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Food Recycle engaged the CSIRO Kick-Start team to help turn their recycled food waste into a high-quality feed for aquaculture species such as prawns.

Founded in 2016, Food Recycle are an innovative company focused on building a more sustainable economy. The NSW-based organisation specialises in producing new value-added products from organic food waste. They’ve developed a unique process to recycle commercial food waste into poultry feed, which they've been successfully producing at their large-scale facility since 2019.

In 2020, Food Recycle collaborated with CSIRO Kick-Start to expand their offering into the aquaculture sector.

The challenge

To improve and expand their business, Food Recycle engaged the CSIRO Kick-Start team to help turn their recycled food waste product into a high-quality feed for the aquaculture industry to meet increasing demand, specifically for farmed barramundi and prawns.

Our solution

Food Recycle worked with Dr Ha Truong, CSIRO's Agriculture and Food business researcher to conduct a series of trials at the specialised aquaculture research facility at Bribie Island in Queensland.

The project aimed to assess the nutritional digestibility and quality of the aquaculture feed in the diets of barramundi and prawn, while monitoring the growth and nutritional health of both species.

"Food waste is an overwhelming issue in Australia, but Food Recycle is part of the solution to divert food waste back into food production. The CSIRO Kick-Start program enables scientist to engage with SMEs who have a shared vision in improving the sustainability of food production in Australia. In this case, we validated the use of food waste in aquaculture has benefits for the sustainability of aquaculture production, all while minimising food waste," Dr Truong explained.


The results of this CSIRO Kick-Start project had two key findings. Firstly, the trials confirmed the viability of using a significant amount of food waste to produce commercial aquaculture feed. Secondly, it identified and validated specific food waste streams suitable for producing aquafeed for barramundi and prawns.

This valuable data has empowered Food Recycle, providing a solid foundation for using food waste to produce high-quality aquaculture feed for other species of fish and crustaceans.

Since completing the Kick-Start program, Food Recycle has licensed OzHarvest Ventures under a Technology and Know-How License to establish food waste-to-animal feed production facilities across Australia and New Zealand. The Australian market alone has a demand for around 30 production facilities, capable of producing up to 900,000 tonnes of feed per year. This initiative could prevent up to 1.8 million tonnes of commercial food waste from landfill each year.

Food Recycle International Ltd is in discussion with more than 20 countries for the adoption of their technology and has so far entered into a Technology and Know-How Licensing Agreement with one country for 10 production facilities over seven years at a value of $254 million to Australia.

Norm Boyle, CEO of Food Recycle, expressed his gratitude, saying, "I would like to thank the CSIRO scientists and technicians and the CSIRO Kick-Start program for their incredible, hard work on this project. As a business we know that we can make aquaculture feed, but this research will allow us to maximise the benefits from food waste and produce the best possible aquaculture feed that we can. The outcomes of this Kick-Start project will assist the company greatly in its commercialisation endeavours."

Further information on the prawn feed portion of the Food Recycle CSIRO Kick-Start program can be found below. Here, we hear from Norm Boyle, as well as Dr Ha Truong and other members of the CSIRO Agriculture and Food research team.

[Spoken by Norm Boyle, CEO, Food Recycle Limited] Hi, I'm representing Food Recycle Limited, and I'm here today on beautiful Bribie Island, where the Queensland Government and the CSIRO have an aquaculture research facility.

[Shots of Bribie Island facility and prawns]

Food Recycle Limited has patented technology converting commercial food waste into animal feed.

[Shots of food waste in a production facility and Bribie Island facility]

Today, we will be looking at the CSIRO aquaculture feed trial where we use commercial food waste from such sources as pubs, hotels, restaurants, hospitals, supermarkets and turn it into valuable animal feed, diverting it from landfill.

[Shots of raw food materials being processed into animal feed]

Food Recycle Limited has made a variety of food waste streams for the CSIRO to blend together into a suitable aquaculture feed for prawns and barramundi. With an expected increase in prawn production in Australia, there will also be a higher demand for the aquaculture feed coming from sustainable ingredients such as food waste can fill this demand as an environmentally friendly source of Food Recycle Limited has processed the various food waste streams and the CSIRO has formulated the prawn diet from those waste streams.

[Spoken by Ha Truong, CSIRO Aquaculture Nutritionist]

We're here on Bribie Island at the Queensland Government research facility where CSIRO have aquaculture research operations. This is a great collaboration between CSIRO and Food Recycle Limited.

[Shots of Bribie Island facility, prawn tanks, prawns, and prawn feed]

Tanks are set off in environmentally controlled rooms where treated and heated seawater are pumped into the tanks. juvenile prawns are fed diets with different food waste streams such as hotel, pub restaurant and bakery waste. These are combined in various proportions to make the prawn pellets for the trial.

[Shots of research taking place, with different feeds being selected, prawns being caught and weighed]

This is a controlled trial against a commercial aquaculture feed so that direct comparisons can be made. The feeding trial runs for eight weeks and is near completion. Parameters such as survival, weight gain and feed intake are all recorded.

[Spoken by Timothy Perrin, CSIRO Aquaculture Research Technician]

Once the food waste streams have been processed by Food Recycle, they're analysed for their nutrient values.

[Shots of prawn feed being produced into pellets]

The food waste streams are then blended according to the nutrient values and pelletised to the desired prawn feed here at the CSIRO aquaculture feed mill.

[Spoken by Laura Markham, CSIRO Aquaculture Research Technician]

The pelletised feed is then fed to the juveniles in the programme.

[Shots of prawn growth lab, taking notes, feeding prawns with an automatic feeding system]

In the prawn growth lab, the juvenile prawns are grown to maturity. The prawns are fed a commercial diet as a control into food waste diodes. The automatic feeder is set to provide a specified amount of food each day and waste material is removed daily and tested.

[Spoken by Ha Truong, CSIRO Aquaculture Nutritionist]

In the nutrient digestibility trial, we feed prawns individual food waste streams to understand how the particular food waste stream is digested by the prawns.

[Shots of Ha and Laura working together in the lab, facility equipment, and feeding]

This trial is now underway and will determine the quality of nutrients from waste streams and how well the province can utilise this source samples analysed in a biochemical lab located at the University of Queensland to determine contents such as protein, minerals, and the energy of each of the food waste streams.

[Shots of prawn weighing, analysis on a laptop, and handling of prawns]

The tissue samples from the prawns are also tested. This trial will give us a good understanding of how we can utilise food waste and optimise future diets. Some food waste streams are likely to be more suitable for prawns than others. And future diet formulation and testing will allow us to maximise the use of food waste for aquaculture feeds. As the prawn feed and digestibility trial concludes, we will be performing the same trials at the CSIRO facility for Australian barramundi.

[Spoken by Norm Boyle, CEO, Food Recycle Limited]

Food Recycle Limited would like to thank the CSIRO and the kickstart programme.

[Shots of CSIRO staff working at Bribie Island and prawns]

We'd also like to thank the incredible hard-working scientists and technicians working on this project. We know that we can make aquaculture feed, but this research will allow us to maximise the benefits from food waste by producing the best possible aquaculture feed that we can.

[Video ends.]

Prawn feed from recycled food waste trial

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