Leftover food is one of the most common types of waste that people produce. Japanese scientists have managed to find a method that recycles organic food residues into building materials. Hundreds of billions of tons of food waste are produced every year. For the most part, these are the remnants of fruit and vegetables, especially the skins. Because so much of this waste can be dangerous for the environment, scientists have been researching how to use it and turn it into something useful.

Materials stronger than concrete were created

Senior author of the study, Yuya Sakai, shared, “Our goal was to use seaweed and common food scraps to construct materials that were at least as strong as concrete.”

Sakai went on to say, “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.”

The concept of hot pressing was used to create the building material from food scraps. This concept is commonly used when manufacturing building materials from wood powder. In this case, however, vacuum-dried powdered food residues were used. These residues included cabbage leaves, seaweed, orange peels, banana peels, onion residues and other organic waste.

Three materials produced from cabbage, orange peel and onion skins have four times the strength of concrete.

Thus, a powder was formed from organic foods. This powder was mixed with water and other ingredients. Subsequently, this mixture was pressed into molds at high temperature. The final product was tested for strength, appearance, but also taste.

Senior collaborator on the project, Kota Machida, “With the exception of the specimen derived from pumpkin, all of the materials exceeded our bending strength target.”

Machida added, “We also found that Chinese cabbage leaves, which produced a material over three times stronger than concrete, could be mixed with the weaker pumpkin-based material to provide effective reinforcement.”

Use of material in construction

The resulting material retained its edible nature and even managed to improve its taste. These products are very strong, durable and can resist rot and insects. In the future, food may no longer be wasted, as it can be cleverly recycled and used to make building materials. As this material is very strong and high quality, there are many possibilities for its use, especially for building construction. Projects such as this help to reduce the environmental burden of waste.


Institute of Industrial Science, the University of Tokyo
Kota Machida:Zenger News