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Keywords:

  • Biowaste;
  • chemicals;
  • energy;
  • food waste;
  • green chemistry;
  • materials;
  • waste valorization

Abstract

Increasingly tighter regulations regarding organic waste, and the demand for renewable chemicals and fuels, are pushing the manufacturing industry toward higher sustainability to improve cost-effectiveness and meet customers’ demand. Food waste valorization is one of the current research areas that has attracted a great deal of attention over the past few years as a potential alternative to the disposal of a wide range of residues in landfill sites. In particular, the development of environmentally sound and innovative strategies to process such waste is an area of increasing importance in our current society. Landfill, incineration and composting are common, mature technologies for waste disposal. However, they are not satisfactory to treating organic waste due to the generation of toxic methane gas and bad odor, high energy consumption and slow reaction kinetics. In fact, research efforts have also been oriented on novel technologies to decompose organic waste. However, no valuable product is generated from the decomposition process. Instead of disposing and decomposing food waste, recent research has focused on its utilization as energy source (e.g., for bioethanol and biodiesel production). Organic waste is also useful to generate useful organic chemicals via biorefinery or white biotechnology (e.g., succinic acid and/or bio-plastics). This article is aimed to summarize recent development of waste valorization strategies for the sustainable production of chemicals, materials, and fuels through the development of green production strategies. It will also provide key insights into recent legislation on management of waste worldwide as well as two relevant case studies (the transformation of corncob residues into functionalized biomass-derived carbonaceous solid acids and their utilization in the production of biodiesel-like biofuels from waste oils in Philippines, as well as the development of a bakery waste based biorefinery for succinic acid and bioplastic production in Hong Kong) to illustrate the enormous potential of biowaste valorization for a more sustainable society. Future research directions and possible sustainable approaches will also be discussed with their respective proofs of concept.