Inventing Tomorrow: Maggots turn food trash into treasure
If food waste were a country, it would be the third highest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China, according to the UN. One startup is using maggots to help tackle the problem. Insectta — which says it is Singapore’s first urban insect farm — breeds millions of black soldier fly larvae, an insect that eats up to four times its body weight in food waste every day. Working in conjunction with Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Insectta’s technology extracts lucrative biomaterials from the larvae, it says. This includes chitosan, which has anti-inflammatory properties. With applications in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and aggrotech, the market for chitosan was valued at $6.8 billion in 2019, and is growing. Insectta is also extracting melanin (an electrical conductor used in bio-electronics) and probiotics for animal feed. A solution that derives value from food waste could see success across Asia, as countries such as Japan and China implement policies to reduce waste.