An edible building material made of food waste

Fabula, a spinoff company of the University of Tokyo, developed an edible building material up to 4 times the bending strength of concrete, made of food waste.

Worldwide, industrial and household food waste amounts to hundreds of billions of pounds per year, a large part comprising of edible parts, such as fruit and vegetable peels. Simultaneously, concrete is responsible for a large portion of global CO2 emissions.

The material is made using a heat pressing concept commonly used to make construction materials out of wood powder. Instead of wood, however, food scraps are used, after they are vacuum dried and pulverised. Any kind of food scrap can be used, from coffee grounds to citrus peels. The food powder is mixed with water and seasonings. It is then pressed into a mould at high temperature.

Not all food scraps are created equally, however. Pumpkin-based material did not survive the bending strength target. However, when Chinese cabbage leaves were used, the material’s bending strength was 4 times stronger than concrete. A 5 mm thin plate can bear 30 kg weight. Thus, the strength depends on the raw material (i.e. the food waste). Fabula is experimenting to see if mixes of different types of food waste can increase the strength of the material. A pumpkin and cabbage mix severely increased the pumpkin material’s strength to twice the bending strength of concrete.

Since the raw material is edible and no adhesives are added, the building material is still edible.

In addition to construction material, the material can also be used to make fir instance dishes, tools and furniture. Bon appétit!

Photo: University of Tokyo / Fabula