Recycling squared?

Recycling isn’t just the right thing to do. It makes sense for every business, no matter how large or small, to look for opportunities to minimise waste. Recycling within the business can reduce input and waste disposal costs.

Occasionally an opportunity may arise to recycle waste into a new product or even a new business venture.

But what if 95% of what you produce is waste? Abundant Seeds’ Rebecca McClung explains:

“We have nearly five thousand square metres of greenhouse at Sydney Uni’s Plant Breeding Institute where we are constantly breeding new varieties of cucumbers, tomatoes and other horticultural plants, and growing commercial varieties for seed production.

“We produce tonnes of cucumbers and other fruits each growing season, but we were only interested in the seeds, either for more breeding or for sale to growers so the rest of the fruit - over 95% - was waste.”

Even before Abundant Produce listed on the ASX, management funded research into what could be done with the fruit, high in essential nutrients, after the seeds were removed. Shortly after listing they launched Abundant Natural Health.

Abundant Natural Health extracts bio-nutrients from fruit pulp and skin and recycles them. The essential nutrients are incorporated into all natural, nutraceutical skin care and healthcare products, which are sold in Pharmacies across Australia (as well as in China, and shortly, Korea and elsewhere).

But what is recycling squared?

“My colleagues at Abundant Natural Health live and breathe natural ingredients and the whole circular economy concept,” Rebecca McClung says. “Their research taught them about the wonderful health benefits of magnesium, but they didn’t want to source it from mined ores. Instead, they collaborate with a sustainable magnesium supplier called EcoMag which gets its magnesium from the oceans, but not directly.

Extracting the magnesium directly from seawater would use a lot of energy and so be carbon emissions intensive. Instead, EcoMag uses a new process co-invented by their Chief Technology Officer, Professor Tam Tran, to recycle the hypersaline brines discarded by Western Australian sea-salt producers to extract extremely high purity magnesium.

“It’s a beautiful approach because it uses the sun’s natural evaporative power to do much of the work, and they even help the local marine environment,” McClung says.

Abundant Seeds’ Sarah Pearson and Rebecca McClung surrounded by Abundant cucumbers

EcoMag extracts around 98% of the magnesium from the brines before releasing a more environmentally benign waste stream into the ocean. The magnesium content of EcoMag's residual bitterns is less than 0.1%, similar to the level found in sea water. In fact, the composition of EcoMag’s residual bittern flow is substantially closer to that of seawater than the unharvested bitterns both in terms of the mix of elements and overall salinity.

“We call it recycling squared,” McClung says, “because Abundant Natural Health combines bio-nutrients recycled from our plants with high purity magnesium recycled from sea-salt producers to create wonderfully effective healthcare products.”

Abundant Seeds plants are bred to grow vegetables with less fertiliser, less pesticides and less temperature control, decreasing the impact of horticulture on the environment and increasing sustainability.

“So each time a farmer buys our seeds, or a consumer eats a cucumber grown on an Abundant Seeds plant, they can be happy knowing that the Abundant Produce group is doing all it can to protect the natural environment that we all rely on to lead healthy lives.”

To find out more or to get free sample seeds send a text message to 0498 464 265 or visit

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