New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

The Blue Economy: Food Waste Valorisation

Cristina Vilaplana-Prieto, University of Murcia (Spain)


This teaching project connects to what is now known as the Blue Economy. The Blue Economy goes beyond the globalised economy and the Green Economy. The time has come to shift to a competitive business model that meets everyone's basic needs with what is available locally. The power of the Blue Economy is that it injects money back into the local economy and, contrary to traditional belief, offers high quality products at a lower price. It has been estimated that on a global scale, roughly one-third of food produced is lost or wasted, corresponding to about 1.3 billion tons of food per year (FAO, 2019). Moreover, approximately 3.49 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent of greenhouse gases are generated by lost or wasted food along the supply chain. Wastes from food industry constitute a great loss in nutrients and biomass that could be used as functional foods or as a source for obtaining other bio-products (Esparza et al., 2020). Currently not many food waste valorisation techniques have been implemented on large scale as continuous waste management options. The main reason is cost effectiveness, due to high transportation and storage costs of wastes and overall process viability.

Professor Yoshihito Shirai from the Institute of Life Sciences at the Kyushu Institute of Technology (KIT) in Japan observed how restaurants in Japan discarded vast amounts of food. As the stress on the local landfill increases, and the desire to reduce carbon emissions became more pronounced, Prof. Shirai designed a production unit for poly-lactic acid (PLA) where the base is raw material in the form of starch from food waste.  Students have looked at food waste using data from the Food Loss and Waste Database (United Nations) for different cities around the world. The objectives pursued were: (1) analyze economic estimations involving cost and benefits of PLA production and (2) calculate net social benefits based on the assumption that bioplastic is an alternative to the existing petroleum-based plastic. The concept of Cost-Benefit Analysis was applied as a tool for evaluating a project in order to help public sector to inform their decisions about pursuing bioplastics as the new wave industry replacing fossil-based plastics.





bioplastics, economics, blue economy, food waste



  • Esparza, I., Jimenez-Moreno, N., Bimbela, F., Ancin-Azpilicueta, C., Gandia, L.M., 2020. Fruit and vegetable waste management: conventional and emerging approaches. J Environ. Manag. 265, 110510.
  • FAO, 2019. The State of Food and Agriculture 2019. Moving Forward on Food Loss and Waste Reduction. Rome.
  • Food Loss and Waste Database | FAO | Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
  • Sakai, K., Poudel, P., Shirai, Y. (2012). Total recycle system of food waste for poly-l-lactic acid output. Advances in Applied Biotechnology, IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/32858.




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