Circular Solutions for Food Recovery and Recycling

Innovation in this area is teeming currently, especially at UC Davis. The FDA’s food recovery hierarchy stipulates that excess food should first go to feeding hungry people, and if this solution is not available, then using the waste for industry and composting should redirect the food from the landfill. Researchers at UC Davis are developing exciting solutions throughout this chain, from recovering high value nutritional compounds from whey in cheese making to advancing microbial fuel cells that can transform organic wastes into renewable energy.  The current levels of food waste throughout the system demand solutions at every level of the system--this work is vital in adding real value to what has previously been considered waste.


Land Application of Food Processing Waste Streams to Control Agricultural Pests

Biosolarization is a fumigation alternative that controls soil pests through passive solar heating and organic amendment-driven soil microbial activity. This project adapts a variety of fruit, vegetable, and tree nut processing waste streams for use as soil amendments in biosolarization. In addition to inactivating a broad spectrum of agricultural soil pests, biosolarization can help improve soil health and quality through the addition of organic matter and promotion of soil microbiota that enable nutrient cycling. This project seeks to maximize these secondary benefits to further promote grower adoption of biosolarization.

Demonstrating the Potential for On-Site Electricity Generation from Food Waste Using Containerized Anaerobic Digestion Units

The goal of this project is to assess the potential of small-scale AD units as a technology alternative to larger, centralized AD facilities for converting food waste to renewable electricity (as well as heat and fertilizer) from a techno-economic and environmental perspective. The objectives of this Agreement are to install a novel, community-scale AD solution in a peri-urban setting that successfully produces electricity, heat, and fertilizer from food waste collected from local enterprises (within 50 miles). The system performance of the AD technology will be monitored, evaluated and enhanced throughout the duration of the project. Through evaluation, we will estimate the potential economic, environmental, and health benefits associated with the scale out of decentralized AD solutions relative to more centralized infrastructure. Finally, we will broadly raise awareness on the problem of food waste and the potential for small-scale AD systems as a viable option to produce positive benefits from this low-value waste stream.


  • de Moura Bell,  J.M.L.N.,  J. L. Cohen, M. Geissler, D. Barile, C.W. Simmons. (2015).  Agricultural Wastes: Characteristics, Types and Management. 978-1-63482-376-0. Current Utilization of Dairy Industry Co-products. Camille N. Foster (editor in chief).