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Converting Supermarket Waste To Animal Feed, A Sicilian Startup

On the Italian island of Sicily, young entrepreneurs have launched a project aimed at reducing waste of fresh produce by finding alternative four-legged consumers.

Going sour
Going sour

MESSINA — Beyond the piles of food we've bought that wind up getting wasted are the mountains of waste from those who do the selling. By some estimates, the average citizen throws away half a kilogram of purchased food, and major supermarket chains regularly toss 60 to 70 % of their fruit and vegetables and 25 to 30 % of their packaged goods, once the expiration dates have come and gone.

In the Sicilian city of Messina, Giuseppe Galatà, an animal lover and construction engineer, has built on a new way for supermarkets to reduce waste: turn past-their-prime fruits and vegetables into animal feed. La Repubblica reports on Galatà's project, called Saved, which has landed the support of the University of Messina, and substantial funding from Italy's Ministry of Education, Universities and Research as a Smart City project.

Instead of dumping excess fruits and vegetables, the Save project encourages supermarkets to collect them and send them off to be treated and dehydrated, following procedures established after certified tests carried out by the Sicilian university. The resulting feed is suitable both for cows that have just given birth, and their calves.

The silage technique used acidifies vegetable mass and yields a fruit and vegetable mix containing 18% protein, a much higher share than that found in traditional animal feeds and one more conducive to healthy animal growth, La Repubblica reports.

Though the start-up is based in Sicily, Galatà, a native of northern Italy, has teamed up with the University of Ferrara and the University of Parma further north for boxing and packaging solutions.

So far, all the excess food turned to feed has been collected thanks to an agreement with the Despar supermarket chain in Sicily, but Save's supporters hope the project will expand. Galatà notes that in wasting less food, commercial vendors will save tax costs less trash to be collected, and so will pay lower taxes. Farmers, meanwhile, will be able to buy locally produced animal feed whenever they like, and communities will be able to improve their overall waste management and recycling performances.

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