Turning Food Waste into Useful Waste
By: Angela Li
Every single day around the world, we are throwing away thousands if not millions of food waste such as banana peels and leftover food [EO2] into the trash or compost bins. Well, what if I told you there was a possibility that no food would go to waste?
Well, for the researchers at the University of Tokyo, this dream has become a reality. The duo of researchers claims that their food cement is the first cement to be entirely made from food waste and the strength of their product is nearly quadruple the strength of normal cement. “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.
They also found a variety of food items could be used to make this ‘edible cement’. But what is most surprising about this is how the newly made cement can be turned back into food you can eat. All you have to do is to break it up and boil it, and boom! It turns back into food. Not only is this good for the environment, but it could possibly help tackle the problems of food waste and global warming, two of the biggest problems in the whole world.
In addition to all of that, this alternate cement is biodegradable. This means that this tasty alternative would take up less space in landfills compared to the regular cement.
But the important thing is, how does this thing start with eating and end with spreading the concrete? It turns out that it is simpler than expected. To start, researchers dry the food waste needed for the project. Then they crush the food waste up into a powder. This powder is then pressed into a mould, making a better alternative cement. “The most challenging part was that each type of food waste requires different temperatures and pressure levels,” Sakai said.
The development of this new and improved cement is important. According to the UN Environment Programme’s Food Waste Index, more than 900 million tonnes of food is thrown away every year in the world. That’s a lot of food waste to be dumped in the landfill and forgotten until it releases greenhouse gases.
Whether or not you believe this is the future of sustainability, this duo and their ‘edible cement’ are definitely on track to becoming world-famous.