Special Issue "Recycling and Valorising Waste from the Agri-food Sector for Sustainability"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 January 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Thomas P. Curran
Website
Guest Editor
School of Biosystems and Food Engineering, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Interests: waste management; air quality measurement and modelling
Dr. Sotiris Patsios
Website
Guest Editor
Centre for Research and Technology - Hellas (CERTH), Chemical Process and Energy Resources Institute (CPERI), Laboratory of Natural Resources and Renewable Energies (NRRE),6th km Charilaou-Thermi Rd, P.O. Box 60361, GR57001, Thermi Thessaloniki, Greece
Interests: Water and Wastewater Treatment; Membrane Bioreactor Technology; Agro-Industrial Waste Valorisation; Membrane Processes; Water Reuse
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Agricultural and food wastes, by-products and co-products are produced throughout the entire agri-food sector. Huge amounts of both edible and non-edible portions of agricultural products are currently underutilized or simply wasted. Therefore, sustainability issues and challenges are of primary importance in the agri-food sector. This special issue aims at gathering papers related to sustainable practices and technologies that may find application across the entire agri-food sector, and which can lead to the creation of sustainable value chains in the farming, commodity processing, and food production and distribution sector. Therefore, we believe your research might fit the Special Issue.

Keywords

  • Agri-food waste and by-products valorization
  • Bioenergy
  • Biofertilisers
  • Bio-based products
  • Sustainable agriculture
  • Crop residues recycling
  • Agri-food wastewater reuse
  • Life-cycle assessment
  • Life-cycle costing
  • Circular economy

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
A Novel Nitrogen Removal Technology Pre-Treating Chicken Manure, Prior to Anaerobic Digestion
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7463; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187463 - 10 Sep 2020
Abstract
Chicken manure is an agricultural by-product that is a problematic feedstock for anaerobic digestion due to its high nitrogen content inhibiting methane yields. This research examines a novel pilot-scale method of ammonia stripping, the nitrogen recovery process (NRP) developed by Alchemy Utilities Ltd. [...] Read more.
Chicken manure is an agricultural by-product that is a problematic feedstock for anaerobic digestion due to its high nitrogen content inhibiting methane yields. This research examines a novel pilot-scale method of ammonia stripping, the nitrogen recovery process (NRP) developed by Alchemy Utilities Ltd. The NRP was designed to remove and recover nitrogen from chicken manure and two different operating conditions were examined. Both operating conditions demonstrated successful nitrogen removal and recovery. The biochemical methane potential assays were used to compare the digestibility of the NRP-treated chicken manures to that of a fresh chicken manure control. Overall, the biochemical methane potential assays demonstrated that some NRP-treated chicken manure treatments produced significantly more methane compared to untreated manure, with no inhibition occurring in relation to ammonium. However, some of the NRP-treated chicken manures produced similar or lower methane yields compared to fresh chicken manure. The NRP requires further development to improve the efficiency of the pilot-scale unit for commercial-scale operation and longer-term continuous anaerobic digestion trials are required to determine longer-term methane yield and ammonium inhibition effects. However, these initial results clearly demonstrate the technology’s potential and novel application for decentralised, on-farm nitrogen recovery and subsequent anaerobic digestion of chicken manure. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Recycling Agricultural Wastes and By-products in Organic Farming: Biofertilizer Production, Yield Performance and Carbon Footprint Analysis
Sustainability 2019, 11(14), 3824; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11143824 - 12 Jul 2019
Cited by 10
Abstract
The Circular Economy concept implies the re-design of existing production systems in agriculture, by promoting agricultural waste recycling. In an organic zucchini—lettuce rotation, two different agroecological tools were considered: biofertilizer and presence or absence of green manure (GM+ and GM−). In particular, we [...] Read more.
The Circular Economy concept implies the re-design of existing production systems in agriculture, by promoting agricultural waste recycling. In an organic zucchini—lettuce rotation, two different agroecological tools were considered: biofertilizer and presence or absence of green manure (GM+ and GM−). In particular, we compared: (i) anaerobic digestate from cattle manure, co-composted with vegetable wastes, with the presence of GM (AD GM+); (ii) olive pomace compost, re-composted, with the presence of GM (OWC GM+); (iii) municipal waste compost with GM (MWC GM+); (iv) municipal waste compost without GM (MWC GM−). These materials were tested with a commercial organic fertilizer without GM (COF GM−) as a positive control. The objectives were: (i) assessing the environmental sustainability of biofertilizers through carbon footprint analysis by greenhouse gas—GHG—emissions; (ii) evaluating the agronomic performance on the vegetable rotation, by energy output assessment. The total carbon emissions of biofertilizers production was 63.9 and 67.0 kg of CO2 eq Mg−1 for AD and OWC, respectively. The co-composting and re-composting processes emitted 31.4 and 8.4 kg CO2 per Mg of compost, respectively. In AD the ventilation phase of composting accounted for 37.2% of total emissions. The total CO2 emission values for the two-crop cycles were the highest in COF GM− and the lowest in OWC GM+, due to different fertilizer sources. On the average of the treatments, the input that induced the highest CO2 emission was irrigation (37.9%). The energy output assessment for zucchini and lettuce highlighted similar performance for all the treatments. Our findings demonstrated the validity of the tested processes to recycle agro-industrial wastes, and the potential of agroecological practices (GM) to mitigate GHG emissions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of the Addition of Natural Rice Bran Oil on the Thermal, Mechanical, Morphological and Viscoelastic Properties of Poly(Lactic Acid)
Sustainability 2019, 11(10), 2783; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102783 - 15 May 2019
Abstract
For the first time in this study, the utilization of rice bran oil (RBO) as possible totally eco-friendly plasticizer for poly(lactic acid) (PLA) has been investigated. For comparison, the behavior of soybean oil (SO) has also been analyzed. Both oils are not completely [...] Read more.
For the first time in this study, the utilization of rice bran oil (RBO) as possible totally eco-friendly plasticizer for poly(lactic acid) (PLA) has been investigated. For comparison, the behavior of soybean oil (SO) has also been analyzed. Both oils are not completely miscible with PLA. However, certain compatibility exists between PLA and (i) RBO and (ii) SO, because demixing is not complete. Although not totally miscible, RBO and SO are able to reduce the viscosity of the PLA+RBO and PLA+SO mixtures, which attests that a small amount of RBO or SO can be successfully added to PLA to improve its processability. Additionally, the mechanical properties of the PLA+RBO and PLA+SO mixtures exhibit trends typical of plasticizer-polymer systems. More interestingly, RBO was found to accelerate the growth of PLA α’-crystals at a low crystallization temperature. This feature is appealing, because the α’-phase presents lower elastic modulus and higher permeability to water vapor in comparison to the α-phase, which grows at high temperatures. Thus, this study demonstrates that the addition of RBO to PLA in small percentages is a useful solution for a faster preparation of PLA materials containing mainly the α’-phase. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Heterogeneity in the Chemical Composition of Biofertilizers, Potential Agronomic Use, and Heavy Metal Contents of Different Agro-Industrial Wastes
Sustainability 2019, 11(7), 1995; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11071995 - 03 Apr 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Several agro-industrial, livestock, and food wastes can be recycled to create biofertilizers. This diversity of raw materials can result in nutritional imbalance and an increase in heavy metal content, which could make the final product unfeasible. Thus, the chemical characterization of the raw [...] Read more.
Several agro-industrial, livestock, and food wastes can be recycled to create biofertilizers. This diversity of raw materials can result in nutritional imbalance and an increase in heavy metal content, which could make the final product unfeasible. Thus, the chemical characterization of the raw materials and their influence on the sustainable and safe production of biofertilizers need to be better understood. In this context, the objective of the present study was to evaluate the chemical characteristics of agro-industrial residues used in the manufacture of an aerobic liquid biofertilizer. We analyzed the macronutrient, micronutrient, and trace metal contents of seven waste products used as raw materials to create a biofertilizer. In addition, a survey of secondary biofertilizer data from different residues was carried out that showed great heterogeneity in the chemical compositions of these residues, which has a direct impact on the agronomic efficiency of these biofertilizers. The characterization revealed that some materials may be contaminants of the soil, due to high levels of trace metals, especially cadmium. We conclude that the generation of detailed inventories, such as those of the nutrient and heavy metal contents of the raw materials and biofertilizers produced, is indispensable for the correct recommendation of biologically-based inputs in agriculture. Full article

Review

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Open AccessReview
Sustainable Animal Feed Protein through the Cultivation of YARROWIA Lipolytica on Agro-Industrial Wastes and by-Products
Sustainability 2020, 12(4), 1398; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12041398 - 14 Feb 2020
Abstract
Proteins are essential constituents of animal feeds, which comprise mainly vegetable protein (e.g., soybean meal), which is produced and transported globally. The decoupling of protein-production and livestock-growth areas results in protein deficiencies in certain parts of the world, and in significant environmental stress. [...] Read more.
Proteins are essential constituents of animal feeds, which comprise mainly vegetable protein (e.g., soybean meal), which is produced and transported globally. The decoupling of protein-production and livestock-growth areas results in protein deficiencies in certain parts of the world, and in significant environmental stress. Alternative, more sustainable protein feeds are necessary to meet the increasing needs, and to decrease the environmental footprint of animal products. Yeast Single Cell Proteins (SCP), produced locally using various agro-industrial by-product streams, have significant potential as alternative animal feed protein. Particularly, Yarrowia lipolytica, an oleaginous, non-pathogenic microorganism has been characterized as a “workhorse” in biotechnological studies, drawing the attention of many researchers. The present review summarizes available resources on critical issues concerning the applicability and commercialization of Yarrowia lipolytica as an environment-friendly protein source for animal feed. It discusses the sustainability of the yeast SCP production process, it presents the recent advances concerning Yarrowia lipolytica cultivation on low-cost agro-industrial by-products, and it stresses the effects on the health and welfare of productive animals due to the inclusion of Yarrowia lipolytica in their diet. The data presented in this study should facilitate relative research advancement and the commercialization of Yarrowia lipolytica’s use as an alternative protein source/supplement for animal feeds. Full article
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