Biological basis of biowastes

Food processing waste is derived from the processing of biological materials and is, in the main, biodegradable. Biowaste is defined in the landfill directive as 'waste capable of undergoing anaerobic or aerobic decomposition such as food and garden waste, and paper and cardboard'. The waste may be derived from plant, animal, fungal and bacterial sources, with the plant and animal origins predominating. A list of key production processes that create waste streams has been identified in the AWARENET handbook (2004; see also Fig. 1.3). A variety of waste streams will be created by the different stages of each process; these have also been described generically (AWARENET, 2004). Biological wastes are highly complex since they have been derived from highly intricate living organisms and can range from whole, unused (rejected) materials through to fractions and mixtures produced by physical, thermal, chemical and biochemical processing of the original raw material. Plant wastes include vegetable and fruit trimmings (comprising whole/partial organs and tissues) and cereal residues such as bran and extracted barley grain through to pulps and residues remaining after oil, starch, sugar and juice extraction. Animal-derived processing wastes include blood, bone and neural tissues along with wastes from dairy processing. In addition, large quantities of wastewater are often produced. More complex mixed wastes are often produced in the production of ready meals which are composed of both animal and plant material. Hence, food processing wastes are heterogeneous in their composition due to the impact of the varied processing activities on the complex raw materials.

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