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Scientists at Loughborough explore ways of reducing food waste

Loughborough University is part of a new £0.8 million research project examining how food manufacturing systems can be improved to reduce waste.

The two-year project, which received funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), is a joint collaboration between Loughborough and the universities of York and Nottingham.

It will explore how systems can be improved to better utilise unavoidable food supply chain wastes (UFSCW) as a bio-resource, including reusing the nutritional content within food waste to make products suitable for human consumption.

Food and drink is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK, employing approximately 400,000 people with a turnover of £76 billion.

However, a staggering 9.9 million tonnes of food waste and food by-products are generated per year in the food industry alone, of which 56 per cent is considered unavoidable. 

Food which is lost after harvest and along the distribution and consumption chain has a negative environmental impact, putting pressure on natural resources and ecosystems and causing pollution through food discards.

However, current strategies for dealing with UFSCW are rudimentary and of low value: these include incineration and where possible; animal feed and bedding; compositing; ploughing back in to soil and sometimes landfill.

Professor Shahin Rahimifard is from Loughborough’s School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering and Director of the University’s Centre for Sustainable Manufacturing and Recycling Technologies.  Speaking about the project he said: “This is very exciting research which could see for the first time the creation of new food products for human consumption by upgrading the nutritional content in food waste.  It could have a significant impact on global food security.”

The results from the project will be assessed at an industry level to determine any possible consequences for the entire UK food manufacturing sector.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 17/03

Loughborough University is equipped with a live in-house broadcast unit via the Globelynx network. To arrange an interview with one of our experts please contact the press office on 01509 223491. Bookings can be made online via www.globelynx.com

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, putting it among the best universities in the world, and was named the best in the country for its student experience in the 2016 THE Student Experience Survey. Loughborough was ranked 4th in the Guardian University League Table 2017 and 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2017 and was also named Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017, and University of the Year in the What Uni Student Choice Awards 2015.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

In September 2015 the University opened an additional academic campus in London’s new innovation quarter. Loughborough University London, based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.

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