A startup is recovering food byproducts and upcycling them into new ingredients in a sustainable process
Spotted: The United Nations estimates that 8-10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food that is either lost or wasted. The production of food also involves huge volumes of water and manpower, which also go to waste every time food is discarded instead of consumed. Startup Packtin hopes to make better use of some of this food waste with its production of circular flours made from unused fruits and vegetables. By 2025, the company claims it will be able to recover 15 million kilogrammes of by-products every year.
Believing the ‘by-products’ of fruit and vegetable waste to actually be useful ‘co-products’, Packtin retains the nutritional benefits of the original fresh food by turning it into nutritious, usable flour. The company manages incoming produce with internal control systems to ensure quality and safety and continues to monitor quality standards at every stage of the process.
First, Packtin recovers unwanted by-products from food companies and, while the raw products are still fresh, dries them at low temperatures to preserve the plants’ vitamins, flavours, and scents. Because of this, Packtin minimises its energy expenditure and retains the nutritional value of its plants, including the fibre content, antioxidants, and active compounds. Once dried, the fibres and bioactive compounds of the flour can be extracted using a patented process that combines green chemistry and mechanical forces.
The whole process is designed to use as little energy as possible. Water and solvents are recovered and reused along the way and Packtin promises to use every part of the co-products to ensure zero waste, assuring that everything generated in their ‘Plant of the Future’ is either sold on the market or used up in production.
The company’s stabilisation and extraction process could potentially be applied to any food product, but Packtin currently uses plants to create their flours, including orange peels, tomato peels, carrots, and pineapples. Depending on the starting co-product, the majority of Packtin’s flours are also naturally gluten-free.
But Packtin’s circular flours only represent the start of their work, with natural extracts, edible coating sprays that extend the shelf-life of foods, and biodegradable packaging now also in production.
Other ingredients innovations recently spotted by Springwise include machine learning that identifies plant-based ingredients, fungal fermentation for natural food colourings, and protein and umami extracted from cabbages.
Written By: Matthew Hempstead