F&A Next: Ideas for the circular economy mushroom

Turning waste into profit is now big business. But often, companies don’t have the vision or the partners to convert what they used to throw away into revenue streams. Resources like the Circado trading platform help them join the circular economy.

Linda Grieder is the founder and CEO of Switzerland-based RethinkResource. She took part in F&A Next last year, introducing her company’s secondary resources trading platform, Circado. The platform is designed to stimulate the circular economy in the food producing industry.

“At F&A Next 2017, I talked about the shift of thinking that has to happen in the industry,” says Grieder. “People need to see the by-products of their processes as a resource and not as waste. It’s also very important that the food producing industry connects to other industries that can convert these into new, valuable products. A great example are mushrooms, which can thrive on waste from grain milling instead of on regular substrate.”

Where do you think things stand now?

“The circular economy ecosystem in the F&A industry is developing – there’s a lot happening in terms of secondary resources product innovation. What’s important now is that the consumer sees the value of those products. Research institutes and large industrial players are starting to building consortia working on different ideas and we are helping to bring them together to develop those innovations.

“The highlight this year for RethinkResource has been launching the Circado prototype. Any company can now sign-up and start testing, which is crucial for us and our customers, who are keen to see how it works in practice.”

”We can make companies’ side-streams generate revenue and profit”

- Linda Grieder, RethinkResource

What particular gap in the market are you aiming to fill?

“Many producing companies see their side-streams as a cash-flow negative issue. We want to give them the opportunity to change that and make their side-streams generate revenue and profit. So we’re aiming to provide a large network to connect them with counterparties who can use those secondary resources.”

Why did you see this as important?

“I have a lot of connections in the food producing industry through family and friends. And I was really shocked about the amount of waste generated by the industry.”

How are you working with F&A companies?

“As well as the Circado platform, we initiate projects with companies to identify resources that could be upcycled and work with them, researchers and third parties to make that happen.”

What’s the potential in the F&A space for upcycling?

The whole idea comes out of the F&A space. But at the outset, we conducted in-depth market analysis to work out which industry had the most potential and food & agri came out near the top. Most industries have either a lot of low-value side-streams or a few high-value, but F&A has a combination of both, which is unique.”

How can F&A companies work with you to create value from their side-streams?

“The essential thing is that they are willing to change their processes – and that’s difficult for a lot of companies. If you already know there is value in your waste or you already have an idea, it’s often just a question of finding a suitable partner via Circado. But if you’re unsure, we can help assess viability.”

Robotics and corporate innovation are the central focus of F&A Next 2018, the event for innovation in the agrifood sector. F&A Next brings together large corporates wanting to innovate and start-ups that need financing, advice and clients. There are just a few tickets left for F&A Next 2018 on May 30 and 31.