Potato waste mashup building a new industry

The Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) comprising four of the largest potato producers in Australia, intends to convert 100% of its potato waste into commercial benefit.

Over the next three years, The Mitolo Group, Zerella Fresh, Thomas Foods International Fresh Produce, The South Australian Potato Company, together with Industry Association, Potatoes South Australia Inc, and The University of Adelaide will invest nearly $1million in this research and development. The goal is to save up to 100,000 tonnes of potatoes currently going to waste every year.

Potatoes South Australia, chief executive Robbie Davis said that this is a powerful opportunity for Australia, particularly South Australia which is the largest potato growing state.

“We are seeing up to 40% of potatoes rejected because they do not meet retail specifications. At the same time Australia is importing 20,000 tonnes of potato starch each year, and it just doesn’t make sense that we’re not using these huge volumes of potatoes for alternative purposes,” she said.

Potato starch industry

According to Davis, a large focus of this project is the potential development of an Australian potato starch industry which would provide additional revenue for Australian potato companies. This could generate potentially $1000 a tonne for extracted starch instead of the current value of $0-10 a tonne for the waste.

“Potato starch is used broadly across the food industry, from bioplastics and packaging, to coatings and adhesives. We also want to use the waste from the waste, so after extracting the potato starch, there will be further opportunities using the residual waste from this first stage,” Davis said.

Professor Vincent Bulone from the University of Adelaide is leading this research project from his analytical centre for complex carbohydrate analysis, Adelaide Glycomics.

The project is in line with the University’s industry engagement priority on agrifood and wine. “There are different forms of starch in potatoes that can be used in different products. For example, existing research suggests that the less digestible starches in potatoes, the so-called ‘resistant starches’, can be used to make superior pre-biotics that help prevent infections,” Bulone said.

“Another known starch component can be used to engineer low GI foods, and the skins of the potatoes themselves contain bioactives that can be used for a range of commercial products like nutraceuticals.”

Early start

Fight Food Waste CRC CEO, Dr Steven Lapidge said that the early start that this project had made in the Fight Food Waste CRC’s journey was notable and he considered that the partnership between all of the potato producers was a great example of what CRCs can achieve.

“We’re looking to develop new products from current waste streams that will deliver additional profit to potato producers through domestic and export sales.

“Through investing in research and development we aim to deliver new high-value commercial opportunities for the participants of this project.




KESAB CEO leaves environment educator after three decades

South Australia will farewell a waste industry and environmental champion when KESAB environmental solutions CEO, John Phillips retires in July after 31 years’ service.

KESAB chair, Ros DeGaris told Inside Waste that the future CEO would continue to grow KESAB’s role as SA’s leading non-government environmental sustainability educator.

She described John’s service to KESAB as exceptional and personal, that brought about massive growth to the organisation in capacity and value to the state and the nation.

“The work ethic of John Phillips has been truly outstanding across three decades of change and challenge that has enabled KESAB to be flexible, proactive and creative in delivering education programs to reach a wider community here and overseas,” she said.

“KESAB now works and delivers education on the global stage due to John’s excellent management skills and personable natural style.

“With a track record like this, it is imperative that a highly suitable, proactive and well-connected successor is secured. The total remuneration package will be dependent upon the skills, knowledge and experience of the preferred applicant who will start sometime in June.”

Speaking last year on the challenges ahead, Phillips said that KESAB believed that environmental sustainability action in response to all that is happening around us will require a hybrid mix of measures.

“These include measurable community behavioural change, continuing to build community resilience and capacity, sometimes with yet to be tried and tested strategies and actions, the likelihood of increased regulation and legislation to strengthen objectives meeting required outcomes and most importantly, a more urgent approach.”

“Outcomes achieved in the past year demonstrate that environmental sustainability education and engagement are increasingly becoming embedded in our everyday lifestyle, recreational and workplace action and behaviour. Such education is fundamental as the world around us transforms and embraces the circular economy”.

KESAB’s role to grow

Meanwhile, DeGaris said the future CEO would continue to grow KESAB’s role as SA’s leading non-government environmental sustainability educator.

“KESAB’s initiatives will focus on capacity building, professional development and training, underpinned by research and waste auditing which in turn, provide a platform to identify new opportunities to target problematic waste streams.

“The combination of our service agreements with Green Industries SA and Adelaide Mount Lofty Ranges NRM and corporate partnerships such as those with Sims Metal Management and SA Water underpin new education materials and resources that allow KESAB to extend the reach and scope of its service,” DeGaris said.

She added that KESAB is increasingly in demand by business and industry to deliver waste and recycling auditing through its trained waste audit specialists to better understand waste streams and opportunities to identify new recycling and implement food waste to resources initiatives.