Alternative materials made from food

Spoiled by abundance, we humans have created a worldwide problem of overproduction and unsustainable eating habits. According to a report by the United Nations Environmental Program 1/3rd of the world’s food is wasted or lost while 1/9 of people go to bed hungry every night.

In this deeming crisis, many new-age entrepreneurs are coming up with pioneer designs and manufacturing that incorporates developing building materials by upcycling food residues and wastage. Upcycled food prevents food wastage and allows us to reimagine the cope of new high-quality products in various innovative ways and approaches.

Overproduction of food has resulted in food shortages, global greenhouse gas emissions and food dumping in landfills covering huge acres of land everywhere around the world.

To live sustainably we have to rethink the ways we all do business and create a better world around us. To point in the direction of sustainability and worthwhile living, the construction and architecture industry has initiated various initiatives to cut down on food wastage and overproduction. 

Here are some of the alternate building materials made out of food and food discards:



PLANT-BASED LEATHER ALTERNATIVE

Seafood shells

We all like the concept of incorporating leather in our house and on our sofa sets to couches. Its a sturdy and stylish element that exude luxury, However, this material is a highly unsustainable one with one of the highest scores of carbon emissions in its processing. 

Leather alternatives that give the look and finish of leather are pineapple and seafood shells. A company called Pinatex is making use of the fibers of pineapple leaves and then incorporating them in a bioplastic mix derived from corn, creating a non-woven slur, which is them finished to create a flexible and durable product.

Leather lookalike can also be made from discarded seafood shells that cover approximately eight million tones of seashells waste count on the seashores. Combining them with coffee husk makes a flexible and durable leather material that is repurposed in building materials.



MYCELIUM 

Mycelium made fabric 

Mycelium composites have material building qualities based on their natural fungal growth. It makes for wonderful synthetic construction material. Utilized in the manufacturing process it can replace foams. Timbers and plastics in the making of door cores, insulation, paneling, flooring, cabinetry and other furnishings. The utilization of Mycelium composites with resin extracts, following its curing, can extend their application in flooring, paneling, cabinetry, engineered woods and synthetic foams. Companies are utilizing the fiber threads of this mushroom type to make wonderful architectural pieces and tables and is being implemented on a larger scale.



BAMBOO

Bamboo construction

Bamboo is low weight and durable building material from historic times. Its sustainability is unquestioned, making for one of the fastest-growing plants with versatile and multitude of uses in building and construction. 

Bamboo is majorly utilized in the Housing sector, wherein it can be cut into thin sheets and dried, laminated into sheets and planks- glued and pressed and sols as laminated bamboo floorings, cabinetry, furniture, and even decorations in counties like China and Japan, this practice has been implemented successfully for ages.

Bamboo is also utilized for scaffolding which is the temporary structure used in construction sites, bridges, houses and buildings. 

Bamboo is processed in various ways from squared cross-section bamboo, Arch shaped, Curved and flat shaped bamboo by splitting, shaping and bending. Bamboo has a high strength to weight ratio, similar to timber wood. It has been used in some of the most high profile construction projects and modern fixtures.




RICE HUSK

Rice husk winnowing

Rice husk is used as an alternative to cement in construction and building. Rice husk ash is incorporated instead of cement creating building materials like bricks that have high insulation properties that make it a cheaper and cost-effective alternative to cement which is known to reduce the cost of construction by 25%. It is utilized in developing countries for cost-cutting where rice is majorly produced. The discarded rice is diverted from the manufacturing centers which has many possibilities of turning into a promising and sustainable building material. It can be used as refracted bricks that provide insulation and also make for lightweight construction materials for walls and metal frame buildings. It can be successfully incorporated in lightweight insulating boards and in the steel industry. While it has good insulation it possesses low thermal conductivity, higher melting point, low density and high porosity which helps in the proper solidification of steel and prevents rapid cooling of steel. In the process, it causes low carbon emissions.



MILK PROTEIN

Fabric thread made from casein proteins

 Milk protein is utilized in making soft and silky woven fabrics. thread made from casein protein is utilized in making soft and silky woven fabrics. The lumps in the bad milk are called casein proteins which are formed when the sugar in the milk is turned into acid. The milk can be processed and woven into modern fabric or woven fabric like wool, cotton, viscose and many other fabric choices to make a very soft fabric that could be utilized either in coverings like pillows or wall paintings or utilized into sustainable napkins. A company called qmilk is doing the same and profitably distributing its products in Italy.



COFFEE

Coffee husk

Everything now related to coffee is the Coffee revolution and its popularity among the millennials is ever increasing. Coffee is not only an admired drink but it also is now being successfully used in building and construction activities. People and architects are building houses to fabrics made out of discarded coffee beans in the factories. Coffee husks are stronger and dried ingredients that when incorporated for example with steel frames could make for lighter building substance like bricks, boards and incorporated in various other primary products like coat fibers in garments or fabrics that are sustainable.



FRUIT AND VEGETABLE PEELS

Fruit and vegetable discard

Most food related wastage comes from households when people throw away the vegetable and fruit discards away. Architects with the help of latest technologies have come up to model conventional waste into productive outlets. To reduce food waste by recycling fruit and vegetable scraps into construction.

Through the help of heat pressing of incorporating and combining powdered fruits and vegetables with the mixtures of wood and cement and clay in the processing techniques molding them in higher temperatures. Researches have shown that the materials that were made were stronger and durable than concrete itself.

Some of the examples of such materials by companies include; Pineapple leather by Pinatrex, Banana peel fibers to create carpets and other soft textiles, potato after being dried into chip(s) board by UK based designers, Maize cob boards by Wood K Plus company have created milestone experiments into commercial outputs that are sustainable and eco friendly.


Overall the world is changing, and along with it humans are devising sustainable patterns of surviving which is both cohesive and profitable. Looking towards newer ways of building and constructing is the need of the hour. Sustainability arrives from working together to model conventional techniques into productive outlets. Incorporating sustainable alternate materials made from food is moving towards a similar direction. It cuts costs and the materials that turn out have equal and sometimes more durability and strength. Lightweight, cost-effective food discards into building materials is truly a potential venture to tap into.



 



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