Removing waste from our systems takes us one step closer to a circular economy and sustainable future.

When it comes to manufacturing goods, lessening our environmental impact involves looking at a whole host of issues, but the key concern is waste. Not just reducing the amount of waste we produce, but actually using local waste as a raw material so that, in effect, the whole concept of waste is removed from the equation.

As well as preserving our valuable resources, closing the loop in this way has clear economic benefits, and serves to improve environmental goals by eliminating transport processes and packaging.

We look at 5 new materials made from food waste by those who are leading the way in this area.

1) Hidden Beauty

This new material by UK-based designer Clemence Grouin-Rigaux uses waste from the slaughter industry. According to the Vegan Society, over a billion farmed animals in Britain are killed each year in slaughterhouses, producing a mountain of waste traditionally disposed of on farmland, or through landfill or sewers.

Photo credit: Clemence Grouin-Rigaux

Through a process that involves boiling down animal offal to produce a fine powder, Grouin-Rigaux has created a leather/resin-like material that can be used to make a variety of products, including furniture.

2) Fruitleather

Fruitleather Rotterdam has come up with a material that addresses the problem of food waste, as well as waste from the slaughter industry that produces animal hides for leather.

The process involves collecting discarded fruit from fruit importers in the Netherlands, and mashing, cooking and drying it, before pressing it into sheets, and coating it to create a leather-like appearance.

The final product is vegan and eco-friendly, and is being developed for use in footwear and fashion accessories, as well as interiors.

3) That’s Caffeine

That’s Caffeine is a lightweight composite material made from locally gathered recycled coffee grounds. The company estimates that the UK generates more than half a million tonnes of coffee waste a year, the majority of which is sent to landfill.

Water and heat resistant, and with the look and feel of granite, That’s Caffeine comes in a gloss finish and five colour variations, and is suitable for use in kitchens and bathrooms.

4) Glass Foam

French-American designer Steven Akoun has come up with Glass Foam, a new material that is made from a combination of locally recycled consumer glass and reclaimed eggshells from local bakeries and restaurants.

The result is a product that can be used to make acoustic tiling that has the potential to replace other non-sustainable acoustic solutions such as polyurethane foams.

5) Orange Fiber

Italian company Orange Fiber creates sustainable fabrics from citrus juice by-products that would otherwise be thrown away – according to the company, more than 700,000 tonnes of citrus waste are produced in Italy every year.

The fabrics, which have been used in collections by Salvatore Ferragamo, are formed from a silk-like cellulose yarn that can blend with other materials.

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