How to value food by-products: 15 ways to recover them and reduce waste

Today to recover waste from the food supply chain we have several options. In this article we look at 15 cases of valorization that your company can also adopt.

Simone Tabellini per Sfridoo

Simone Tabellini

Green Marketer

Food by-product recovery

In the context of the Circular Economy, one of the crucial issues is the valorization of food waste.

Reducing food waste by identifying innovative ways to recover and reuse food waste is a key step toward more sustainable consumption and production patterns.

In this article, we will explore fifteen concrete ways to valorize one’s food production waste, thus helping to reduce environmental impact and promoting the adoption of circular practices.

Food by-product regulations

Inforgraphics stating: "The reference legislation of animal by-products and derived products is Regulation (EC) No.1069/2009, which establishes conditions and procedures for the handling, control and disposal of animal by-products.

The reference legislation of animal by-products and derived products is Regulation (EC) No.1069/2009.

This regulation establishes conditions and procedures for the treatment, control and disposal of animal by-products, as well as provisions for their safety and for the prevention of potential risks to human and animal health.

On the other hand, food residues for use in animal husbandry as feed material are framed as ex-food products as defined by EU REG.68/2013 and s.m.i. (Part A, general provisions).

Within the scope of the valorization of ex-food products in animal feed, another key regulatory reference is REG. (EC) No. 183/2005, which establishes requirements for feed hygiene.

The transition to a Circular Economy through the reduction of food waste is also supported by the United Nations, which, specifically in Target 12.5, incentivizes circular practices in the food supply chain: “By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.

Types of Food By-products

Food by-products can be classified into several categories, each with its own characteristics and potential for enhancement.

Here are some of the main types of food by-products:

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps, which can be used to make compost or extract active ingredients for the cosmetics industry.
  • Slaughter by-products, which can be processed into protein meal for animal feed or used in the organic fertilizer industry.
  • Dairy by-products, which can be used for the production of dietary supplements, animal feed or additives for the food industry.
  • Grain production by-products, can be used to enrich bread, pasta or animal feed.
  • Fish by-products, which can be processed into protein meals, fish oils or jellies.
  • Bakery and pastry scraps, can be reused in animal feed production or as ingredients for biogas production.

These are just a few of the many types of food by-products that can be recovered and enhanced, thus helping to reduce waste and promoting sustainable management within the food supply chain.

Pulsante: valorizza ora i tuoi scarti aziendali Pulsante: Valorizza ora i tuoi scarti aziendali

Are you looking for ways to valorize your food scraps?

With Sfridoo® seize the residual value of your animal or vegetable waste, reaping economic, fiscal and environmental benefits by partnering with companies in the Sfridoo network.


15 ways to make the most of food waste

As mentioned earlier, the agribusiness supply chain is a strategic market from the perspective of implementing circular models, within current economic systems.

Fortunately, there are already a number of virtuous applications within this context, which if applied correctly can bring great benefits to the companies involved in several respects.

Let’s take a look together at fifteen of these applications in detail, some also explored by the Sfridoo team within their enhancement projects with companies in their network.

Composting and organic fertilizers

Composting is an effective method of turning food waste into organic fertilizer.

By starting a composting system on your farm, you can reduce waste and obtain soil nutrients.

In addition, many communities, such as associations, nonprofits or citizens’ groups, offer food waste collection services for composting at the local level.

Production of animal bedding

Food waste can also be used to make bedding for pets and farm animals.

There are different types of litter such as those made from natural plant fibres through the use of wood shavings, corn stools, rice husks and other materials.

These elements are commonly used in the production of bedding for small animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and birds.

Animal nutrition and pet-food

Food scraps can be used as feed for farm animals or as pet-food.

Specifically for farm animals, dry scraps of pasta, bread, cookies are used.

While in pet-food, many animal by-products such as fish or pork production scraps are also reused.

Biogas production

Biogas production is an innovative method of enhancing the value of food waste.

Through anaerobic digestion, waste is converted into biogas, a renewable energy source.

The natural gas produced, consisting of methane and carbon dioxide, can be used to generate electricity, heating or as vehicle fuel.

Processing into other food products

Some food scraps can be turned into new food products.

One example is citrus peels that can be used to make jam or candied fruit.

Another example is fruit and vegetable scraps can be turned into juices or pickles.

This creative process contributes to reducing waste and providing new options for consumption.

Donation and distribution

One effective way to make the most of food waste, which contributes to the creation of a strong community impact, is to donate to organizations that are dedicated to helping people in need.

Many charitable organizations and food banks accept donations of food that is unused or close to expiration, but still edible.

This practice reduces food waste and supports communities most in need.

Beer production

Some animal by-products, such as scraps from pasta, bread, or other plant-based ingredients can be used in the brewing process to improve stability, clarity, and other characteristics.

The valorization of waste in brewing represents an opportunity to reduce waste and achieve a quality product.

For the textile and construction industry

I sottoprodotti agroalimentari di origine vegetale, come per esempio la buccia di banana, possono essere utilizzati nell’industria tessile ed edilizia per la produzione di tessuti, isolanti termici o materiali da costruzione.

Questo permette di valorizzare i materiali e di ridurre l’utilizzo di risorse vergini.

Agri-food by-products of plant origin, such as banana peel, can be used in the textile and construction industries for the production of textiles, thermal insulation or building materials.

This makes it possible to enhance the value of materials and reduce the use of virgin resources.

Production of cosmetics and personal care products

Animal waste, such as fat and skin, can be used in the production of cosmetics, soaps and personal care products.

Due to their nourishing and moisturizing properties, these wastes can be turned into ingredients for the formulation of beauty and body care products, helping to reduce waste and offering sustainable solutions in the cosmetics industry.

Extraction of nutrients

Gli scarti organici possono essere sottoposti a processi di estrazione per ottenere sostanze nutritive come proteine, aminoacidi e oli che possono essere utilizzati come integratori alimentari o ingredienti per prodotti alimentari.

Questi nutrienti estratti dagli scarti di origine animale possono essere impiegati per arricchire gli alimenti con importanti componenti nutritivi, contribuendo a massimizzare il valore nutrizionale degli scarti e a promuovere uno stile di vita sano.

Organic wastes can undergo extraction processes to obtain nutrients such as proteins, amino acids, and oils that can be used as dietary supplements or ingredients for food products.

These nutrients extracted from animal waste can be used to enrich foods with important nutrient components, helping to maximize the nutritional value of waste and promote a healthy lifestyle.

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Start making the most of your food scraps

By relying on Sfridoo®, as a strategic partner, you introduce eco-innovative solutions within your processes, gaining economic benefits and joining the network of circular companies

Enhance now

Glue and gelatin production

Some animal by-products can be processed into glue and gelatin, which find use in various industries such as paper, textile and pharmaceuticals.

Glue derived from the reuse of animal waste can be used as an adhesive in various manufacturing processes.

While gelatin can be used as a gelling agent in food, pharmaceutical or cosmetic products, providing a sustainable and functional solution for various industries.

Production of bioplastics

Plant-based waste can be used in the production of bioplastics, offering a more sustainable alternative to traditional plastics.

Through extraction and transformation processes, waste can be converted into biodegradable materials that can be used for the production of packaging, disposable products or industrial components.

Manure and fertilizer production

Distinguiamo infatti i fertilizzanti organici, fertilizzanti organo-minerali e i fertilizzanti mineral.

Wastes can be processed into organic manures and fertilizers, which are useful for improving soil fertility in organic farming.

Fertilizers made from animal waste contribute important nutrients to the soil, promoting plant growth naturally, without the use of synthetic chemical fertilizers.

While fertilizers, such as those based on protein from animal waste, bring important nutrients to plants, promoting sustainable cultivation.

In addition, the fertilizers that can be produced differ according to their composition.

In fact, we distinguish organic fertilizers, organo-mineral fertilizers, and mineral fertilizers.

Use in leather and hide production

Animal waste can be used in the tanning industry to produce high-quality hides and skins.

Through processing, waste can be transformed into valuable materials that find use in the fashion, furniture and footwear industries, providing a sustainable solution and maximizing the value of animal resources.

Industrial enzyme production

Some animal by-products can be used for the production of industrial enzymes, within production processes of various sectors such as the food and detergent industries.

Enzymes derived from animal waste can play key roles in improving production processes by aiding the biodegradability of products, the efficiency of chemical reactions, and the optimization of industrial performance.

Advantages and benefits for companies

Infographic stating, "Today to recover waste from the food supply chain we have several options: from composting, to creating fertilizer, to the feed industry and biogas plants"

Recovering and valorizing food by-products offers many benefits:

  • Environmental benefits: preventing food waste from being disposed of through the use of impactful practices, decreased environmental impact, and the possibility of creating new sources of income for companies.
  • Economic benefits: through the optimization of recovery processes, several economic benefits can be obtained both in savings related to the reduction of disposal costs and in earnings, related to the sale of waste.
  • Waste reduction: by valuing food by-products, the amount of waste going to landfill is significantly reduced, helping to preserve the environment and promote sustainability.
  • New business opportunities: by bringing these waste materials to value, new business opportunities are created through the identification of new markets and alternative distribution channels.
  • Improved corporate reputation: recovering food by-products demonstrates the company’s commitment to its stakeholders, improving its image in terms of sustainability and social responsibility.

You can get these and many other benefits by relying on Sfridoo’s platform, through which you will connect with its team of experts and network of Circular Economy companies.

Together with Sfridoo you will understand how to best valorize your food waste, guiding your business toward tangible and sustainable results.

Pulsante: valorizza ora i tuoi scarti aziendali Pulsante: Valorizza ora i tuoi scarti aziendali

Do you want to make your production processes circular?

With Sfridoo® you transform your processes from linear to circular, reaping economic, fiscal and environmental benefits through the principles of the Circular Economy and collaboration with other companies in the network.

Simone Tabellini per Sfridoo

Simone Tabellini

Green Marketer

One of the challenges of the Circular Economy sector, is to be able to clearly and effectively communicate the benefits that this economic model can give companies. By investing in it, we can increase awareness and knowledge in people.

Article updated on 17/11/2023