Turning Agro-Waste into Valuable Ingredients
Agricultural waste contains a plethora of resources that could replace synthetic compounds used in the cosmetic and food industries, however, this waste mostly gets discarded without being valorized. This comes with significant environmental costs and profit loss. Valorising these resources could improve sustainability, produce new revenues and provide locally-sourced raw materials to the industry, boosting its resilience to global supply disruptions and price fluctuations.
Gaia Technologies developed a method to extract natural value-added ingredients – e.g. antioxidants – from agro-waste using a natural and fully biodegradable sorbent that can be regenerated several times before finally serving as a soil amendment. The method, which was pilot-tested with olive pomace, the byproduct of olive oil mills, is based on plug-and-play extraction units that are installed to treat waste onsite. The secondary products of this process, water and biomass, can be reused as farming input directly where the waste is produced.
The ETH-spinoff wants to sell their harvested bio-compounds to four main target markets: the cosmetics industry, the food industry, animal feed and the pet food industry. These industries have a growing need to replace synthetic with natural compounds.
Gaia Tech could upcycle up to 450’000 tons/yr of underutilized olive pomace into high-value ingredients for the aforementioned markets, aligning with the UN Sustainable Developmental Goal (SDG) 12 (responsible production and consumption). Treating this methane-emitting residue would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 950’000 tons CO2eq/yr (SDG 13 – climate action).
The team at Gaia Technologies is determined to make better use of the massive food production sidestreams and address their major environmental and economic implications. They are currently raising funds to take the production from lab to pilot scale.