A Japanese startup has developed a technology that can turn food waste into edible, biodegradable and high-quality cement.
Founded by Tokyo University researchers Kota Machida and Yuya Sakai, Fabula Inc. aims to reduce food waste by creating a building material that is four times as resistant to bending as typical concrete.
The technology involves turning dried food waste into a powder, which is then heat-pressed into a mold. The scientists’ initial challenges included the varying degrees of temperatures and pressures that the different food items require to solidify each of them correctly, reported the Associated Press.
Having perfected the process, they are now able to create cement out of Chinese cabbage, coffee grounds, orange rinds, squash and pumpkin waste, banana peels, seaweed and onion scraps.
The technology may not only help reduce the use of landfills, but it could also curb global warming in the long run if it replaces a significant portion of cement production. Traditional cement production is responsible for around 8 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.K. think tank Chatham House.
As they are made out of 100 percent biological materials, Fabula’s products are technically more eco-friendly than the newer “bio” or “green” cement alternatives created out of wood ash or coffee grounds.
Aside from being useful in building or road construction, Fabula’s cement can also be used in creating simple objects such as teacups or chairs. According to the founders, Fabula has started working with other firms to produce furniture and household items, but they are also looking into creating edible emergency shelters that can be useful in disaster areas.
“For example, if food cannot be delivered to evacuees, they could eat makeshift beds made out of food cement,” Sakai was quoted by the Associated Press as saying.
The food waste cement can be consumed by breaking it down into smaller pieces and boiling them. This is why the company has tested different flavors, colors, and aromas by incorporating different mixes of materials, including spices.
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Food waste is prevalent in Asia, which accounts for over half of the world’s disposed food.
Japan has been actively working to find ways to cut food loss and waste. In 2019, the Japanese government enforced the Act on Promotion of Food Loss and Waste Reduction, which encourages efforts to reduce food loss and waste.