Publications

  • Life-cycle environmental impacts of barley straw valorisation 2019, Resources, Conservation and Recycling

    Abstract

    Most food manufacturers in industrialised countries produce significant amounts of food waste during their manufacturing activities. Due to the serious environmental consequences of managing these materials, environmental impact analyses have become popular to identify more sustainable practices for food waste management. Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a useful methodology to assess such environmental impacts. This paper presents the main results obtained using the LCA methodology to analyse the potential environmental impacts of waste management for a brewery in the UK. Initially, the main waste types are identified for this industry: barley straw, malt waste and spent grain, and then barley straw is selected to study its environemental impact in detail. An alternative, more sustainable way to manage barley straw by extracting its wax with supercritical CO2 is discussed. SimaPro software is used to both quantify potential environmental impacts and evaluate the overall environmental performance of this valorisation opportunity, and to compare its modelled environmental impacts to the current impacts of managing barley straw. Results show that valorising barley straw by this method generates a high environmental impact due to the energy requirements of the processes involved, principally for human toxicity (cancer effects), human toxicity (non-cancer effects) and freshwater ecotoxicity impact categories. Using more energy-efficient processes or an alternative energy source would reduce this environmental impact. The analysis used in this paper allows an objective comparison between different scenarios with the final aim of supporting the use of sustainable solutions for waste management in the food industry.

    SMART authors: Shahin Rahimifard , Guillermo García García

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  • Abstract

    The food processing and manufacturing industry is the UK's largest manufacturing sector and consequently a large consumer of natural resources and source of environmental impacts. Considerable research effort has been made to quanitfy and characterise food waste and energy consumption from the industry, enabling the sector to set targets for reductions which contribute to national targets and the UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, and to identify improvement measures to meet the targets. A gap in this research is a detailed estimation of the energy consumption which could automatically be avoided through preventing food waste in food manufacturing. This paper reports research which estimates the energy embodied in preventable manufacturing food waste in the UK using available data for 2014. Whilst the estimate of 106 GW h per year is a tiny proportion of the industry's annual energy consumption, it is 1.75 percentage points of the main 20% energy efficiency improvement target and over half the contribution expected from energy management measures to improve energy efficiency. Preventing food waste in the factory could therefore also contribute significantly to energy efficiency and climate change targets with no extra effort.

    SMART authors: Shahin Rahimifard , Phil Sheppard

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  • Abstract

    Due to large quantities of food waste generated by manufacturers and the associated environmental impact of these waste streams, improving food waste can be complex and the most appropriate methods may not always be selected. There are a range of aspects to consider in order to select the most sustainable option to manage food waste, such as the specific type of food waste generated, characteristics of food companies that generate food waste, features of the management processors that will manage it, and the sustainability implications of dealing with the food waste. To support food waste management decision making, this paper presents a modelling procedure to assist in identifying what type and range of information is needed to model food waste management systems, allowing the user to follow a systematic methodology to make more informed decision. This procudure is based on the identification and analysis of qualitative and quanititative attributes necessary to model food waste management and an assessment of their relationships. Speciically, it describes a process to ensure that all relevant attributes are considered during the decision-making process. A case study with a large UK food and drink manufacturer is used to demonstrate the applicability and usefulness of this procedure. In conclusion, the systematic procedure presented in this paper provides a metholodgy to identify opportunities to improve the sustainability of industrial food waste management. The data obtained can be used to further undertake a life-cycle assessment study and/or to apply existing socio-economic methologies to thoroughly assess impacts and benefits of food waste management.

    SMART authors: Shahin Rahimifard , Elliot Woolley , Guillermo García García

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  • Abstract

    Food manufacturing is comprised of a number of complex processes which generate vast amounts of food waste. Frequently, strategies for dealing with these materials are rudimentary and provide a low economic and environmental value, for instance animal feeding, anaerobic digestion, composting, incineration, landspreading and landfilling. However, food wastes contain numerous chemicals with a wide range of potential commercial applications, which makes these materials suitable feedstocks for valorisation. This paper applies a Waste Flow Modelling methodology to achieve two aims: to provide valuable food manufacturing and waste data in order to better understand current food manufacturing activities, and to analyse existing food waste management practices to lay the foundation for the implementation of alternative food waste valorsiation solutions. Four UK industrial companies have been selected and assessed to represent four different food sectors where food waste valorisation could provide an economic and/or environmental advantage: a fruits supplier, a brewery, a potato supplier and a producer of peas. The production line of each of these four businesses is defined and characterised, which allows the identification of food wastes generated. Next, food wastes are categorised and quantified, and their patterns of generation and current waste management practices are described. Sankey diagrams and performance indicators are used to assess the efficiency of processes, combination of processes and the complete production line in terms of food waste generation. Finally, the results are analysed and used to obtain the main conclusions and provide recommendations for an improved food waste management system, with a focus on valorisation opportunities.

    SMART authors: Shahin Rahimifard , Guillermo García García

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  • Challenges for Industrial Robot Application in Food Manufacturing 2018, 2nd International Symposium on Computer Science and Intelligent Control

    Abstract

    The global food industry is facing many challenges due to the impact of climate change, ever-changing demands by consumers, and increasing legislative pressures by the government, which have resulted in several drivers for change. Current large-scale rigid manufacturing systems are increasingly seen as incapable of supporting the underlining requirements for implementation of such changes. In this context, one of the key requirements is the need for improved flexibility and reconfigurability of production facilities, often provided by adoption of Industrial Robots in other manufacturing sectors. However, despite their recent technological advancements, in particular the advent of the 4th industrial revolution (Industry 4.0), and significant reduction in overall implementation cost over the last two decades, the uptake of industrial robots in food processing has been slow. This paper explores the application of industrial robots in food manufacturing, the benefits of their use and the challenges currently hindering their uptake.

    SMART authors: Shahin Rahimifard , Farah Bader

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  • Abstract

    Existing large-scale centralised food production practices are often unsustainable due to requirements for significant transportation of both raw materials and finished products. These approaches also require substantial concentrated demands on energy and water. In addition, increasing amounts of food waste are being generated worldwide by manufacturers and retailers due to their dependence on unreliable demand forecasting methods as part of centralised production practices. Regulatory pressures and policy requirements as well as consumer demands for increased variety, improved traceability, and healthy diets are forcing manufacturers and retailers to reconsider their ingredient sourcing, production, storage, and distribution strategies. “Distributed and Localised Manufacturing” (DLM) aims to provide the food sector with capabilities to improve the efficiency of production systems, to optimise logistics operations across supply chains, and to extend the shelf life of products. However, to achieve these potential benefits, the implementation of DLM will involve many challenges that need to be carefully considered and addressed. This article explores these challenges and describes four specific implementation models to aid with the development of innovative and appropriate DLM structures for various food products.

     

    Link to Loughborough University Institutional Repository:

    https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/dspace-jspui/handle/2134/28445

    SMART authors: Shahin Rahimifard , Pedro Gimenez-Escalante

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  • Abstract

    Purpose
    Resilience in agri-food supply chains (AFSCs) is an area of significant importance due to growing supply chain volatility. While the majority of research exploring supply chain resilience has originated from a supply chain management perspective, many other disciplines (such as environmental systems science and the social sciences) have also explored the topic. As complex social, economic and environmental constructs, the priority of resilience in AFSCs goes far beyond the company specific focus of supply chain management works and would conceivably benefit from including more diverse academic disciplines. However, this is hindered by inconsistencies in terminology and the conceptual components of resilience across different disciplines. The purpose of this study is to use a systematic literature review to identify which multidisciplinary aspects of resilience are applicable to AFSCs and to generate a novel AFSC resilience framework.
     
    Design/methodology/approach
    This paper uses a structured and multidisciplinary review of 137 articles in the resilience literature followed by critical analysis and synthesis of findings to generate new knowledge in the form of a novel AFSC resilience framework.
     
    Findings
    Findings indicate that the complexity of AFSCs and subsequent exposure to almost constant external interference means that disruptions cannot be seen as a one-off event; thus, resilience must concern the ability to not only maintain core function but also adapt to changing conditions.
     
    Practical implications
    A number of resilience elements can be used to enhance resilience, but their selection and implementation must be carefully matched to relevant phases of disruption and assessed on their broader supply chain impacts. In particular, the focus must be on overall impact on the ability of the supply chain as a whole to provide food security rather than to boost individual company performance.
     
    Originality/value
    The research novelty lies in the utilisation of wider understandings of resilience from various research fields to propose a rigorous and food-specific resilience framework with end consumer food security as its main focus.

    SMART authors: Shahin Rahimifard , Jamie Stone

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  • Abstract

    One of the most prominent challenges commonly acknowledged by modern manufacturing industries is ‘how to produce more with fewer resources?’ Nowhere is this more true than in the food sector due to the recent concerns regarding the long-term availability and security of food products. The unique attributes of food products such as the need for fresh perishable ingredients, health risks associated with inappropriate production environment, stringent storage and distributions requirements together with relatively short post-production shelf-life makes their preparation, production and supply considerably different to other manufactured goods. Furthermore, the impacts of climate change on our ability to produce food, the rapidly increasing global population, as well as changes in demand and dietary behaviours both within developed and developing countries urgently demands a need to change the way we grow, manufacture and consume our food products. This paper discusses a number of key research challenges facing modern food manufacturers, including improved productivity using fewer resources, valorisation of food waste, improving the resilience of food supply chains, localisation of food production, and utilisation of new sustainable sources of nutrition for provision of customised food products.

    Link to Loughborough University Repository:

    https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/24925

    SMART authors: Shahin Rahimifard , Elliot Woolley , Guillermo García García , Jamie Stone , Patrick Webb , Aicha Jellil , Sandeep Jagtap , Pedro Gimenez-Escalante

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  • Optimising Industrial Food Waste Management 2017, Procedia Manufacturing

    Abstract

    Global levels of food waste are attracting growing concern and require immediate action to mitigate their negative ecological and socio-economic ramifications. In the developed world, of the order of 20-40% of food waste is generated at the manufacturing stage of supply chains and is often managed in non-optimised ways leading to additional environmental impacts. This research describes a novel decision-support tool to enable food manufacturers to evaluate a range of waste management options and identify the most sustainable solution. A nine-stage qualitative evaluation tool is used in conjunction with a number of quantitative parameters to assess industrial food waste, which is then used to generate performance factors that enable the evaluation of economic, environmental and social implications of a range of food-waste management alternatives. The applicability of this process in a software-based decision-support tool is discussed in the context of two industrial case studies.

    Link to Loughborough University Institutional Repository:

    https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/dspace-jspui/handle/2134/23785

    SMART authors: Shahin Rahimifard , Elliot Woolley , Guillermo García García

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  • Innovative Manufacturing Technologies for Redistributed Manufacturing 2016, Food, Energy and Water Local Nexus Network

    Abstract

    This report aims to provide an overview of food technologies that could support the
    wider adoption and application of Re-Distributed Manufacturing (RDM) in the food
    sector, and has been developed as part of a series of feasibility studies under the
    umbrella of the ‘Food, Energy and Water Local Nexus Network’ (LNN) for RDM. The
    technologies include both traditional food processing technologies that could be
    reconfigured to be used in smaller scale and also a number of new emerging food
    technologies that currently may have limited commercial applications, but could
    provide significant potential in the context of RDM. These technologies are assessed
    against fourteen specifically defined criteria in order to identify their benefits and
    drawbacks for future applications of RDM.
     
    One of the main findings of this study has been that RDM, as an innovative
    production structure, necessitates further research, innovation and development
    (RID) in order to enable successful applications by food businesses. These RID
    activities could be categorised under three areas of process level, product level and
    system level innovations. In this context, a number of key research questions
    regarding future development of food technologies for small scale production
    systems are presented. Based on these, the report also presents a number of
    specific research challenges that need to be addressed in order to develop a viable
    and sustainable approach to the production of food products on smaller scales
    (redistributed) and closer to the source of consumption (localised), whilst preserving
    the safety and maintaining the quality of manufactured food.
     
    Finally, one of the main conclusions of this study is that increasing productivity,
    improving resilience and reducing waste are important considerations upon which
    the future of the UK food sector must be founded, and distributed manufacturing of
    our food products will play a vital role in the achievement of these goals.

    SMART authors: Shahin Rahimifard , Pedro Gimenez-Escalante

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  • A manufacturing approach to reducing consumer food waste 2016, Advances in Manufacturing Technology XXX: Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Manufacturing Research

    Abstract

    Globally, one third of food produced is wasted. In the UK, 47% of the food waste is post-consumer revealing a need to encourage more efficient consumption. This research asserts that manufacturers and retailers can play a crucial role in minimising consumer food waste (CFW) through consumer engagement and provision of smart solutions that ensure more efficient use of food products. Supporting manufacturers and retailers to minimise CFW can be achieved via two stages: a) understanding and evaluating CFW, and b) identifying improvements to manufacturing and retail activities that would reduce CFW. Onsite waste audits have identified that the percentage of edible CFW from domestic environments (77%) is greater than that disposed of in public areas (14%) supporting the hypothesis that improving the full food provisioning process (e.g. packaging, storage, guidance) would be beneficial. This paper proposes a number of mechanisms to support manufacturing and retail in reducing CFW.

    Link to Loughborough University Repository:

    https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/22780

    SMART authors: Shahin Rahimifard , Elliot Woolley , Guillermo García García , Aicha Jellil

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