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Special Issue "Sustainable Methods for Food Waste Valorization"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Wildlife".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Thomas A. Trabold

Golisano Institute for Sustainability, Rochester Institute of Technology, 111 Lomb Memorial Drive 81-2169, Rochester, NY 14623, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: sustainable food production; food waste-to-energy conversion; sustainable energy systems; fuel cells

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The global food industry continues to be burdened by the problem of food waste, as we attempt to minimize the environmental impacts of feeding an ever-growing population. In fact, it is widely reported that 30 to 40% of food produced is never consumed by humans. Although ongoing technical improvements and consumer education will help reduce the fraction of food that is wasted, it is inevitable that there will still be massive volumes of food materials needing proper disposition at the end-of-life. This Special Issue comprises papers addressing challenges and opportunities in sustainable methods for food waste valorization across the farm-to-fork spectrum; from agriculture through all downstream phases of food processing, distribution and consumption. Topics of interest include methods for food waste valorization through dehydration, composting, waste-to-energy conversion (e.g., anaerobic digestion, fermentation, transesterification, gasification, pyrolysis, hydrothermal liquefaction, etc.), and upcycling to value-added products, such as fertilizer, animal feed and nutritional supplements. Additionally within scope are assessments of embodied water and energy resources in food waste, comparative analysis of sustainable waste disposition methods and incumbent technologies (such as landfilling and wastewater treatment), as well as case studies involving environmental and/or economic evaluation of commercially deployed food waste valorization systems.

Prof. Dr. Thomas A. Trabold
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1700 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • food waste
  • valorization
  • composting
  • anaerobic digestion
  • fermentation
  • pyrolysis
  • gasification

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Anaerobic Digestion of Food Waste with Unconventional Co-Substrates for Stable Biogas Production at High Organic Loading Rates
Sustainability 2019, 11(14), 3875; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11143875
Received: 23 June 2019 / Revised: 9 July 2019 / Accepted: 9 July 2019 / Published: 16 July 2019
PDF Full-text (1794 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Anaerobic digestion (AD) is widely considered a more sustainable food waste management method than conventional technologies, such as landfilling and incineration. To improve economic performance while maintaining AD system stability at commercial scale, food waste is often co-digested with animal manure, but there [...] Read more.
Anaerobic digestion (AD) is widely considered a more sustainable food waste management method than conventional technologies, such as landfilling and incineration. To improve economic performance while maintaining AD system stability at commercial scale, food waste is often co-digested with animal manure, but there is increasing interest in food waste-only digestion. We investigated the stability of anaerobic digestion with mixed cafeteria food waste (CFW) as the main substrate, combined in a semi-continuous mode with acid whey, waste bread, waste energy drinks, and soiled paper napkins as co-substrates. During digestion of CFW without any co-substrates, the maximum specific methane yield (SMY) was 363 mL gVS−1d−1 at organic loading rate (OLR) of 2.8 gVSL−1d−1, and reactor failure occurred at OLR of 3.5 gVSL−1d−1. Co-substrates of acid whey, waste energy drinks, and waste bread resulted in maximum SMY of 455, 453, and 479 mL gVS−1d−1, respectively, and it was possible to achieve stable digestion at OLR as high as 4.4 gVSL−1d−1. These results offer a potential approach to high organic loading rate digestion of food waste without using animal manure. Process optimization for the use of unconventional co-substrates may help enable deployment of anaerobic digesters for food waste management in urban and institutional applications and enable increased diversion of food waste from landfills in heavily populated regions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Methods for Food Waste Valorization)
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Open AccessArticle
Identification and Analysis of Attributes for Industrial Food Waste Management Modelling
Sustainability 2019, 11(8), 2445; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11082445
Received: 15 March 2019 / Revised: 12 April 2019 / Accepted: 20 April 2019 / Published: 25 April 2019
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (12910 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Due to the large quantities of food waste generated by manufacturers and the associated environmental impact of these waste streams, improving food waste management is vital for achieving a more sustainable food system. Management of food waste can be complex and the most [...] Read more.
Due to the large quantities of food waste generated by manufacturers and the associated environmental impact of these waste streams, improving food waste management is vital for achieving a more sustainable food system. Management of food waste can be complex and the most appropriate methods may not always be selected. There are a range of aspects to consider in order to select the most sustainable option to manage food waste, such as the specific type of food waste generated, waste management options available, characteristics of food companies that generate food waste, features of the waste management processors that will manage it, and the sustainability implications of dealing with the food waste. To support food waste management decision making, this paper presents a modelling procedure to assist in identifying what type and range of information is needed to model food waste management systems, allowing the user to follow a systematic methodology to make more informed decisions. This procedure is based on the identification and analysis of qualitative and quantitative attributes necessary to model food waste management and an assessment of their relationships. Specifically, it describes a process to ensure that all relevant attributes are considered during the decision-making process. A case study with a large UK food and drink manufacturer is used to demonstrate the applicability and usefulness of this procedure. In conclusion, the systematic procedure presented in this paper provides a methodology to identify opportunities to improve the sustainability of industrial food waste management. The data obtained can be used to further undertake a life-cycle assessment study and/or to apply existing socio-economic methodologies to thoroughly assess impacts and benefits of food waste management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Methods for Food Waste Valorization)
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Graphical abstract

Open AccessArticle
Such a Shame! A Study on Self-Perception of Household Food Waste
Sustainability 2019, 11(1), 270; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11010270
Received: 2 November 2018 / Revised: 27 December 2018 / Accepted: 31 December 2018 / Published: 8 January 2019
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (1309 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Reducing food waste is globally considered as a key challenge in developing sustainable food systems. Although most food waste is generated at the household level, consumers hardly recognize their responsibility, and the factors underpinning their perception of the quantity of food wasted at [...] Read more.
Reducing food waste is globally considered as a key challenge in developing sustainable food systems. Although most food waste is generated at the household level, consumers hardly recognize their responsibility, and the factors underpinning their perception of the quantity of food wasted at home are still unclear. This paper aims to fill this gap by analyzing the results of a large-scale survey conducted in Italy. The perceived quantity of household food waste was measured through a Likert scale and analyzed by means of a logistic regression against a set of predictors, including food waste motivations, perception of the effects of food waste, and sociodemographic variables. As expected, the perceived quantity of food waste declared by respondents was very low. Among the main determinants, food shopping habits and the level of awareness about the reasons why food is wasted played a key role. In contrast, the perception of the environmental effects of food waste seemed to be less important. Differences among subsamples recruited in different areas of Italy were detected, suggesting that further studies, as well as awareness-raising policies, should also consider context-related variables. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Methods for Food Waste Valorization)
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Open AccessArticle
Pet Food as the Most Concrete Strategy for Using Food Waste as Feedstuff within the European Context: A Feasibility Study
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 2035; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10062035
Received: 10 May 2018 / Revised: 6 June 2018 / Accepted: 13 June 2018 / Published: 15 June 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (698 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Food loss and waste have a negative environmental impact due to the water, land, energy and other natural resources used to produce the wasted food, along with post-consumption disposal costs. Reducing food waste will thus help improve sustainability and decrease the environmental impact [...] Read more.
Food loss and waste have a negative environmental impact due to the water, land, energy and other natural resources used to produce the wasted food, along with post-consumption disposal costs. Reducing food waste will thus help improve sustainability and decrease the environmental impact of the food system. Using food waste for animal feed is of growing importance in terms of the policies targeted at tackling food waste but the current legal framework in the European Union (EU) strongly restricts the possibility of using food waste for this purpose. The aim of this work is to evaluate the feasibility of innovative measures for feed production in the EU and to identify the best strategies to implement them. First, a technical evaluation of a case study is presented, which is a process developed in the United States for urban food waste transformation into animal feed. Second, there is an analysis of the potential application of this process in the European Union within the current legal framework. The results reveal that the feed product derived from food waste is compliant with EU safety requirements and is nutritionally valuable. This work also suggests that the implementation of this kind of process in the European Union has great potential, provided that food surplus is recovered and treated before it turns into waste and that the different types of food surplus identified are used as feed for the right animal type in accordance with European legislation (i.e., livestock, aquarium fish, pets). On these terms, pet food can be the most concrete strategy for using food waste within the European context. In general, the implementation of feed-from-food measures to reduce food waste in Europe is already possible and does not need to wait for further policy interventions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Methods for Food Waste Valorization)
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