A circular food system based on the Black Soldier Fly (BSF) transforms the current agricultural system from a commodity-based, linear system to operate in a circular, zero-waste manner. Black soldier fly larvae eat organic waste, instead of it ending up in landfills, and the larvae can be harvested for protein, fat, and chitin. The remaining organic material can be used as a bio-fertilizer and beneficial additive for plant growth. The larvae-sourced protein, in turn, replaces environmentally-costly sources of protein currently used in agricultural production systems (e.g. fish meal for aquaculture, soybean meal for swine, chickens, etc.). The cycle creates valuable resources which return to the farm while preserving environmental integrity.
Why do you think it is circular?
Instead of working like a linear economy, whereby organic material (e.g. food remains, agricultural by-products) has no value and instead costs the municipality/grower, etc. money to remove to a landfill – take-make-waste - and then creates additional environmental costs because of methane release, this organic material is valorized (gains value) by being funnelled
into feed for the BSF larvae. The larvae in turn have value as a source of feed for animals, instead of having to convert additional land (especially forested) into agricultural plots, and in an ideal situation, can replace other protein sources for humans as well. The remaining frass (insect excrements) and undigested organic material contains valuable nutrients for growing crops, thus closing the loop – what was used to feed the BSF then benefits from what remains behind. In summary, this is “nutrient up-cycling”
Which principles are used?
Designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, regenerating natural systems
What are the economic and environmental benefits?
A circular economy using the black soldier fly mimics natural systems of regeneration so that otherwise-un or under-utilized organic streams which would be considered waste feed into the production cycle for food, fertilizer, and other beneficial products. The black soldier fly can decontaminate organic waste so that it is safe to be returned to the environment (as fertilizer and plant growth medium), safe to be consumed (as food or feed), and provide additional valuable products whether antimicrobial peptides, biopolymers, biodiesel, and more. This cycle regenerates living systems such as soil, replaces other resource-intensive products such as soybean and fish meal in animal feeds, and avoids the greenhouse gas emissions associated with landfilling organic waste.
This saves money associated with transporting and landfilling organic waste, importing animal feed (e.g. importing soybean meal from South America to Europe – allows for local production), synthetically producing fertilizers, and longer-term, healthcare costs associated with pollution and global warming stemming from these processes.
Which one of the 5 business models does it belong to?
Resource recovery (primary), product as a service (secondary)
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