Taking a different approach to Australia’s food waste problem

Claire Leach from Hatch BioSystems has first-hand experience in the amount of food waste generated by businesses. While working in the charity sector for a number of years, she became aware of the amount of food that couldn’t be used and went to landfill.

It was this experience that prompted her to think about potential solutions, applying for grants and doing research in the process. Looking at overseas experiences, Claire identified a process in South Africa using black soldier fly larvae to transform food waste into protein products.

So this is a full closed loop system where there is no waste and you are turning a low, often a low protein feedstock which is fruit and vegetable waste into a high protein
— Claire Leach, Hatch BioSystems 

The black soldier fly larvae can be used in stock feeds or processed to separate the fats and the protein, which can then be used as insect protein in the aquaculture and poultry industries.

In developing her business idea, Claire needed help to commercialise her idea, and turned to the Entrepreneurs’ Programme for help.

Claire was successful in gaining a grant through the Entrepreneurs’ Programme in 2017 to help her build a pilot plant. And in 2019, she received an additional grant through the program which will be used to build a processing facility and scale her operation.

Claire credits the advice and support she received from Elane Zelcer, one of the Entrepreneurs’ Programme expert business advisers, in successfully winning both government grants.

“We have a fantastic adviser from Melbourne by the name of Elane Zelcer who is an amazing adviser… She helps you understand whether you are ready for the application, what the process involves, what aspects you want to ask for funding for that the Government would be interested in and what isn’t. So you really are given a lot of great advice”

The one key lesson Claire has learnt is to be resilient. “You have to really believe in your idea, and you just have to be able to get on with it and not let people deter you”, said Claire.

With an eye on the global food waste problem, Hatch BioSystems have already had interest from overseas companies who are watching the development of its systems and processes with interest.

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