Conversion of „assumed” Waste into Profits

By Dr. Hans Valerius
September 2004

The Author is Director at Enigma Process Technologies Corp in Muntinlupa, Philippines. His company provides engineered solutions for laundry waste, hospital waste, animal blood, animal waste, palm oil mill waste etc. → See also:

Introduction

Although in any production of food we have been applying standard patterns and systems that are known to everybody the question what to do with the waste or better how to avoid it and how to further treat what is left behind from our production hardly comes up. Naturally we are focused on our daily duties, fulfill production targets, comply with FDA rules and regulations and are busy in maintaining and running the production lines.

Latest information and updating our knowledge is usually done by attending and visiting exhibitions, the basic circle of information is then mostly completed.

Waste treatment in any production is a must partly enforced by government rules and regulations and we are busy again in complying with the requirements and keeping the costs of maintenance low.

What is hardly known is that many types of waste can converted into profits resulting in nearly zero waste, an issue which is feasible and not just wishful thinking.

The options are ample but due to mainly unawareness we are not spending too much time on these issues.

juice and crushed peels
after separation (juice & crushed peels)

Example: Pine Apple Industry

The pallet of opportunities is wide and just to focus on a few issues here the pine apple industry is a good place to start with.

Pine apple peel waste usually taken for animal feed or as basic material for the distilleries offers excellent conditions to extract by means of decanter separation technology with a G force of 2,500 approx 64% juice which contains fibers.

The overall costs bearing in mind 10 years depreciation and average interest rates would result in approx. 0.016 EURO per liter of such juice production.

The juice itself is turbid due to the fibers however accepted by health conscious consumers. If the turbidity is not desired a subsequent simple filtration will solve the "problem". Subject to turnover speed of the juice pasteurization can be installed in the line to overcome the natural fermentation of the recovered juice.

sludge is exposed to air
left photo the required liquid, right photo the solids after separation

In the continuation of the treatment of pine apple peels, the roots obviously a totally neglected part of the fruit can be treated as well and is used by a limited number of companies to produce Bromelein, a product used in the pharmaceutical industry. Again tests with decanter and centrifuge separation technology have given evidence that with the proper technology integrated in a separation/centrifugation system "assumed" waste can be turned into useful products.

Naturally Bromelein is also apparent in the peels of pine apple but a separation in addition to the mentioned juice extract would only be possible if the two liquids would have a different density in case of which a solid-liquid-liquid separation is conducted rather than a liquid-solid separation.

Example: Desiccated Coconut Industry

juice and crushed peels
From left to right: original scum/waste - solids after separation - recovered coconut oil

In the continuation of possible "turn waste into profit" attempts another typical example is the desiccated coconut industry.

From the overall applied process the left over, called coconut scum is disposed.

Various tests however revealed that, and this is to our knowledge a novelty, a separation with decanter/centrifuge technology and application of some additional working steps which cannot be described here, a separation of solids and liquid leads to the recovery of 30 % of coconut oil, so far unknowingly disposed but representing an attractive figure in terms of money.

The solids in addition to that can be integrated into animal feed leading to a total use of the waste for other than disposal purposes and eliminating the burden on the environment. As a matter of fact the coconut water out of the production in this specific industry can easily be converted into refreshing drinks mixed with flavor or even into "coconut champagne" a low alcohol containing drink.

To go into detail on the process itself for the above mentioned examples would by far exceed this page and of course also contains some process knowledge which is not meant to be released into detail.

Example: Mango Industry

Other typical examples are the mango growing countries. Apparently not familiar with the process possibilities in a number of these countries the production of mango juice or dried mango seems to be the only known process.

Neither the removal of the brown spots in the fruit itself nor the processes of producing mango puree are applied. Mango prices depend on the available quantity in the market in other terms if the mangos season due to climatic influences was not according to expectation and cannot cover the overall consumers´ demand prices are naturally going up while the opposite is achieved when the market is flooded with an oversupply. In times of low price level due to good crops the conversion of surplus mangos into puree is not only a step to balance the market price level it also helps the producer to maintain a desired amount of mangos on the shelf in form of mango puree and to release this puree and convert into juice when the consumers´ demand cannot be responded to due to poor crops.

Left behind from the processing of mangos are the seeds which are for sure disposed since there is according to common knowledge no use for the seeds.

Once we succeed in opening a mango seed a hard substance is found inside with a rather bitter taste. Bitter taste mostly has some positive background as we know the good and necessary medicine in its natural taste is bitter but helpful.

For the mango seed the hidden treasure is the seed oil. It is assumed that in an average mango seed 8-15% oil are available which can be used in the cosmetic industry for example in lotions as this is already done with peach seed oil while the process here due to the availability of oil and the size of peach seeds is more troublesome than with the advantage of the big mango seeds.

Processing again involves good separation/centrifugation technology and process knowledge.

Conclusion

We can continue with providing examples of good process technologies and converting "assumed waste" into profits, the pallet is very wide. The replacement of meat in a sausage by 10% by using animal blood, the production of a paste from chicken carcass for the production of suppositories, production of essential oils and medicine from plants, flowers results in an endless list of possibilities to make use of what we usually do not pay much attention to.

For curiosity - how many companies in the tobacco producing industry do treat the tobacco waste and recover solanasol, a substance that is used for pharmaceutical purposes again.

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