Whether you’re considering a change of career or have an interest in innovative ways to solve the global climate crisis, you could be among the swarms of Scots getting smart on insect farming thanks to events from Zero Waste Scotland this month.

Scotland’s circular economy expert organisation will run three public events on the future of food with a focus on farming insects like mealworm and black soldier fly. The events will be delivered in partnership with Dutch insect sector experts NGN, New Generation Nutrition, under the EU project ValuSect.

New European Union regulations introduced in 2017 allow farming of seven insect species which can upgrade food waste to high quality protein. A recent Zero Waste Scotland report¹ identifies insect farming as a sustainable way to produce more food using less resources – and with lucrative jobs potential to boot.

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Demand for protein is increasing, yet food systems like agriculture already take up around half of the Earth’s habitable surface. Rearing animals for food accounts for more than three quarters (77%) of that space². What’s more, food systems are behind an estimated 26% of global carbon emissions³.

Both agriculture and aquaculture – or fish farms – have worked hard to maximise sustainability in recent years, but there is still a growing need for more sustainable sources of feed proteins to reduce pressure on the environment, support biodiversity, and help fight the climate crisis. Insects could play a valuable role as an alternative feedstock for fish, poultry and pigs – while they can also be used to make pet food.

In addition, insect farming could help us add value to some of the food waste generated in Scotland. That’s because insects can be fed on surplus produce from arable farms, supermarkets and bakeries on everything from broccoli to crisps. The exoskeletons can be made into a bioplastic, the oils are a useful feed supplement, and even the manure can be used as a biofertiliser.

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Dr William Clark, a bioeconomy specialist at Zero Waste Scotland, explained:

“Insect farming could become the next big thing – a way to plug the predicted ‘protein gap’ that has real potential to bring Scotland’s carbon footprint down at the same time.

“It’s also open to everyone, from householders to smallholders, existing food producers looking to diversify to companies in the bioeconomy sector, and entrepreneurs with an eye for innovation. That’s because it doesn’t require lots of space – insect farms can range in size from a small shed or a few shipping containers to industrial scale feed mills. You need to know how to look after them but, in all cases, you can produce significant volumes of sustainable protein using a fraction of the resources.

“Insect farming is already well established all over the world. We don’t have an insect industry here yet but Scotland really is a great place to farm insects and we’ve seen lots of interest. It’s great for Scotland’s circular economy ambitions that we’re in a position to take advantage of the opportunities insect farming offers, and I would encourage anyone with an interest to sign up to the events to find out more.”

Zero Waste Scotland and NGN will host An introduction to the insect sector on Tuesday 17 November. To book a place visit http://ngn.co.nl/ukwebinar/

It will be followed by two sessions on protein production and the circular bioeconomy on Thursday 19 and 26 November. To book a place visit https://zerowastescotland.org.uk/events

All events will be free but limited and hosted online.

To find out more about sustainable protein visit the Zero Waste Scotland website.

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