Do you seek untapped opportunities or ways to turn food waste into a profitable business? If YES, here are 50 best food waste recycling business ideas. As much as 40 percent of the food produced in the United States are not consumed, according to a report from the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Much of it ends up in landfills as waste. Putting this together, it could be said that Americans throw out more than $165 billion worth of food each year.
Table of Content
- Why Turn Food Waste into Wealth?
- Start a commercial worm farm
- 2. Start a organic fertilizer company
- 3. Manufacture and sell food waste recycling machines
- Start a gleaning business
- 5. Start a food Waste Management Blog
- Develop an app that lets people know when restaurants have leftover food
- 7. Start a Bio-Fuel Production Business
- 8. Start a food waste collection centre
- 9. Start a food bank
- 10. Invent a product that extends vegetable shelf life
- 11. Prepare and sell meals from unsold supermarket produce
- 12. Recycle food waste to animal feed
- 13. Start an electricity company that runs on food waste
- 14. Start a meal program/soup kitchen
- 15. Organize flash sales
- 16. Start a service that brings farmers and retailers together
- 17. Use surplus fruits and vegetables to make unusual juices
- 18. Create an app that allows people donate food
- 19. Start a larva feed business
- 20. Start a worm to fertilizer farm
- 21. Turn food waste into plastic bottles
- 22. Turn Banana flakes into baby food
- 23. Make cooking fuel from food waste
- 24. Start a tomato paste factory
- 25. Make nutrition bars from spent grain
- 26. Make beer from discarded bread
- 27. Make cookies from carrot peels
- 28. Turn fruit peels into supplements
- 29. Start a bakery that runs on leftovers
- 30. Create an app that shows users supermarkets with about to expire products
- 31. Make banana flour that is Gluten-free, wheat-free and has low GI
- 32. Turn food waste into compost
- 33. Turn food waste to industrial fuel
- 34. Start a rendering company
- 35. Start a food waste awareness programme/NGO
- 36. Start a research institute
- 37. Start a mushroom farm that uses coffee grounds
- 38. Start a business that helps restaurants reduce food waste
- 39. Start a Grocery Store that sells imperfect produce
- 40. Start a bakery that uses spent grain
- 41. Start an animal feed factory that uses spent grain
- 42. Start an organic food waste collection business
- 43. Start a company that produces jam from damaged fruits
- 44. Start an anaerobic digestion plant
- Start a disposable food waste bag manufacturing business
- Start a Residential Garbage Collection Business
- 47. Produce coffee oil to fuel cars
- 48. Hold food waste parties
Why Turn Food Waste into Wealth?
Not only are financial resources lost when food is wasted, it has long been discovered that food waste generates about 8 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. By curbing the needless loss of precious natural and nutritional resources in food, we will also reduce the amount of harmful gases that get released into the atmosphere.
It has been noted that a significant proportion of food waste comes from food items in good conditions that were not used before their expiry dates, and as health codes require that expired food items be discarded, such unconsumed food items are sometimes sent to landfill sites.
The astronomical waste that is encountered in the food sector has given rise to a whole new slew of businesses. Because this sector is still emerging, there is a lot of room for entrepreneurs to develop new ideas that can help them profit from this sector.
But while you are still trying to think up new ideas of your own, here are some business ideas that can help you profit from the wastages of people.
50 Best Food Waste Recycling Business ideas & Opportunities
Commercial worm farms are known to process large amounts of organic waste. These farms are ideal solutions for schools and universities, restaurants and cafes, green grocers and supermarkets. It is general knowledge that worms feed on food waste, so this is one way to put leftover foods, fruits and vegetables to good use.
Processing waste with a worm farm is simple, effective and requires only a small amount of time to maintain a healthy system. The worm when they are full grown can then be sold to livestock farmers for profit.
One thing that generally comes out of food waste is manure, and you can take advantage of this to start a company that transform food waste into commercial fertilizer. There are various ways this can be done to yield very soil effective fertilizers. This is indeed an organic fertilizer since you won’t be utilizing any chemicals in the process. You can source for food wastes from restaurants, fast-food, schools etc.
3. Manufacture and sell food waste recycling machines
With a lot of American families being wary of what they throw away so as not to contribute to the growing global climatic problem, they are now seeking for ways to recycle their food wastes. You can set up a company that manufactures machines that turns food waste into homemade fertilizer in a very simple way. These products would see a big sell among people that are conscious about their environment, and also those who own gardens.
Start a gleaning business
Gleaning is the act of collecting excess fresh foods from farms, gardens and farmers markets. You can start a gleaning business where you target leftovers in farms so as to reduce food wastages in farms. After you gather your produce, you need to have where you would distribute them, so you need to get all these researched and ready before you start the business. You can comfortably start this business if you live in a farming community.
5. Start a food Waste Management Blog
With so much going on in the food waste management industry, starting a waste management blog to cover the latest news, trends, business ideas, and more in the sector is another Waste Management Business idea to venture into. You can especially focus on new ideas and inventions that enable people make good use of their food waste.
In a bid to stop restaurants from throwing away already prepared meals that were not sold, you can develop an app that aims to connect restaurants with consumers. When using the app, the restaurants are made to log when they have left over food at the end of a sales day. They can also log the type and quantity of food they have left. The system then automatically informs a network of volunteers about the food allowing them to mobilize, collect and distribute it to those in need.
7. Start a Bio-Fuel Production Business
Bio-fuel is an oil commodity that is made from waste products. Just like kerosene, petrol, or diesel, it can be used to power large machinery. Its ease of production and widespread use makes it a valuable alternative source of fuel in many parts of the world. You can contact large restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, farmers etc. where you know are likely to waste food on a regular basis, and strike a deal to get the waste off their hands.
8. Start a food waste collection centre
Waste collection centers are popular in many parts of the world. Here, you get to open up a center where consumers can go to submit their waste products for a small fee as payment. These wastes are then further resold to companies who need them to produce things like bio-fuel or to feed worms or animals or to they are taken to city dumps.
A food bank is a non-profit, charitable organization that distributes food to those who have difficulty purchasing enough food to avoid hunger. Instead of sending the waste to landfill, an environmentally friendly way of dealing with food items that are in a good condition is to donate them to food banks or charities prior to their expiry dates.
Food banks are usually started as nonprofit organizations. Here, you get to contact Supermarket and food vendors telling them that you are available to receive unsold foods from them. After collection, these foods are typically sold very cheap to consumers, and sometimes they are given away.
A huge amount of food is wasted every day because the foods tend to go bad even before they are eaten. Because of this, supermarkets and even consumers throw away loads of food every day. Inventing a product that could significantly extend shelf life of fruits and vegetables would go a long way to reduce food wastage and would earn you a lot of money if you get to sell the patent.
11. Prepare and sell meals from unsold supermarket produce
It is a sad fact that tons of food get thrown out on a daily basis while a lot of people still go hungry. To help to ameliorate this trend, you can start up like a budget restaurant where you get to prepare and sell meals from groceries that are about to be thrown away at supermarkets and food services.
You can contact staff at these supermarkets and food services to help you recover groceries that haven’t been consumed, but note that you need to first of all get permission from the appropriate authority. If you cannot cook the meals yourself, you can employ a trained chef to prepare healthy and nutritious meals from the produce. This food is then sold at very discount prices that less privileged families can afford.
12. Recycle food waste to animal feed
Producing animal feed is one profitable way to take advantage of food waste. You can start food waste recycling business that helps companies reduce waste-disposal costs by taking the leftover food off their hands. You can recycle fruits, vegetables, dairy, deli and bakery foods for conversion to animal feeds, which you then sell to livestock farmers. For a small farm that rears maybe pigs, you can collect the leftover foods and vegetables and feed them to your pigs.
13. Start an electricity company that runs on food waste
It is indeed possible to generate electricity from food waste. This method of food waste recycling is indeed tried and trusted. Here, a biological process known as anaerobic digestion is used to digest the food to produce electricity. Indeed anaerobic digesters exist, but they are mostly used to compost sewage and manure. Electricity produced from this medium, depending on the capacity is capable of powering an entire community.
14. Start a meal program/soup kitchen
A soup kitchen, meal center, or food kitchen is a place where food is offered to the hungry usually for free or sometimes at below market price. Soup kitchens have been collecting unwanted food from farms and businesses since the 1980s.
Frequently located in lower-income neighborhoods, soup kitchens are often staffed by volunteer organizations such as churches or community groups. Food items used in soup kitchens are usually sourced from unsold items at supermarkets and restaurant. This is also a way to reduce food wastage and also make a little income from it.
15. Organize flash sales
In order to prevent food stuffs from rotting on supermarket shelves because there are no one to pick them up, you can start organizing flash sales for these produce. You get to make contact with supermarkets, and if they have a huge quantity of fruits, vegetables, meats, you name it, that would exceed its shelf life very soon, then you have to devise ways to sell off these products quickly so as to make a tidy cut for yourself.
You can declare a flash sale and notify consumers through text messages and emails. You can slash the price of the produce by 40 or 50 percent as the case maybe. The goal here is to get the produce that would have been otherwise wasted off the shelf, while bringing in some income to the supermarket. Do this for a few companies and you will be walking away with a tidy sum at the end of the month.
16. Start a service that brings farmers and retailers together
As a way to stop food from going bad after they have been harvested, you can set up a program or service that brings farmers and retailers together fast enough so that the products can be sold off on time. This can be in form of an app or a network program that connects farmers with the nearest retailers. You get to be the middleman here, and when the transaction has been successfully completed, you get your cut.
17. Use surplus fruits and vegetables to make unusual juices
Instead of allowing fruits and vegetables go to waste, you could get them together and whip up some unusual juices, pastes and purees. This is one way to make use of discarded fruits and vegetables whilst also making an income for yourself.
You could source your raw materials mainly from farmers. You can request them to sell you fruits and vegetables that did not make it to supermarket shelves at much reduced cost. You equally need to employ good marketing strategies for you to sell of your unusual juices, pastes and purees.
18. Create an app that allows people donate food
If you are an app developer, you can still make money from food waste. You can develop an app that allows food companies to donate surplus food to nearby charities and organic waste to composters, farmers and biogas generators.
The app can also be used to support food recovery programs bringing food from stores, restaurants or other food establishments to local charities. If your app is properly marketed, you would get enough downloads to make the stress worthwhile.
19. Start a larva feed business
This business is one profitable business idea that can come from food waste. Here, you get to utilize special technologies to convert organic waste from food factories, restaurants and hotels, plus out-of-date produce from supermarkets to create larvae feed.
The resultant feed is used to feed fly larvae, which in turn is used to feed chickens and farm-raised fish. This business not only reduces food waste, but also turns a profit for the company while reducing the environmental footprint of raising chicken and fish.
20. Start a worm to fertilizer farm
Repurposing waste can be as simple as it is ingenious. You can use red worms to transform food and other biodegradable waste into organic fertilizer. Doing so, of course, reduces waste but also results in higher-quality soil.
21. Turn food waste into plastic bottles
Almost anything is possible in the recycle world. You can start a recycling company that transforms food waste into plastic bottles. A company called bio-on is presently utilizing this method to make a lot of money out of discarded food.
Using a fermentation process involving sugar beet, Bio-on manufactures plastics that can be used for anything from food packaging to electronics. Better yet, the process requires no chemical additives, and the end products are biodegradable, dissolving upon prolonged contact with bacteria. You can as well borrow a leaf from this company to start your own.
22. Turn Banana flakes into baby food
A lot of countries in East and West Africa are major banana producers. During peak banana seasons, much of these bananas go to waste because they lack methods of preservation. A savvy entrepreneur can buy the bananas from farmers in bulk and produce baby food from it. You could sell a dry porridge mixture or banana rice, or you could produce moist ready food mixture sold in jars.
23. Make cooking fuel from food waste
One very popular way of making cooking fuel is from rotting bananas. This recycling method was made popular by researchers from the University of Nottingham (UK) after they perfected the technology and produced what they called banana briquettes.
If you live in a country that produces banana, you could collect banana waste by buying it cheaply from farmers and households in order to produce low-cost cooking fuel from it. This cooking fuel is especially useful in African countries where cooking fuel/kerosene or gas is expensive. If you do not live in an African country, then know that you have to export your product.
24. Start a tomato paste factory
Nigeria is Africa’s top tomato producer and ranks 13th in the world, but about 50 percent of Nigeria’s tomatoes go to waste each year. Despite this, Nigeria is one of the top importers of tomato paste in Africa. There is so much space for tomato paste production there and Nigerians love tomatoes in their stews and sauces. The model may also work in other markets in Africa. Also think of producing, packaging, and branding liquidized tomato puree.
25. Make nutrition bars from spent grain
The grains used in making beers are most times discarded as trash, but not anymore. These spent gains can be used to make items that are edible as well as nutritious. One product you can make from spent grain is a nutrition bar. You can get the grain, mix them up with other nuts and dried fruit, then you get them fortified with nutrients. With proper marketing, this product is sure to make good sales especially among people that are running on a diet.
26. Make beer from discarded bread
It is now possible to make beer from bread. With this new innovation, all those discarded bread and all those sandwich backs can now be put to good use. You can contact restaurants, hotels, bakeries etc. for daily supply of unused bread and sandwich backs.
This is indeed another way to make some good profit from food waste. Carrot peels can indeed make good and nutritious cookies.
28. Turn fruit peels into supplements
Fruit peels and leftover fruits are not only good for making compost, you can as well make something beneficial to the body out of it. Fruit peels like left over carrot tops and peels, onion skins, celery tops, pineapple cores, string bean tips, romaine leaves and watermelon rinds are naturally packed with vitamins and minerals that you may not even get in the fruits themselves.
You can open a factory where you get to harness these vitamins and package them as supplements. It is worthy to note that the average American household uses supplements, so you would not lack market for your products.
Flour, sugar, butter, fruit both dry and fresh are always getting discarded. If you have where to assess these resources on a daily basis, you can start your own bakery. You can sell your bread and other pastries on a discount, and you can locate your bakery in a less privileged locality so that you would find consumers for your produce.
30. Create an app that shows users supermarkets with about to expire products
If you have a way with apps, you can create an app that shows consumers supermarkets and food stores that have about to expire produce. These products are usually sold off by supermarkets at cheap prices so as not to lose them altogether. You can approach supermarkets that are interested and link them up. When consumers download this app they get to receive notifications on stores running these discounts.
31. Make banana flour that is Gluten-free, wheat-free and has low GI
Dried bananas are gluten-free, wheat-free, and has a low GI. This is one business someone who lives in an area with lots of bananas can start. The bananas are first dried then they are ground to flour. This flour can be used for a lot of purposes including cooking and baking.
32. Turn food waste into compost
Compost is an important soil amendment made of decomposed plant matter including food scraps. Fruit and vegetable scraps, plus food wastes such as coffee grounds, tea bags, and eggs shells, can be composted. The earth has been recycling organics for billions of years, but much recently, humans have interrupted that circular system by entombing valuable nutrients in landfills and relying on chemical fertilizers.
You can start a compost business where you get to gather food wastes from households and places that deal primarily with food. With the right composition, your compost pit can compost properly in a week or two and you get to sell them off to farmers in your locality.
33. Turn food waste to industrial fuel
The largest single portion of the trash heap is organics, or things that once had life. That apple core, that untouched macaroni salad, that slice of pizza, you name them. As they decompose, they release methane, a greenhouse gas that is harmful to the environment, but useful to humans.
You can start up a company where you get to mine these gases that result from decomposition into industrial fuel. The concept is that greenhouse gases are captured and channeled into giant chemical tanks, where the water-resistant solar cells turn the carbon dioxide/water combination into fuels.
34. Start a rendering company
Rendering is a process that converts waste animal tissue into stable, usable materials. Liquid fats and solid meat products can be used as raw materials in the rendering industry, which converts them into animal food, cosmetics, soap, and other products.
You can start a rendering company where you get to gather animal waste from abattoirs, restaurants and such and process them into usable fats. You can equally start a company that makes use of those fats, or you can sell the byproducts to companies that need them.
35. Start a food waste awareness programme/NGO
In spite of the obvious fact that food waste can be used in a sustainable way to address many pressing social and environmental issues, a lot of people who produce food waste are not aware of such uses. You can start a food waste awareness programme, or even an NGO in this regard. You can utilize this platform to make people environmentally conscious of the impacts of food waste and to encourage them to manage food waste in a sustainable way.
36. Start a research institute
Food waste is considered by many people as non-useful materials that are harmful to the environment. They can also cause illnesses such as meningitis and foot disease if human beings come in contact with them. While all these are true, but another truth is that there is no such thing as waste.
We discard food we don’t use again because we don’t know what to do with them. In today’s world, it is possible to make good use of food waste by turning them into resources. You can start a food waste research center where you get to find out new ways to utilize food waste for the benefit of the environment.
37. Start a mushroom farm that uses coffee grounds
Generally, mushroom growers use felled logs to grow their mushrooms. They prepare the logs, sprinkle the spores and the mushroom grows. But to get the right logs can be quite expensive. It has now been discovered that mushrooms can comfortably grow on coffee grounds; that is the waste product that is left after coffee has been brewed.
You can visit cafes and offer to take these messy grounds off their hands at the end of each day, and when you have enough, you can start your mushroom farm.
38. Start a business that helps restaurants reduce food waste
In the race to reduce food waste, knowledge is everything. It is a fact that a lot of chefs don’t know how to make the best use out of food ingredients.
You can make a business out of going around to teach this to them. You can use technology to help restaurants or cafeterias measure the ingredients that can be utilized in a business day, the ideal size of food that should be in a plate, and how to make better use of food ingredients, example, how to use vegetable shavings to make soup stock. The ultimate goal here is to help them reduce their level of wastage drastically while you make some income out of it.
39. Start a Grocery Store that sells imperfect produce
For a standard supermarket or food mart, blemished fruits and vegetables are bad for business, and as such they don’t collect them talk more of putting them up on the shelf. In fact, fruits, vegetables, meats etc. get sent to these stores based on specification, and produce that don’t meet these standards are not accepted.
Granted, they would always be blemished produce after the harvest, and instead of composting those produce or sending them to landfills, you can start a business off them. You can start a grocery or food store that sells blemished produce at very low cost directly to consumers. It would not be difficult to get these produce as farmers would gladly give them out for a token.
40. Start a bakery that uses spent grain
Another way one can make a profit out of food waste is to start a bakery that uses spent grain from breweries. Most brewers give their grains away for free to anyone willing to pick them up, since they would have to pay for waste disposal otherwise.
Collecting spent grain for your bakery will cut down the cost of ingredient for you as you can dry the grain, grind them and use them as flour. You can start labeling your bread from the brewery your spent grain came from to compensate the brewery.
Grains are used to feed birds and livestock because of the nutrients it contains. Spend grain which is grain that is leftover after the beer brewing process is also equally nutritious despite it been already put to use. The most common recipient of these grains are farmers who use it as livestock feed due to its high protein, starch, and fiber content.
You can start a livestock feed mill that has spent grain as the major ingredient it uses for feed production. Because spent grain costs little or nothing to obtain as breweries would gladly give them out to you, you get to cut your cost of operation by half. Farmers would gladly buy well produced livestock feed from you then if they had to process the spent grain by themselves.
42. Start an organic food waste collection business
Businesses that are into the food business are always having organic wastes in their hands which they usually don’t know how to deal with. Cafes have coffee grounds, breweries have spent grain, restaurants have food waste etc. Being that a lot of other businesses utilize these wastes, you can start lifting these wastes and distributing them to businesses that need them. If you play your cards well, you can charge your fees at both ends, that is you can charge a fee for lifting the waste out of the hands of the producers, and charge the users a fee for the service.
43. Start a company that produces jam from damaged fruits
Another way food waste can be turned into a profitable business is to look into spreads and dressings. If you really know how to produce jams, chutneys, salad dressings etc., you can start doing so in a low cost way by making use of damaged or misshapen fruit. With their long shelf life, you wouldn’t be pressured to sell the jams and stuff immediately so that you can establish market channels.
44. Start an anaerobic digestion plant
Anaerobic digestion is the most prevalent method of processing general food waste. Anaerobic digestion is a process in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of gaseous oxygen. As the microorganisms break down the feedstock, a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide called biogas is produced.
This biogas can be combusted to generate heat and electricity or processed into natural gas and fuel. The material remaining after the digestion process is complete is called digestate, which can be used as animal bedding, applied directly to farmland, or composted for use as a soil amendment.
Start a disposable food waste bag manufacturing business
Disposable food waste bags are used in so many homes around the world to dispose of wastes generated in the home. With its widespread use and ever-growing market base, you could start your food waste management business career by first manufacturing disposable food waste bags.
Residential environments are always looking for more ways to keep their environments clean at the lowest possible cost. You could do this by starting a low-cost garbage collection business and market your services to people living in estates and several other serene environments.
47. Produce coffee oil to fuel cars
A new technology has just emerged where oil can be extracted from coffee and turned into fuel for cars, stoves, woodburners and open fires. The coffee sector wastes millions of tons of grounds each year, and these wastes can be collected and put to good use. You can perfect this technology and use it to produce an alternative fuel source.
48. Hold food waste parties
Holding food waste parties is a fun way to make good use of food waste. You can gather a couple of friends and get them to make meals out of leftovers they have in their homes. These leftover meals can be taken to shelters and distributed to people who need them, not in form of leftovers, but in form of piping hot meals.