Living larvae that feed on food surpluses in a container, after which they are processed into a protein-rich supplement for animal feed: this is how Delhaize is combating food waste. At Bakker Belgium in Boom, the supplier of fruit and vegetables, the department store chain presented the pilot project ‘From Waste to Feed’.
The use of larvae is an innovation by the young start-up Wastech. “After three years of preparation, we can finally launch this pilot project,” says Victor Ponselet, one of the four founders. “Thanks to this technique, you can process food surpluses into proteins in a small area and quickly. Due to the short life cycle of the larvae, they can be ‘harvested’ after just ten days to process into a high-quality protein-rich supplement for animal feed, as a replacement for soy. Opportunities are also opening up in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical sectors.”
Due to the high demand for soy, millions of hectares of forest and other natural areas are destroyed every year to make way for new plantations. This project offers an alternative. “In a container like this, which contains 1.5 million larvae at full capacity, the animals provide as much protein as 52,000 square meters or ten football fields of soy plantations. And that in a short time,” explains Delhaize spokesperson Ine Tassignon.
“From Delhaize we see this technology as a real one game changer, which can be used on a large scale to combat food waste and reduce CO2 emissions, mainly from the production of soy as part of animal feed. Never before has this technique been used at a retailer in Belgium.”
“We are starting the pilot project with our strategic partner Bakker Belgium,” says Tessa Deryck, project manager and Waste & Packaging Reduction Manager at Delhaize. “We now first want to investigate how we can optimize the system, including with regard to odor nuisance. In the long term, we want to be able to roll out the system to our distribution centers and for the surpluses of all our stores.”
Currently it is only possible to process fruit and vegetables in this way. “There is no legislation yet for surpluses of animal origin. If there is, the intention is to also process those surpluses in this way,” says Ine Tassignon.
Wastech can count on the financial support for the project from the King Baudouin Foundation, which donated 20,000 euros through Delhaize’s Lions Footprint Fund.