Approximately 90% of surplus in food processing are byproducts, most of which get thrown out and contribute to the gigantic worldwide food waste problem. But many of these byproducts — such as peels, pulp, and seeds — are the most nutritious part of fruits and vegetables and are abundant in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These same byproducts and side streams would be valuable for resale if they could be converted into a more suitable form. Traditional food drying technologies have been unable to cost-effectively upcycle side streams, but an innovative new technology from GTF Technologies is now available that can address many of the obstacles to efficient valorization.
GTF’s patented RENU™ Drying & Milling System simultaneously extracts up to 99% of the moisture from raw, fresh, or processed foods and micronizes them into high-quality, nutrient-dense powders in just seconds, solving many of the barriers currently present with traditional methods.
The most significant barrier to recovering food waste is the time and cost of transporting heavy, high-moisture foods before they begin to decompose. Stabilizing them at the food processing facility before transportation is critical. The RENU System is placed on-site to transform food to powder immediately. Resulting powders weigh up to 90% less and have a shelf life of three years or more compared to the same fresh foods, which often have a shelf life of three days or less. If perishable side streams can be safely and cost-effectively converted into powder, food that was once considered “waste” can be transformed into food assets and reintroduced to the supply chain as upcycled food material. This circular process of rescuing food waste and upcycling it into food assets reduces GHG emissions while providing a financial return for food production and processing operations.
Another barrier is the size of traditional drying and milling equipment. At under 1,000 square feet, the RENU Drying & Milling System is compact enough to be placed directly onsite at food processing facilities — or better yet, in-line with food processing equipment – to minimize transportation time and costs. Converting fresh food to powder before it is transported off-site immediately stops the rot, dramatically reduces its weight and volume, mitigates transportation-associated emissions, and eliminates the urgency in its disposition.
Drying and milling food simultaneously is another way the RENU System reduces time, cost, and square footage by combining processes and consolidating redundancies inherent in two separate operations.
The high energy and time requirements of traditional drying equipment, some of which use natural gas and take hours or even days, are additional obstacles to efficient food waste recovery. As fossil fuels are increasingly regulated, finding an energy-efficient alternative is key. The new RENU Drying & Milling System technology is 100% electric and converts food waste into powder in seconds, saving valuable time and fossil fuels, further reducing the carbon footprint. Its high operating speed and moderate processing temperatures ensure excellent nutrient retention and sensory qualities in powder form, including brilliant colors, intense aromas, and true flavors.
Ultimately, food waste reduction won't be fully adopted by food producers and processors until it helps their bottom line. Efficiently converting side streams into valuable, nutrient-dense powders with the RENU System enables companies to create new product opportunities in markets — including food ingredients, upcycled foods, beverages, pet foods, and bioplastics. These companies feel good about meeting their ESG and sustainability goals — and doing so without sacrificing profitability.
Gary Schuler is Founder and President of GTF Technologies (www.gtf-technologies.com). Mr. Schuler is passionate about creating sustainable yet profitable solutions for waste reduction. GTF designed and manufactures the RENU™ Drying & Milling System, a revolutionary technology that is poised to lead the food processing industry in efficient food waste reduction and the generation of nutrient-dense upcycled powders.
The views and opinions expressed in this guest blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of ReFED.