Implementation of the waste hierarchy concept in relation to food processing coproducts and wastes

Figure 1.7 shows a simplified diagram of the production of waste materials from the food processing sector and highlights criteria consistent with the waste hierarchy (Fig. 1.5) that need to be addressed in order to minimize disposal requirements. Prevention of waste requires consideration of the

Food chain


Raw material


Processing activities


End product

Minimization / prevention •Improved process design •Improved systems management

Solid and liquid waste and co-products

Re-use e.g. water


Solid and liquid waste and co-products

Fig. 1.7 Food processing waste in relation to the waste hierarchy.

e.g. water

Fig. 1.7 Food processing waste in relation to the waste hierarchy.

reasons for its production. For example, waste that results from mistakes in process management - e.g. excess substrates, breakdowns, human error - might be addressed by improved systems management. In contrast, waste that is inherent to the process may have to be addressed by improving the design of the process and is likely to require investment in new plant. Some wastes, e.g. water, may be recycled if purified effectively, helping in the development of closed-loop factories. Those co-products that are not suitable for recycling may be exploited via the creation of novel products (see below). This approach may be unattractive since it is likely to involve a high-risk strategy on the part of the food processor (see Fig. 1.4). However, due to the increase in legislative pressures (see above) and consumer demand (see Chapter 2, this volume), this option is becoming increasingly relevant. Some very large co-product streams, e.g. whey from the dairy industry and starch from potato processing, have been successfully exploited for the production of ingredients for the food sector (Waldron et al, 2004). However, this has taken between 10 and 20 years to occur, reflecting the time taken for development of new technologies and new markets.

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