RECYCLING: Concrete-Like Material Made From Cabbage Leaves.


Concrete-like construction materials made from food waste. (Credit: Institute of Industrial Science, the University of Tokyo)

Researchers at the Institute of Industrial Science at The University of Tokyo have developed a new method to recycle fruit and vegetable waste into robust construction materials. To do so, a mixture of vacuum-dried, pulverized food scraps, such as seaweed, cabbage leaves and fruit peels combined with water and seasonings are pressed into a mold at high temperature. The heat-pressing process resulted in different bricks, some of them turned out to be three times stronger than concrete.

"Our goal was to use seaweed and common food scraps to construct materials that were at least as strong as concrete," explains Yuya Sakai, the senior author of the study. "But since we were using edible food waste, we were also interested in determining whether the recycling process impacted the flavor of the original materials."

According to their press release, the new materials “retained their edible nature, and the addition of salt or sugar improved their taste without reducing their strength. Furthermore, the durable products resisted rot, fungi, and insects, and experienced no appreciable changes in appearance or taste after exposure to air for four months.”