Biotechnologies for organic waste recycling

According to our research, more than 50% of your trash bin is filled with organic waste: expired products, the remains of a meatloaf that you couldn’t finish, vegetables and fruit peel.

Unfortunately, Russia still has no infrastructure for centralized recycling of organic waste, which eventually ends up in a landfill. There, food remains slowly decompose and release toxic gases - methane, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur oxides. Not only do they create an unpleasant odor, but also pollute the air, soil and water.

We aim to solve the problem of organic waste and for this we turned to biotechnology. As part of one of our projects, we are developing a technology for recycling organic waste with the help of Black Soldier Fly larvae (short - BSF).

Why Black Soldier Fly
This type of tropical fly is an ideal insect for organic waste recycling. They are harmless to humans: they do not transmit diseases, do not bite or sting. They quickly consume food waste and just as quickly gain weight, recycling waste to a fertilizer . They do not eat human food - they are only attracted to waste. They live only 14 days, but during this time they manage to lay many eggs. 

Recycling technology
The BSFs lay eggs, which after 4 days incubate into larvae. The larvae consume food waste mixed with compound feed, thus recycling it into fertilizer. After 14-36 days, the larvae enter the pupal stage. After that, the pupae are separated from the substrate, which consists of their metabolic products.
During the active stage, the larvae manage to recycle a volume of waste that is 20 times their original weight. The substrate becomes a natural fertilizer, the larvae soon turn into flies and the cycle of organic waste recycling can start anew.

How we raised flying biorobots
In 2021, we launched an insectarium for breeding BSF larvae. We set the right lighting and humidity level, and developed the containers of the correct configuration. This is the first step to establish the full life cycle of an insect - from adult to egg and back.
After the flies laid eggs, we incubated them into larvae. We conducted several experiments with feed to see how they react to different types. For 10 days, the larvae ate organic waste and four types of clean substrate: wheat and rye bran, potato and carrot peelings. We established that vegetable peels are more nutritious for the larvae, but require constant monitoring of humidity. The fertilizer obtained from the larvae was sent for chemical and microbiological examination.
Our next step was to develop an experimental module for breeding larvae. The module is a large rack with a capacity of up to 72 containers for larvae. We set up automatic microclimate support for larvae to maintain stable breeding conditions.

To date, we have already completed 14 cycles of larva rearing and are actively working on a prototype of equipment for recycling organic waste with the help of BSF. A little more work, and efficient organic recycling will become a reality.