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CAN (ON): Investigating renewable energy technologies from greenhouse vegetable waste

The Ontario government is working to protect the environment by investing in agri-food research to develop eco-friendly innovations such as bioproducts and waste reduction and recycling technologies.

The province's $1.2 million agri-food research investment will also strengthen Ontario's economy and boost innovation in the agri-food sector by creating agricultural-based products and identifying diverse market opportunities in Ontario and globally.

"This research looks at new bioproducts, technologies, markets and policies to make the agri-food sector more sustainable and profitable," said Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. "This will help create economic, environmental and energy opportunities for farmers, food processors, greenhouses and consumers while strengthening and diversifying our agri-food sector."

Through the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance, the government is funding research to create new value-added products, food ingredients, market opportunities and technology to reduce waste.

One project aims to develop and market biodegradable and/or compostable straws made from natural fibre using Ontario-grown miscanthus grass and corn stover. It is anticipated the material used for the straws could later be used in other common single-use items such as cutlery and food containers.

Another project will use three-dimensional (3D) printing to make lightweight, stable and sustainable biomedical and automotive products. Using agricultural residues and recycled plastic, products such as prosthetics and car door latch handles will be developed.

Other research projects include:

  • Creating renewable biochemical products from poultry waste such as lactic acid used to manufacture bioplastics, food flavours, pharmaceuticals and personal care products. 
  • Adding value to Ontario-grown beans by identifying novel food uses for new products, such as bakery products with new properties and high-value food ingredients from bean processing by-products.
  • Investigating renewable energy technologies from greenhouse vegetable waste. 

"As Canada's food university, the University of Guelph is committed to research that powers the agri-food sector into the future, using our discoveries to fuel unique and sustainable innovations with agricultural roots," said Malcolm Campbell, Vice-President (Research). "With this OMAFRA support, University of Guelph researchers will enable Ontario's businesses to create world-leading, renewable, agricultural-sourced products for Canadians and the world."

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