Updated: Nov 12, 2020
Do you know that every single thing on earth has a purpose, even if its waste?
Today on world food day, it is important to know what exactly happens to food waste, especially seafood crustaceans waste. Food wastage does contribute significantly to the composition of greenhouse gases. The global food system contributes to 19–29% of global GHG emissions (Vermeulen, Campbell, & Ingram, 2012). Meanwhile, food waste from this system contributes to 8% of these emissions. Reducing food waste even by 50% would lead to a net emission reduction of 20 to 30% of the total food-sourced GHG emissions (Bajželj, B., Richards, Allwood, & Smi, 2014).
Food Wastage Background
Currently Singapore generated a total of 763 thousand tonnes of food waste in 2019, close to 30% increase from the food waste generated 10 years ago in Singapore, with only 17% of the waste being recycled (NEA, 2019). This goes to show the increase in food wastage and directly affecting the rise in greenhouse gas emissions as well. It is known that Singapore’s rate of food wastage has been increasing over the years and is not helping the environment. However, how are we planning to combat this challenge Recent technologies and research have shown that shells from lobsters, crabs, mussels (mostly from the Crustacean family) can in then be converted into biodegradable plastic. Taking into consideration that more than 125 thousand metric tons of seafood were imported to Singapore, if half of this amount were to be recycled, Singapore can help save the environment in a large scale as well as help to keep its marine environment pollution free since there will be more scope for biodegradable plastics to be made and used in the market.
In today’s world, there are 2 main problems that are faced by humans and that is food wastage and marine pollution. With natural resources running out or being heavily exploited it is important for us to inculcate the idea of giving back to the society, literally. Therefore, this innovation of reusing seafood waste, that comes from our oceans, into plastics for our use and then discarding it without polluting the marine ecosystem goes along the lines of a circular economy. This is a great process of a circular economy since we are giving a value to what would have been a waste material while also taking single-use plastic out of the food system, it helps protect the food that’s on sale and reducing the waste going to landfill. This innovation with the potential to have a positive impact in both areas is a new type of chitosan-based bioplastic that offers a much greener alternative to those conventional plastic films that cannot be recycled
Process of converting shells into plastic
Shells that are from shellfishes or crustaceans have a certain nutrient that is present in them and that is called chitin and chitosan. Both these nutrients are found in current commercially manufactured plastics, are biodegradable and can be used in possible applications in eco-friendly products. Crustaceans’ hardy shells contain chitin, a material that, along with its derivative chitosan, offers many of plastic’s desirable properties minus its destructive quality as it takes only weeks or months to biodegrade, rather than centuries. The hard part is getting enough pure chitin and chitosan from the shells to make bio-based “plastic” in cost-effective ways.
So, let's make our "food takeaway" for today on World Food Day, be a pledge to help reduce food wastage, look for truly biodegradable forms of food and beverage and join us in our crusade to promote seaweed and seashell plastics!