“Waste Not” explores projects developed to recover nutrients from urban market, kitchen, and human waste for use in agriculture in regions where soils are degrading, and fertilizer and animal feed are hard to get.

  • €17,990 Budget in Euros
  • 2018 Final release date
  • 10 Round winner
  • 3 Locations
  • 4 Durations in months

Worldwide, a common practice threatens food security: We throw out valuable nutrients with our market, kitchen, and human waste. This is especially unsustainable in developing contexts, where populations are growing, soils are degrading, and fertilizer and animal feed are hard to get. At the same time, poorly managed waste presents an urgent health hazard. If innovators can come up with successful models for recovering nutrients from waste, they could improve food production, public health, and job availability.

A close look at three projects reveals promise and pitfalls. In South Africa, earthworms convert organic waste from a supermarket chain into fertilizer. In Haiti, a company transforms human waste, collected in buckets, into a fertilizer that can boost farmers’ yields. In Indonesia, a pilot facility feeds rotting food from local markets to larvae, which can then be fed whole to chickens or processed into a protein-rich meal.

My reporting focuses not only on the science of these projects, but also the social factors that enable them to succeed: international cooperation, local acceptance and participation, smart government regulations, and solid economic foundations.

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