The primary aim of this PhD research project is to determine practical, feasible options to generate business and economic opportunities from Australian agri-food sector waste. The project seeks to contribute to Australia’s plan [1] to
transition to a circular economy system by analysing current agri-food sector operations to determine efficient use of resources, characterise waste and identify opportunities in creating value added products from waste, particularly in the sugar industry. Specifically, this project aims to:
1. optimise food and fibre production and processing by minimising wastes to increase resource efficiency;
2. provide better decision-making models and strategies in the context of conflicting interests between economic development, the environment and landscape management;
3. build knowledge capacity to develop new markets and industries in line with circular bioeconomy (i.e. production and consumption of biomass resources, and utilisation of the waste to make value added products such as bioenergy, biochemicals, bionutrients and feed); and
4. improve fundamental understanding of the motivation and drivers governing Australia’s agri-food wastes.

This project is significant because it involves the agri-food industry in Australia, one of the main industries within Australia’s economy that contributes to resource use and waste generation. The industry’s pathway to sustainability lies upon the execution of strategies to increase environmental performance, resource efficiency and waste management initiatives, resulting in business opportunities. This research will result in significant findings as it will analyse the industry from a system-thinking perspective, it will identify the different parts of the agri-food system and their interrelationships, as well as any potential ramifications. This will aid in the identification of opportunities to effectively assess sustainable food production. Furthermore, bioeconomy and circular economy approaches will be examined as alternatives to address present and future challenges faced by the growing sector. Finally, this research will provide evidence-based approach to assist in public policy decision-making processes for the agri-food sector in a practical manner.

Advisory Team: Dr Anthony HalogDr Rajendra Adhikari

Funding: Research Training Program

Project members