Resource recovery from waste streams in a water-energy-food nexus perspective: Toward more sustainable food processing

Elsevier, Food and Bioproducts Processing, Vol 119, January 2020, Pages 133-147
Authors: 
Isuru A. Udugama, Leander A.H. Petersen, Francesco C. Falco, Helena Junicke, Aleksandar Mitic, Xavier Flores Alsina, Seyed Soheil Mansouri, and Krist V. Gernaey

The recovery of resources from waste streams including food production plants can improve the overall sustainability of such processes from both economic and environmental points of view. This is because resource recovery solutions will be instrumental in overcoming the grand societal challenges in relation to the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) nexus in one of many aspects. Identification, development and implementation of resource recovery solutions in an industrial setting is a challenge that requires careful assessment of environmental impacts, technology readiness level (TRL), economics as well as other implementation aspects. This manuscript will first introduce these multi-disciplinary concepts followed by four case studies that are each at a different level of technological maturity and have a unique economic value proposition. The technologies demonstrated in these case studies directly convert either food waste, waste energy or wastewater into valuable raw materials. Using the case study experience as a basis, a roadmap to commercialisation is discussed where the focus is on understanding industrial needs, the role of industrial symbiosis and the current challenges that must be overcome. To this end, the objective of this manuscript is to go beyond the purely single-faceted technical discussion and provide an insight into the multi-faceted aspects of commercialising resource recovery technology development, which would be a key pillar in realising the future circular economy in line with UN’s sustainable development goals.