion tons each year. In Japan, one-third of all produced food ends up as waste, and roughly 40% of this waste is incinerated or landfilled, generating greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. In addition, food incineration produces dioxins — toxic chemical compounds that are environmental pollutants.
Food waste consists of the nonedible parts of foods, such as peels, seeds, and outer leaves of vegetables and fruits. To turn this waste into robust materials, the Tokyo researchers started with materials such as orange, onion, pumpkin, or banana peels; the outer leaves of cabbages; or seaweed. They cut the raw materials into small pieces, then dried them using an oven or vacuum drying...
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