‘Put fruit waste to good use’

Rich in nutrients: The seed and skin of a mango can spur the growth of microalgae.

MALAYSIA is blessed with an abundance of tropical fruits that are not only rich in vitamins, but are also good for the environment.

In a study conducted by Prof Dr Wong Ling Shing (pic) and Khoo Yii Jie from the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at INTI International University, in collaboration with Assoc Prof Dr Chai Mee Kin and Tan Yeong Hwang from Universiti Tenaga Nasional (Uniten), tropical fruit waste was found to have “exceptional biological properties” that can serve as nutrients for microalgae to minimise environmental pollution.

In today’s world, global energy demand is rapidly increasing because of economic and population growth. Most developing countries still generate their energy through the combustion of fossil fuels despite various environmental issues like the effects of greenhouse gas emissions on global warming.

Excessive reliance on non-renewable fossil fuels quickens the depletion of resources and adds to economic hardship due to the pricing volatility of fossil fuels. In comparison to fossil fuels, well-known biofuels have been recognised as good renewable energy sources that can be produced using plants or microalgae.

Microalgae is often referred to as “lower plants” which can be found in the ocean and on land, in freshwater and in brackish water.

In recent years, interest has surged in algae-derived biofuels but the high cultivation cost and requirement for freshwater are major challenges in turning microalgae into a renewable energy source.

The seeds and skins of pineapples, mangos, and papayas can be used to enhance microalgae growth due to their rich nutrients.

The study conducted by Prof Wong and his team confirmed that the diluted papaya, pineapple, and mango waste can serve as nutrients to grow microalgae C. vulgaris and H. pluvialis, INTI said in a press release.

“It is ideal to replace the conventional inorganic medium with tropical organic fruit waste as a nutrient supplement.

“Some tropical fruit wastes are not consumable. More than 50% of their rinds and seeds are wasted. “These fruits are rich in moisture and organic composition, therefore the long-term effects of fruit waste disposal on the environment not only result in greenhouse gas emission, but also environmental pollution,” Prof Wong said, adding that the research also found that tropical fruit waste nutrients released into the environment may affect the balance of the ecosystem. Hence, it is important to treat such waste properly before discarding it.

When asked how the community can contribute to a greener planet, he said the best way to dispose of such waste was to bury it.

Nutrients from the buried fruit waste will fertilise the earth.

“Bury the waste in the garden or flowerpot, instead of throwing it into the rubbish bin.

“Most people understand that fruits are filled with nutrients, but they don’t appreciate tropical fruits enough.

“They often throw the fruit waste without realising the significant value it has to the environment,” he said, adding that more public awareness campaigns about fruit waste composting would serve to educate the community and spur them on to cultivate a more sustainable, safer and healthier environment.

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fruit , waste , microalgae


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