Upcycling

REHARVEST – NETZRO’s third “R” of Upcycling

Reuse, Restore, New uses, Innovation, Functional Health With reducing and recovering squared away, we arrive at the third and final R of food upcycling: “reharvest.”  Reharvesting focuses on taking recovered food byproducts and increasing their value by integrating them into new food products.  Examples of this include taking discarded parts of fruit and processing them into innovative juice blends or drying spent grain and converting it into a flour that can be used in bread, crackers, and more. Reharvesting food contributes to a circular food supply chain, taking ingredients that have been recovered and upcycling them.  Upcycling closes the loop by keeping used items out of the waste stream and converting them into products of a higher value.  With food upcycling, this same process takes place while also increasing the number of people who can be fed without increasing resource use. There are many stakeholders who benefit from this process:…
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RECOVER – NETZRO’s Second “R” Of Upcycling

As we covered in the first article of this series, food upcycling is one important way to reduce food waste by making the most of food byproducts that are underutilized because they have traditionally been seen as waste.  How do we accomplish this?  This brings us to our second R of food upcycling: recover.   Food waste is recovered when usable food is diverted out of waste streams and into new raw ingredients.  This can take the shape of organizations that rescue food to feed people in need such as food shelves or startups that salvage food byproducts that are traditionally considered waste - e.g. fruit and vegetable pulp, salvaged “ugly” foods from supermarket waste streams, and our favorite, spent grain - to be used, in some cases, in upcycled food products.  In essence, recovering food takes byproducts or commercially unattractive foods that would otherwise end up in waste streams…
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REDUCE – NETZRO’s First ‘R” of Upcycling

Roughly one third of food produced in the world for human consumption gets lost or wasted. National Geographic is projecting more than 9 billion mouths to feed by 2050, requiring food producers to double the amount of food currently in production. ReFED was formed to build a different future, where food waste prevention is recognized as an untapped strategy that can save resources, create jobs, alleviate hunger, conserve water, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions — all while stimulating a new multi-billion dollar market opportunity. ReFED has identified 27 of the best opportunities to reduce food waste through a detailed economic analysis. The solutions were analyzed using the EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy — which prioritizes prevention first to stop waste from happening in the first place. National Geographic proposes stopping agricultural expansion, increasing yields on preexisting farms, increasing efficiency of resource use, shifting toward more plant-forward diets, and reducing food waste.  These…
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My Semester of Food Upcycling

Since January, I have served as NetZro’s Digital Communications and Brewers’ Spent Grain (BSG) Recipe Development Intern.  Throughout this process, I have worked to incorporate more sustainable food practices into my own life.  Today I’ll be sharing my experience working for NetZro and trying to become a more sustainable consumer, baker, and overall human being! From my BSG recipe tests, I’ve found that people enjoy their food more knowing it’s something they can feel good about.  When you tell someone that the brownie they’re eating was made with spent grain and that eating it helps reduce food waste, they tend to enjoy the experience more.  It also appeals to consumers because most of the sugar is taken out in the brewing process but the protein and fiber remain.  That being said, I don’t use spent grain in my baking just because I believe it’s a good thing to do- although…
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Trash to Treasure

Upcycling ExplainedWhen a product is recycled, it is processed for reuse but most often in a way that downgrades its quality, giving it a new use but as a product of lesser value.  Upcycling solves this problem by reusing products in ways that uphold or improve their quality.For example, recycling could look like a piece of notebook paper becoming toilet paper; while this is superior to sending the notebook paper straight to a landfill, it still ultimately ends up in a waste stream.  On the other hand, upcycling a product maintains its quality to keep it in the “loop” indefinitely; for example, shoe company Sanuk takes old yoga mats and converts them into shoes.A Brief History of UpcyclingThe term “upcycling” was coined in 2002 in “Cradle to Cradle,” a book by William McDonough and Michael Braungart which outlines sustainable design theory.  While upcycling was introduced in “Cradle to Cradle,” the…
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