Dubai: The region’s 1st project to upcycle organic waste into high-quality products was recently inaugurated by Ms. Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and the Environment (MOCCAE).
The project by innovative homegrown startup Circa Biotech farms black soldier fly (BSF) larvae, fed by food leftovers before being turned into animal proteins, organic fertilizers, and oils.
During her visit to the firm’s headquarters in Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, Ms. Almheiri signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Circa Biotech, extending support to the pioneering project.
The MOCCAE further added that, “The world is witnessing a rise in capital funding for insect farming companies. In the UAE, we consider support for innovation and R&D a foundation for raising the efficiency of the circular economy model. Circa Biotech’s project follows the principles of circular economy by using organic waste and the nutrients it contains as inputs into the feed production process, thus enhancing food security.
“To support industries that need insect proteins, we must draw a roadmap to facilitate the imports of agricultural inputs and enhance related government services. This project will contribute to reducing the carbon footprint of the agricultural sector by producing organic feed and fertilizers in a sustainable way. In addition, it will divert organic waste away from the landfill and reduce methane emissions resulting from its decomposition,” Ms. Almheiri stated.
Sharing his remarks about the project, Mr. Mohamed Al Ramahi, CEO of Masdar, remarked that, “As the only planned and approved R&D cluster in Abu Dhabi, Masdar City is strengthening its position as the primary location for some of the world’s most cutting-edge sustainability projects. With our partner The Catalyst, which is the region’s first accelerator for sustainability-focused start-ups, we are delighted to be home to this groundbreaking food waste management project by Circa Biotech, supported by MOCCAE. This is an invaluable addition to global solutions that will enhance the agri-tech sector, and Masdar City looks forward to continuing its role in shaping the sustainable industries of tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Haythem Riahi, co-founder and CEO of Circa Biotech, said, “At Circa Biotech, we developed an innovative process to upcycle food waste into protein-rich animal feed using industrial insect farming. It’s a commercially viable solution to locally produce animal feed with a highly sustainable process. At a full industrial scale, we plan to produce 22,000 tonnes of animal feed per year.”
The Circa Biotech Project will initially produce 1.5 tons of organic fertilizer every month. Further, the company is expected to develop the production, treating 200 tons of food waste per day and upcycling it into the food value chain.
This will help meet the increasing local demand for livestock feed. It will also curb the dependence on fishmeal in aquaculture, which is witnessing price increases and instability due to limited supply, with its costs reaching up to 80 percent of expenditure within the industry.
The produced feed is rich in proteins, fats, minerals, and vitamins, and has high nutritional value. The larvae can be harvested every 14 days due to the BSF’s short 45-day lifecycle and high fertility.
The BSF is considered ideal for feed production, as it does not transmit diseases, does not cause any damage or infestations, and is a non-invasive species. The BSF are reared in an industrial control system (ICS) environment with sensors that record real-time temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide levels under well-researched lighting. This model ensures optimal resource use and efficient water consumption, and has limited climate change impact and low emissions.