Building with Compost? Researchers Turn Food Scraps into Materials Stronger than Concrete

When you’re not in the mood to compost food scraps, you may be able to use them to make concrete! At least this is what researchers hope to achieve in the near future.

In fact, they’re closer to the end goal. They’ve found a method to use fruit and veggie scraps to produce strong building materials that will stay tasty and edible after the transformation.

Could this new process be a key to reducing the amount of food waste that enters our landfills?-Let’s find out!

Food Scraps can Be Used for Making Concrete

Around 1.3 billion metric tons of food becomes waste on a yearly basis according to data by the UN. This isn’t just costly, but also bad for our environment as growing food consumes a big part of the water and energy of the world.

Moreover, organic scraps decomposing in the landfills release methane emissions that contribute to climate change.

Previously, researchers have proposed making fuels from food waste. This team from the University of Tokyo wanted to come up with a creative method to use fruit and veggie waste.

Their goal was to use seaweed and other food scraps to make materials at least as strong as concrete, explains Yuya Sakai, an industrial scientist from the university. However, they also wanted to discover if they could keep the leftovers’ flavor.

Therefore, they vacuum-dried several scraps, including orange and onion peels, seaweed bits, and leaves from cabbage. Then, they pulverized these materials into powder and mixed them with water and seasonings.

The end result was past pressed in molds at high temperatures. This hot-press method is usually used for construction material production using wood powder.

When Will the Results Be Available to the Public?

The team plans to report their research at the 70th Annual Meeting of the Society of Materials Science in Japan.

These materials turned out to be both durable and edible. When they left them exposed to the air for four months, the materials didn’t lose their appearance or taste and also managed to resist rot and insects.

Interestingly, the Chinese cabbage leaves turned out to be the strongest material, more than three times stronger than concrete.

What Are the Potential Uses of these Materials?

Whether these materials could be effective in construction remains to be seen; however, they’re maybe suitable to use in packaging or toys.

After all, if a child is already chewing them, some flavor and nutrition may well be beneficial.