Waste-processing plants in China are using up to 1 billion cockroaches to process over 50 tons of daily kitchen waste.
Cockroaches farmed by the billions in China to chew through food waste
Ever-expanding Chinese cities are generating more food waste than landfills can bear, and some are turning to cockroaches as a way to get rid of mountains of food scraps, providing nutritious feed for livestock at the end of the bugs’ lifecycle and, some say, cures for stomach illnesses and cosmetic treatments.
HOW BILLIONS OF COCKROACHES ARE HELPING CHINA PROCESS FOOD WASTE
On the outskirts of Jinan, capital of eastern Shandong province, a billion cockroaches are being fed with 50 tonnes of kitchen waste a day – the equivalent in weight to seven adult elephants — reports Reuters.
The waste arrives before daybreak at the plant run by Shandong Qiaobin Agricultural Technology Co, where it is fed through pipes to cockroaches in their cells.
Shandong Qiaobin plans to set up three more such plants next year, aiming to process a third of the kitchen waste produced by Jinan, home to about seven million people.
A nationwide ban on using food waste as pig feed due to African swine fever outbreaks is also spurring the growth of the cockroach industry.
“Cockroaches are a bio-technological pathway for the converting and processing of kitchen waste,” said Liu Yusheng, president of Shandong Insect Industry Association.
Cockroaches are also a good source of protein for pigs and other livestock. “It’s like turning trash into resources,” said Shandong Qiaobin chairwoman Li Hongyi.
In Sichuan a company called Gooddoctor is rearing six billion cockroaches for a different reason
“The essence of cockroach is good for curing oral and peptic ulcers, skin wounds and even stomach cancer,” said Wen Jianguo, manager of Gooddoctor’s cockroach facility.
Researchers are also looking into using cockroach extract in beauty masks, diet pills and even hair-loss treatments.
At Gooddoctor, when cockroaches reach the end of their lifespan of about six months, they are blasted by steam, washed and dried, before being sent to a huge nutrient extraction tank.
Asked about the chance of the cockroaches escaping, Wen said that would be worthy of a disaster movie but that he has taken precautions.
“We have a moat filled with water and fish,” he said. “If the cockroaches escape, they will fall into the moat and the fish will eat them all.”
5 simple ways to reduce your food waste right now
Food waste is a huge problem worldwide, with one-third of all globally produced food ending up wasted. So what can the average person do to fight back? Here is a list of ways that you can reduce your food waste right now.