Students from the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) recently participated in a unique program that encourages the conversion of food waste into viable food products. The competition is part of the “Food Waste to Good Taste” Innovation program, which promotes Upcycling and sustainability.

The six-month program, organized in partnership with GREEN Hospitality, encourages students to rethink food waste by participating in workshops, seminar and food audits that culminate in a competition where students present their ideas.

Innovation by Upcycling

“It’s been a learning curve for them because they’ve never done it before,” explained Dr. Jetty Lee, an associate professor at HKU and a member of the team that led the program.
Not only do you need to develop a recycled product from food waste, but you also need to develop a viable Plan to bring it to the market.

It all came down to eight teams presenting their ideas to professionals from the food and beverage industry and the hospitality or services in Hong Kong. The winners of the group competition would have received certificates and cash prizes sponsored by Veolia Hong Kong and Marriott Group.

Toothpaste for dogs

The winning entry turned out to be a clever but probably smelly toothpaste for dogs, which the participants called Upcycleista. By combining leftover food containing shrimp heads and their shells, carrot shells, pork bones and eggshells, the team won a cash prize of HK 5,000.

The nutrients contained in the food scraps used inspired the team member to develop the dog toothpaste, which claims to be able to whiten and strengthen the teeth of animals. The minerals it contains are calcium carbonate from shrimp and egg shells, as well as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium from pork bones.

The power of girls

The young women behind the dog tooth scrub are Gloria Chan Nok – yi and Anson Ho Ka-wing, PhD students from the HKU nutrition and nutrition program. After reflecting on what they learned during the competition, Chan explained: “The most important thing to remember was the Chance to learn more about Upcycling food waste in Hong Kong that I didn’t know about. Now I can explore an alternative career path,” she added.

Ho noted: “I think the key experience was the Brainstorming process. This helped us improve our creative abilities and learn more about food waste recycling.”

It is not known if or when Upcycleista will ever be launched here in the United States, but it is recommended that you brush your pets’ teeth regularly to avoid future dental and health problems that affect their ability to eat, cause pain and, ultimately, shorten their already short life.