Atmosphere for Transition
If you’re considering a career change or interested in creative ways to address the global climate crisis, thanks to Zero Waste Scotland’s activities this month, you might be among the droves of Scots learning about insect farming.
Three public events on the future of food, focusing on the farming of insects like mealworm and black soldier fly, will be organized by the Scottish circular economy expert group. The events will take place in partnership with NGN, New Generation Nutrition, the Dutch insect sector experts, as part of the EU ValuSect initiative.
New EU regulations implemented in 2017 allow the breeding of seven species of insects that are capable of turning food waste into high-quality protein. Insect farming is seen in a recent study by Zero Waste Scotland1 as a safe way to grow more food with fewer resources and lucrative job opportunities.
Demand for protein is growing, but about half of the Earth’s habitable land is already taken up by food systems like agriculture. More than three-quarters (77 percent) of this is dedicated to raising food for animals2. Furthermore, food systems account for an estimated 26% of global carbon emissions.
In recent years, both agriculture and aquaculture – or fish farming – have been working hard to maximize sustainability, but there is still a growing need for more sustainable sources of feed protein to alleviate environmental stresses, foster biodiversity and tackle the climate crisis. As an alternative feed for fish, poultry and pigs, insects may play a valuable role – and they can also be used to produce animal feed.
Furthermore, insect farming could assist in recycling some of the food waste generated in Scotland. This is because insects can be fed from arable fields, supermarkets and bakeries – all from broccoli to potato chips – with surplus food. It is possible to transform exoskeletons into a bioplastic, oils are a helpful feed additive, and even droppings can be used as a biofertilizer.
Dr. William Clark, a specialist in bioeconomy at Zero Waste Scotland, explains:
“The next big thing may be insect farming – a way to fill the expected ‘protein void’ that also has the potential to increase the carbon footprint of Scotland.
It is also open to everyone, from homeowners to smallholders, to emerging food farmers looking to diversify, to companies in the bioeconomy field and to innovation-oriented entrepreneurs. That’s because you don’t need a lot of space – insect farms may range from a small shed to industrial-scale feed mills or a few shipping containers. You have to know how to take care of them, but in all situations, with a fraction of the money, you can generate large quantities of sustainable protein.
All over the world, insect farming is already developed. We don’t yet have an insect industry here, but Scotland is a very great place to grow insects and we have seen a lot of interest. It’s great for the aspirations of Scotland’s circular economy that we can take advantage of the opportunities provided by insect farming, and I would encourage anyone who is interested to sign up for the events to learn.
On Tuesday, November 17, Zero Waste Scotland and NGN are hosting an introduction to the insect market. Visit http://ngn.co.nl/ukwebinar/. to book a spot.
This will be accompanied by two events on Thursday 19 and 26 November on the development of proteins and the bioeconomy of a circular economy. Visit https://zerowastescotland.org.uk/events to reserve a spot.
All activities are free but restricted and offered online.
Visit the Zero Waste Scotland website to read more about sustainable proteins.