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I recently saw a viral tweet circulating that read, “My waiter asked, ‘Now, do we want straws OR do we want to save the turtles?’ and honestly we all deserve that environmental guilt trip.” I don’t know if this conversation actually took place or not, but the writer has a point. Unless we’re able to successfully colonize Mars, we only have one planet on which to live, and it’s the job of humankind to take care of it. 3D printing is often used in sustainability efforts – earlier this year, Dutch 3D printing service bureau Oceanz helped 3D print some of the components for Noah, the world’s first circular car made entirely from recyclable materials.

Now, it’s teaming up with Cooperative DOOR, an independent growers association of fruiting vegetables in the Netherlands, to investigate the possibilities of 3D printing vegetables in order to stop food waste.

Approximately one-third of all food around the world is wasted – that’s a truly depressing number, and a statistic that needs to turn around fast. Even though the percentage of wasted volumes in total production amounts is low, the number wasted in kilos is not. Many wholesalers, supermarkets, growers, and government institutions are working both separately and together to find innovative ways to decrease the amount of food we waste…and if DOOR and Oceanz have anything to say about it, 3D printing will play a part.

“Many 3D food printing projects now have a certain ‘fun element’, but in the end we head off to a professional 3D food printing market. It is clear that we all will be dealing with 3D printed food in the future,” said Erik van der Garde, the CEO of Oceanz.

There’s been plenty of research conducted, especially in the Netherlands, in terms of 3D printing food, and we’ve seen several 3D printed delectable dishes and desserts like chocolate, popsicles, hummuspizza, pancakes, and even gluten-free offerings. It’s even possible to create personalized food by adding flavors and nutrients based on people’s physical condition, taste preferences, DNA profile, and phase of life, and 3D print meat alternatives based on sustainable, plant-based materials.

But, based on current food waste and anticipating future food trends, Oceanz and DOOR – which has 42 members who grow tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, aubergine, and pointed sweet peppers on over 520 hectares of greenhouses – have started a conversation regarding 3D printed vegetables.

The two organizations are now looking into new opportunities in 3D printing new food concept types, and will soon be announcing the first results of this joint investigation between two separate growth markets.

[Image via The Times]

The goal is 100% use of food products – no waste at all. That’s a pretty tall order, but DOOR and Oceanz are confident in their abilities.

“In order to process the volumes to the maximum and work towards 100% use of the produced product volumes, Cooperative DOOR has set out various projects to reduce food waste from primary production,” explained Martijn Kesteloo, DOOR’s Business Development Manager. “They started years ago to dry tomato wedges for usage in restaurants & catering. With rejected tomatoes they created a base for tomato spread/ tapenade and to take it a step further, the investigation to find new ways of 3d printing food. With the use of 3D printing, Cooperative DOOR wants to realize one of their sustainability goals ‘100% usage of its produced products’.”

Oceanz has plenty of experience in multiple industries, from automotive and aerospace to medical, and is always looking to grow its knowledge base and search for innovative new projects that can increase savings and production capacity and, as is the case with this new cooperation, do some good for the world.

Discuss 3D printed food and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below. 

[Veggie images provided by Oceanz]

 

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