Online platform for farmers to sell agri-waste launched

Dubbed the “Tinder of agri-waste”, a new website called ‘Agrocycle Marketplace’ – which allows farmers and food producers to sell their waste to biogas energy producers and other users across Europe – was launched by Irish researchers.

A team of international researchers and businesses, including partners from University College Dublin, NUI Maynooth and Manor Farm Chickens in Cavan, have developed a new, free agri-waste trading website called Agrocycle Marketplace.

The AgroCycle products and technologies will be on display at a special event in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Backweston, Celbridge, Co. Kildare, this Friday, March 29, at 2:00pm.

Dr. Tom Curran, AgroCycle project co-ordinator and assistant professor in Biosystems and Food Engineering at UCD, commented about the platform:

“This new website will not only provide a source of income and information for farmers and businesses. More importantly, it will facilitate smart and sustainable ways to reduce, reuse and recycle agri-food waste.

Of the 1.3 billion tonnes of waste generated in Europe each year, 700 million tonnes come from agri-food waste. This level of waste is no longer sustainable.

“That’s why AgroCycle has developed many new products and technologies to give agri-food waste a new purpose. These products are essential for helping create a ‘circular economy’,” he added.

Potential customers for agri-waste include: organisations with biodigester machines to convert waste into biogas energy; livestock feed producers; and start-up companies developing new products which add value to such residues.

In recent years, bio-digestion or anaerobic digestion (AD) is becoming a popular diversification for farmers and food producers, as the extra income often subsidises other parts of the business, according to Agrocycle.

There are approximately 150 biodigester devices in Ireland at present, both North and South of the border. These machines need agricultural waste to generate biogas.

AgroCycle Marketplace can help connect ‘producers’ with ‘users’, according to the company.

Other AgroCycle innovations include: drinking cups, flower pots and food packaging made from potato pulp instead of plastic; ‘rice-cream’ made from the food waste rice bran or rice husk; and edible straws.

“Many businesses such as food and beverage producers, retailers and hoteliers have already expressed a strong interest in our AgroCycle ‘edible straw’ product” said Shane Ward, UCD professor of Biosystems Engineering and AgroCycle team member.

“These straws – made from rice bran food waste – will provide a solution for businesses as a ban on single-use plastic will soon come into effect in Europe,” he added.