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Using a 3D printer to combat food waste

Using a 3D printer to combat food waste

3D printing technology is disrupting a whole range of industries, from aerospace to the food business. For the latter, the technology might soon tackle food waste, according to a recent story in Digital Trends.

A pair of visionaries from the Netherlands, Elzelinde van Doleweerd, a technologist, and her business partner, Vita Broeken, have developed a way to use a 3D printer to recycle food that might otherwise be thrown into the trash.

In one process, day-old bread and old fruit or vegetables are processed into a puree that is suitable to be fed into a 3D printer. The printer then layers down the puree into pleasingly-shaped snacks that are then baked and served.

The two entrepreneurs are first exploring high-end restaurants as a way to market their products. The concept involves the food waste turned into tasty snacks and then served to customers, likely as an appetizer. Depending what the day-old bread component of the puree is paired with, that snack can be any variety of sweet or savory that one can imagine.

The next step will be to scale up the 3D printer so that the snacks can be created at volume. The snacks would also have a long shelf life.

Other possible customers for the 3D printer/food recycler include grocery stores and food wholesalers. Food waste would be turned from something that must be tossed out into a money-making resource that expands the variety of available food.

Bread is not the only base that could be used with the new technology. Countries in Asia, for example, have a lot of rice food waste that could be used instead, according to Two Dutch visionaries are looking at vegan snacks.

The 3D printer/food recycler started as a project at a university and is now a startup company called Upprinting.

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