Up-Cycling Lima's Organic Waste with Black Soldier Fly Technology

by CCAC Secretariat - 16 August, 2023
Ecosystem services can create profitable circular value chains for organic waste in Peru's capital.

In the campaign to reduce anthropogenic methane, waste from Peru’s food markets has emerged as a potential contributor to circular economy innovation and climate change mitigation. The organic waste generated in Lima's food markets is one of the major potential feedstocks for Black Soldier Fly (BSF) farming facilities currently being studied as an effective up-cycling solution for the city’s organic waste.  

The CCAC-supported project – Linking Waste Management and Protein Production Through Insect Technology – is currently being conducted by local organisation Grupo GEA and their partners Carbon Turnaround and Ambire. The project aims to establish the business model and concept design for a centralised BSF plant for the treatment of organic waste in Lima. BSF facilities transform organic waste into high value insect protein and additional saleable by-products.  

The waste sector is responsible for nearly 20% of human-derived methane emissions – largely from organic waste decomposing in landfills and wastewater. Not only does methane warm the atmosphere 86 times more than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period, but it also contributes to the production of tropospheric ozone – a potent air pollutant that damages human and ecosystem health. However, waste is one source of methane emissions that also presents an opportunity to innovate and extend circular economic models while also mitigating warming of the atmosphere. 

While composting is one effective method for recycling of organic waste, the higher-value products of black soldier fly technology are less well known as complementary options for mitigating waste-derived methane. BSF farms process waste through the production and harvesting of fly the larvae to create a range of protein and fatty-acid by-products which can be used in animal feed, agriculture, and other industries. They do so faster, and in less physical space than composting plants, and do not require as much water to maintain the activity of microorganisms – a key consideration for Lima, which is one of the most water-scarce cities in Latin America. 

The resources produced by BSF farming include fishmeal and animal feed products, high-value organic fertiliser, cosmetic oil additives and even components of biodegradable plastic. The facilities can also be designed to produce biogas, which could be captured to power the facility itself and improve the carbon footprint even more. The value of these products means there is more potential to upscale the use of BSF facilities, making them suitable for long-term investment from the private sector. 

The potential BSF facility planned for Lima has the capacity to process 250 tonnes of organic substrate per day, equivalent to around 500 tonnes of raw organic waste. Lima produces around 5000 tonnes of organic waste per day from homes, food markets, restaurants, green areas and gardens, and even industries. Initially, the BSF technology will be implemented using sources rich in organic waste such as food markets and selected industries.  

Given the lack of organic waste diversion at the household level, collecting and processing organic waste from the city’s main food markets is the most effective way to establish the initial value chain for BSF facilities. Currently, only 0.58% of the daily organic waste of the city is composted, and a portion of organic waste from Lima’s markets is collected for swine farming in socially disadvantaged communities. There is limited capacity to develop a compost plant appropriate for a city of 10 million people like Lima. 
 
Small-scale BSF plants are already used in some regions of Peru, where climatic conditions are ideal for the fly. In Lima however, the drier and cooler climate requires modifications to the design of the plant, and the sourcing of renewable energy for the plant to be as effective as possible in its goal of reducing the warming impact of methane. The study and design of the proposed BSF facility was also planned in a way to be easily adaptable to other large cities in Latin America or other continents. 

 

“Considering that more than half of the municipal solid waste in Peru is organic, technological alternatives such as the one being developed with the CCAC-supported project on the rearing of the black soldier fly for the production of high quality protein from this type of waste, offer enormous potential not only for its contribution to the transition towards a circular economy, but also because it contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. At MINAM, we are pleased with the development of this type of solution.” 
Dr. Giuliana Becerra, Vice Minister of Environmental Management. Ministry of Environment (MINAM), Peru 

 

BSF technology has been shown to greatly reduce the residual methane in organic waste. Modelling from other BSF facilities shows that greenhouse gas emissions from BSF projects are less than half of the emissions of other options like composting. It is estimated that a 250-ton capacity BSF plant in Lima could avoid 18,426 tonnes of methane per year. Additional greenhouse gas reductions from BSF technology derive from the replacement of unsustainable fish meal currently used for industrial production of animal food and aquaculture.

The Lima BSF project has the support of Peru’s Ministry of Environment, which is promoting similar projects in ‘recycling corridors’ in different Peruvian regions such as Amazonia, where the ecosystem for the BSF is ideal. Financial incentives have proven effective in spreading the uptake of composting facilities to nearly all municipalities in Peru. Lessons learned from these ongoing projects will be invaluable to promote and scale up BSF technology as a feasible option for Peruvian cities.  
 
With BSF facilities already showing a strong business case for financial sustainability and expandability, the project is now implementing its third phase which seeks to raise awareness among businesses, financial institutions, government, and non-governmental organisation stakeholders. This phase includes raising awareness about the secondary contributions of methane mitigation through BSF and other technologies contributing to Peru’s National Determined Contributions as a part of the Paris Agreement to limit warming to 1.5°C.  

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