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  • Published: 12 August 2022

Management of agricultural waste biomass as raw material for the construction sector: an analysis of sustainable and circular alternatives

  • Mónica Duque-Acevedo 1 , 2 ,
  • Isabella Lancellotti 3 ,
  • Fernanda Andreola 3 ,
  • Luisa Barbieri 3 ,
  • Luis J. Belmonte-Ureña 2 &
  • Francisco Camacho-Ferre 1  

Environmental Sciences Europe volume  34 , Article number:  70 ( 2022 ) Cite this article

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The agricultural and construction sectors demand enormous amounts of natural resources and generate environmental impacts that negatively affect ecosystems. One of the main problems is the generation and inadequate management of waste. For this reason, under the approaches of the new sustainable and circular models, waste valorization has been prioritised as a strategy for advancing towards the sustainability of production systems. This research aims to carry out a general analysis of Agricultural Waste Biomass (AWB) in the production of bio-based products for the construction sector. Bibliometric techniques were applied for the general analysis of the scientific production obtained from Scopus. A systematic review identified the main research approaches. In addition, European projects were reviewed to assess the practical application. This study is novel and provides relevant contributions to new trends in the valorisation of AWB in the building sector and the sustainability benefits. For policymakers, it is a source of information on the contribution of new policies to scientific advances and the aspects that need to be strengthened to improve sustainable and circular practices in both sectors.

The results show that 74% of the research has been published within the last 5 years. Regarding the main types of AWBs, rice husk ash and sugar cane bagasse ash are the most commonly used in manufacturing a wide variety of bio-based building products. Cement, concrete and bricks are the main bio-based products obtained from AWB. However, a new approach to utilisation was identified in road construction.


The findings indicate that the AWB is an important resource with great potential for the construction sector. Similarly, that policies on sustainable and circular development have driven scientific progress on new alternatives for the valorisation of AWB to improve sustainability in the construction sector. Although the practical application has also been driven through European projects, development at this level is still low. Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen partnerships between these two sectors and improve government strategies on sustainability and circularity to overcome existing constraints.

Agriculture and the construction industry are essential sectors for a country’s economic growth. Both have a significant impact on employment generation and the quality of life of the population. However, the growth and dynamics of these two sectors have made these locations large consumers of natural resources and generators of polluting emissions [ 1 , 2 ]. Over the last 5 years, there has been an accelerated increase in methane concentration in the atmosphere, mainly due to the expansion and intensification of agriculture and inadequate waste management [ 3 ]. The extraction of materials and manufacture of building products consumes enormous amounts of energy and generates between 5 and 12% of total GHGs emissions [ 1 ]. The generation and management of waste created by both industries is one of the main challenges for these sectors. It is estimated that more than 3,300 megatons of waste biomass from the main crops [ 4 ]. Thirty-five percent of total European Union (EU) waste generation is in the construction sector [ 1 ]. In many countries, the management and disposal of waste from these sectors poses a serious problem, mainly from an environmental and social point of view [ 5 , 6 ].

To address these important challenges, the 2030 Agenda included some of 15 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) some that promote sustainable and circular production and consumption (SDGs 11 and 12). Waste reduction is also one of the main targets [ 7 ]. Under the circular economy and bioeconomy (CE-CB) approach, construction and demolition waste and AWB are priority inputs with great potential for new, high value-added products [ 8 ]. The valorisation of this secondary raw material generates economic benefits. It contributes significantly to the sustainable management of natural resources, reducing dependence on non-renewable resources and negative environmental impacts [ 9 , 10 ].

Based on the above, the last 5 years have seen the development of a growing number of legal instruments and strategies promoting the manufacture of bio-based products from AWB for use in the construction sector. For example, the 2018 EU bioeconomy strategy highlights the need to substitute fossil raw materials in the construction industry. It also points out that bio-based materials contribute to the defossilisation of this industrial sector [ 4 ]. The EU's new circular economy plan, " For a cleaner and more competitive Europe " 2020, prioritises the construction and building value chain and highlights the need to introduce recycled materials in certain construction products [ 11 ]. The document " Circular Economy. Principles for Buildings Design " of 2020, guides builders in the construction value chain on the principles for the circular design of buildings. This guide points out the need to minimise the use of natural resources in building products. It calls for reused or recycled materials that offer environmental benefits and also meets the technical requirements and standards of the primary material [ 12 ].

With the aim of improving the circularity, energy efficiency and other aspects of environmental sustainability of EU products, the new proposal for an Ecodesign Regulation for sustainable products was presented in March 2022. This proposal sets out ecodesign requirements for specific product groups including those in the construction sector [ 13 ]. The revision of the Construction Products Regulation is one of the sector-specific initiatives that are part of the Sustainable Product Package. This regulation includes measures based on the Circular Economy, such as the use of recyclable materials and those produced from recycling. In addition, the prioritisation of materials with a low environmental footprint [ 1 ].

These important sustainability challenges for agriculture and the construction industry require a more significant effort from a scientific–technical point of view to identify waste valorisation alternatives, such as AWB, to produce more efficient and sustainable bio-based products. Therefore, the main objective of this research is to carry out a general analysis of the use of AWB in the production of new bio-based products for the construction sector. Specifically, this study aims to answer the following research questions: 1. What has been the evolution of the scientific production related to the valorisation of AWB in the production of bio-based products for the construction sector? (Objective 1) 2. What are the main research approaches to the type of AWB and bio-based products obtained? 3. Is sustainability a relevant aspect of the research? (Objective 2) 4. Have EC and CB policies and strategies contributed to advancing scientific production and projects on AWB valorisation in the construction industry? (Objective 3). In this paper, Agricultural Waste Biomass (AWB) includes crop residues, those resulting directly from harvesting and agro-industrial waste, obtained after crop processing. Similarly, the term biomaterial refers to materials made from biological resources. The term bio-based product is used to describe products partially derived from biomaterials. This is in line with the bioeconomy policy approaches of the European Union (EU) [ 4 , 14 ].

Previous studies have evaluated the use of some types of AWBs in the manufacture of specific bio-based products in construction. Examples include activated binders, insulation products, alternative cementitious materials in concrete, bricks, and reinforced concrete panels [ 5 , 15 , 16 , 17 , 18 , 19 , 20 , 21 , 22 , 23 , 24 , 25 , 26 , 27 , 28 , 29 , 30 , 31 , 32 , 33 , 34 , 35 , 36 ]. Other studies have analysed the feasibility of its use in specific regions [ 31 , 37 ]. However, the authors are not aware of extensive and comprehensive research on the use of AWB in the construction industry. That is the central research gap identified. This study is novel mainly because it uses a large sample that does not limit countries, publication periods, types of AWB, bio-based products, applications or other related aspects. It uses the most extensive database as a source of information, which is also considered one of the most appropriate for evaluating scientific production [ 38 ].

The contributions of this research from a theoretical and practical point of view are significant, providing relevant information on a greater variety of AWB that can be used, as well as new trends in the manufacture of bio-based products for construction. This is a valuable input for actors related to agriculture and the construction industry who will be able to learn about new alternatives for the valorisation of AWB and different types of bio-based products with multiple applications in the construction of buildings and civil works. Moreover, they will be able to identify the main advantages in terms of sustainability derived from this type of circular practice. For policymakers, it is a source of information on how sustainability policies and strategies influence scientific advances in this field.

Bibliometric analysis process

The first stage of the study consisted of analysing the main characteristics of the scientific production (90 studies from Scopus) using bibliometric techniques. The VOSviewer software, version 1.6.18, was used for the graphical representation of the data.

Systematic review process

After the general analysis, the 90 studies in the sample were analysed in detail to obtain information on the main types of AWBs, biomaterials and bio-based products, and the most evaluated properties and parameters. Limitations and improvement alternatives for bio-based products and their feasibility from an environmental, economic and social point of view were also part of the categories analysed.

Analysis of European projects

The Community Research and Development Information Service (CORDIS) database [ 39 ] was searched for projects whose main objective was the valorisation of AWB in the construction sector. Forty-six projects were obtained and reviewed to obtain the final sample. Nine projects were analysed in detail to identify: the objective, the main types of AWB, bio-based products, and the implementation period. Figure  1 shows in detail the activities that were part of each of the stages.

figure 1

Stages of methodology used

Results and discussion

Main characteristics of scientific production, types of publications and evolution of scientific production.

The studies included in Fig.  2 correspond to articles (69%), reviews (22%) and book chapters (9%). The first two articles, " New Building Materials from Industrial and Agricultural Wastes " and " Low Cost Building Materials Using Industrial and Agricultural Wastes ", were published in 1978 [ 40 , 41 ]. The last article was published in December 2021 " Development of White Brick Fuel Cell Using Rice Husk Ash Agricultural Waste for Sustainable Power Generation: A Novel Approach " [ 42 ]. A significant increase in publications is evident from 2016 onwards. This trend is similar to that of another study on the application of agricultural waste ash in cement, which showed an increase in the number of publications since 2016 [ 33 ].

figure 2

Evolution of publications on this subject per year

Of the studies analysed, 74 percent were published between 2017 and 2021. These results coincide with those of similar studies, which indicate that in the last 5 years, there has been an increase in the scientific research on the use of AWB in concrete [ 26 , 33 ]. This leads to the conclusion that the policies and strategies on sustainable development, which have become more relevant since 2015 with the 2030 Agenda, have boosted scientific research on this subject. Furthermore, it supports previous research findings that highlight the important role of the SDGs and circular economy and bioeconomy strategies on the increase of publications on AWB valorisation in the last 5 years [ 8 , 43 ].

Publications by country

India is the country with the highest number of publications (22%), followed by Malaysia (13%) and Egypt (10%). The countries shown in Fig.  3 published 84% of the publications in the sample. Other studies rank India as the country with the third-highest number of publications on agro-waste in concrete production [ 26 , 33 ]. These results align with a previous study that analysed AWB valorisation alternatives and identified India as one of the countries with the highest scientific production on the subject [ 43 ]. China and India are two of the world's leading producers and consumers of cement. India's cement production increased significantly in 2017 compared to 2016 [ 25 ]. In addition, these two countries have focused their bioeconomy policies on industrial and high-tech innovation [ 43 ].

figure 3

Number of publications by country

In Malaysia, the construction sector is of great importance and has seen significant growth in recent years [ 44 , 45 ]. Similarly, the regulations governing the construction industry in this country promote sustainable and environmentally friendly construction [ 46 , 47 ]. Furthermore, the government prioritises this type of construction in its “ Green Public Procurement (GPP) ” guidelines [ 45 ]. For example, it encourages the use of organic fiber in the cladding materials of public buildings [ 48 ]. This could be a reason for the particular interest of these countries in the use of AWB as a sustainable raw material for the construction sector.

Keyword analysis

The co-occurrence of the keywords network was made using all keywords as analysis unit (author keywords and index keywords). Terms that are part of the search equation were excluded from the VOSviewer keyword list. The keyword network (Fig.  4 ) groups 41 terms in 5 clusters. Cluster 1 (red) is the central cluster with 13 items. The most relevant terms in this cluster are “ compressive strength ”, “ water absorption ”, “ mechanical properties ”, “ thermal conductivity ”, and “ thermal insulation ”. These descriptors reflect the importance given by the studies to the analysis of the physical, mechanical and thermal properties of AWB and the bio-based products obtained from its use. This cluster also includes " rice husk ash " as the main type of by-product obtained from rice husks’ incineration and widely used to manufacture sustainable building materials [ 49 , 50 , 51 ].

figure 4

Keyword network based on co-occurrence

India is one of the world's leading producers and consumers of rice [ 34 , 52 ], which also explains the country's interest in valorising this type of AWB. Cluster 2 (green) groups 11 items, mainly related to biomaterials and bio-based products obtained from AWB. For example, " supplementary cementitious mat ", " cements ", " binders ", and " concrete ". Similarly, this cluster highlights the term " silica " as one of the main components of AWB ashes and is of particular interest in manufacturing bio-based products [ 19 , 33 , 53 , 54 ].

Cluster 3 (blue) consists of 8 items, including " sustainable development ", " sustainability ", " recycling ", " waste disposal " and " developing countries ". These descriptors are associated with the main benefits that can be derived from the use of AWB in the construction sector. Cluster 4 (yellow), with eight items, integrates the word " straw " as another main type of AWB used in the construction sector, mainly in the form of " fibers " because of its high " cellulose " content, which makes it an ideal by-product for the “ reinforcement ” of building materials [ 55 , 56 , 57 ]. The keyword " bagasse " forms cluster 5 (purple). This term refers to the by-product of the extraction of sugar cane juice [ 54 ]. The ash obtained from the burning of this sugar cane bagasse has important qualities that improve the properties of different building materials [ 50 , 51 , 54 ]. India is the second-largest producer of sugar cane after Brazil [ 16 ]. This also suggests a correlation with the number of studies corresponding to this country.

Main approaches to scientific production—systematic review

Type of agricultural waste biomass used and main form of by-products.

Figure  5 shows the main types of AWBs assessed in the investigations. A total of 32 AWB types were identified. Forty-eight percent of the studies used rice husk, and thirty-four percent used sugar cane bagasse. These are the two main AWBs generated in the highest volumes worldwide [ 34 , 50 ]. In the investigations, straw from cereal crops was the third most analysed type of AWB (28%). The main type of cereal crop from which the straw is derived is wheat (65%), followed by rice (50%). To a lesser extent, barley, sorghum, rye and oats was studied. Another study analysing approaches and alternatives for AWB utilisation identified cereal straw as the most relevant, mainly from wheat and maize [ 43 ].

figure 5

Main types and forms of AWB used

Coconut husk is also one of the main types of AWB used in the research (24%). To a lesser extent, maize cob (20%) and oil palm (18%) and maize husk (6%) were identified as relevant. A further 24 types of AWB were used, including; cork, banana and pineapple leaves and/or peels, maize, soybean and cotton stalks, pomace and/or oil mill residues and coffee husks, nuts, cassava and grape sprouts, among others. The vast majority of crop parts (leaves, stems, fruits, seeds, sprouts) are used to manufacture new bio-based products. Contrary to [ 21 ], it is evident that more than half of the studies in the sample used more than one type of AWB [ 16 , 58 , 59 , 60 , 61 , 62 ]. This was possibly to improve the properties of the final products [ 63 ].

Rice husks and straw, wheat straw, maize stalks and cob, and coconut husks were the main types of AWB used as raw materials in the first investigations in 1978 [ 40 , 41 ]. Regarding the main form in which this type of AWB is used, it was found that more than half of the studies in the sample (55%) used it in form of ash. Twenty-nine percent used this biomass in the form of fiber. Other forms identified were granules and/or small particulate shredded material (20%). Most of the studies analysed the physical, chemical, thermal and other properties of the by-products (ash, fibers and AWB particles). This was mainly to characterise them, evaluate their potential, determine the best alternatives for their use and/or define optimum substitution percentages [ 19 , 55 , 56 , 64 ].

The main parameters evaluated were; specific gravity, surface area, bulk density, particle size and fineness, water absorption, porosity, microstructure, and thickness [ 5 , 18 , 24 , 26 , 27 , 28 , 29 , 33 , 35 , 62 , 65 , 66 , 67 ]. Concerning chemical properties, they analysed the cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin content. Similarly, percentages of Loss on Ignition (LOI) and chemical components, such as SiO 2 , Al 2 O 3 , CaO, Fe 2 O 3 , Na 2 O, P 2 O5, MgO, MnO, K 2 O [ 6 , 16 , 17 , 18 , 19 , 20 , 25 , 26 , 27 , 28 , 29 , 35 , 50 , 52 , 53 , 55 , 56 , 60 , 62 , 68 , 69 , 70 , 71 , 72 , 73 , 74 , 75 , 76 , 77 , 78 , 79 , 80 , 81 ]. Other main properties evaluated were thermal conductivity, microstructure and sound absorption [ 5 , 18 , 21 , 22 , 26 , 28 , 33 , 60 , 65 , 74 , 82 ].

Main biomaterials

Fifty-one percent of the research focuses on obtaining bindings, aggregates and/or additives in soil, cement and/or concrete. Supplementary Cementitious Materials (SCMs) are the most studied in this first category. Seventy percent of the research evaluated the potential use of AWBs as an alternative material for the total and/or partial replacement of cement in concrete [ 6 , 15 , 17 , 18 , 19 , 24 , 25 , 26 , 27 , 33 , 34 , 35 , 40 , 50 , 52 , 54 , 59 , 62 , 64 , 68 , 71 , 72 , 73 , 74 , 75 , 83 , 84 , 85 , 86 , 87 , 88 ]. The relevance of this type of biomaterials is also reflected in their evolution. From 1978 to the present day, they have been studied as an alternative for the valorisation of AWB in the construction sector. One of the first biomaterials obtained from agricultural waste by the Central Building Research Institute in India in 1978 were pozzolanic reaction additives for cement production. Contrary to [ 84 ] and in line with the findings of [ 24 ], there is a large and long-standing field of research in AWB-based SCMs for use in concrete production.

In this same category, 24% of the studies in the period 2004 to 2021 used AWBs as a total and/or partial substitute material for conventional fine and/or coarse aggregates in concrete [ 21 , 28 , 29 , 36 , 66 , 67 , 83 , 89 , 90 , 91 , 92 ]. A smaller percentage (3%), between 2019 and 2021, analysed the potential of AWBs as additives and/or aggregates for soil stabilisation and/or improvement of geotechnical properties [ 69 , 70 , 93 ]. Other studies used a similar classification for the categories of use of agricultural residues in concrete [ 15 , 66 ]. The second category integrates the studies (22%) that evaluated the use of AWBs as biomaterials for brick production. According to the number of studies and the publication period (1978–2021), this is the second most common type of AWB used in the construction sector.

The third category (20%) integrates studies that evaluated materials and/or bio-composites for specific use in structural and/or reinforcement applications. The composite materials mentioned in most of the studies in this category are made from a mixture of plastic polymers and natural fibers [ 14 ]. Ten percent of the research in the period 2013 to 2021 analysed AWBs as specific materials for thermal and/or acoustic insulation of buildings (category 4). A smaller percentage (4%), category 5, grouped more recent studies (2016–2021). These studies evaluated the potential use of AWBs as a full and/or partial substitute for traditional asphalt binders and/or aggregates used in road construction. In 1978, agricultural residues were also used as substitutes for hydraulic components in bricks and other products, such as boards and panels without synthetic binders. Some of these biomaterials were incorporated into walls and shade roofs for livestock [ 40 , 41 ].

Main bio-based products

Table 1 summarises the main bio-based products evaluated by the sample studies. These bio-based products were manufactured from mixtures of the above biomaterials with other types of waste and/or materials. For example; bamboo fiber and leaves [ 27 , 33 , 60 , 75 ], bauxite process wastes [ 63 ], sheep wool [ 61 ], fluid catalytic cracking residue, ceramic sanitary ware, waste from beer filtration [ 68 ], construction demolition waste (C&DW) [ 51 , 69 ], granulated tires [ 58 , 94 ], glass powder/fiber [ 62 , 95 ], sawdust [ 15 , 19 , 29 , 40 , 53 ], wood [ 17 , 19 , 27 , 85 , 86 ], sunflower stalks and seed [ 91 , 96 ], egg shell powder [ 93 ], cow dung [ 23 ], reclaimed asphalt pavement, reclaimed asphalt shingles [ 94 ], water treatment plant sludge [ 79 , 97 ], and recycled plastics [ 98 ].

Materials traditionally used in the construction sector, such as lime, sand, and Portland Cement, were also used to prepare the mixtures from which the bio-based products in Table 1 were obtained [ 6 , 50 , 69 , 70 , 71 , 74 , 90 , 91 ]. This extensive listing of each category highlights the wide variety of bio-based products in which AWBs can be used. Furthermore, the diversity of industrial and/or other wastes with which they can be combined further enhances the overall waste valorisation.

Most of these bio-based products have traditionally been used in the construction sector, especially in categories 1 and 2. However, it is noticeable how the terminology has evolved in recent years. The most recent research refers to agro-concrete/cement, agro/bricks, sustainable cement/concrete, sustainable bricks, green concrete, ecological concrete, eco-friendly bricks, thermally efficient bricks, zero cement concrete, sustainable bio-modified asphalt, sustainable green highways [ 18 , 26 , 50 , 54 , 63 , 67 , 77 , 91 , 100 ]. These new concepts align with recent policy approaches on sustainable development and, more specifically, with the circular economy and bioeconomy [ 4 , 11 ].

In addition, novel uses and futuristic bio-based products for the construction sector are evident. For example, bricks made from rice husk ash can be used as an alternative sustainable energy source [ 42 ]. Category 3 integrates an extensive and varied list of bio-based products, demonstrating the potential of AWB for use as a biopolymer in various applications in the construction sector [ 108 ]. Furthermore, 78 percent of the studies in this category have been published in the last 5 years, confirming the important evolution and relevance of bio-composites for structural and/or reinforcement applications. Bio-based products for buildings' thermal and/or acoustic insulation have mainly been analysed in the last 4 years.

Bio-based products in category 5 are entirely novel. A few recent, related pieces of research show that it is an emerging approach. This is also an indicator of important new alternatives that may emerge for the valorisation of AWBs as high value-added biomaterials. In this category are also terms from new models of sustainable development, such as "Sustainable bio-modified asphalt" [ 80 ]. Furthermore, they refer to using these bio-based products to construct sustainable greenways [ 114 ]. Other studies identified biomaterials and/or bio-based products similar to those in Table 1 , mainly from categories 1 to 4 [ 15 , 21 ]. However, none of them includes those used for road construction.

The influence of AWBs on the properties of bio-based products depends on their characteristics, the processes they undergo and the proportions in which they are mixed with other materials, among other aspects [ 33 , 92 ]. Therefore, most of the studies in the sample analysed considers physical, chemical, mechanical and other properties of the bio-based products. This was to identify the effects of AWBs and determine compliance with the standards of the regulations governing the quality of building materials [ 90 ]. Table 2 summarises the main parameters evaluated for each of the properties.

In line with the findings of other studies, it was identified that the main tests bio-based products were subjected to are compressive strength, density and water absorption [ 5 , 25 , 100 ]. Compliance with these parameters is essential to guarantee the obtained bio-based products' quality, longevity, and durability [ 26 , 29 , 100 , 101 , 102 ].

Main types and properties of AWBs used by category

Rice husk and sugarcane bagasse are two of the main types of AWB used as biomaterials for the production of cement, concrete and bricks. The main form in which this biomass is used is ash, followed by a smaller percentage of fiber. These findings are in line with other researchers that highlighted rice husk ash and sugar cane bagasse as the most studied alternative materials used in building materials, mainly in the concrete industry [ 18 , 21 , 26 , 29 , 33 , 35 , 86 ]. Table 3 summarises the three main types of AWBs that are used for each category. It also highlights the most relevant aspects that impact the improvement of the properties of the bio-based products obtained.

A study analysing the use of industrial and agricultural wastes in cement identified general properties and applications of AWBs similar to those of category 1 [ 35 ]. Of the three types of AWB prioritised for each category according to the number of studies that have used them, it is evident that rice husk ash is the most versatile type of waste that can be used in all applications in each category. One of the first researches from 1978 highlights rice husk as a highly reactive pozzolanic material, which makes it a good alternative for producing new cementitious materials [ 40 ].

Several studies indicate that the main component of agricultural residue ash is silica [ 19 , 33 , 53 ]. However, some of them point out that silica in rice husk ash and bagasse ash is significantly higher (between 60 and 95%) [ 24 , 26 , 49 , 54 , 86 , 92 ]. In turn, the pozzolanic nature of these ashes [ 71 ] makes them efficient biomaterials for improving the physical, mechanical and thermal properties of bio-based products. Among them: strength, durability, workability, porosity, thermal conductivity, and other properties that are highlighted for each type of biomaterials in Table 3 .

Cereal straw fibres have significant use in the production of bricks and biomaterials used as fillers in polymeric matrices for structural reinforcement (increased strength and stiffness) and thermal and/or acoustic insulation [ 55 , 56 , 57 , 82 , 95 , 99 , 107 , 109 , 110 , 111 ]. Fiber length and width affect bio-based products' physical, mechanical, and thermal properties [ 56 , 109 , 111 ]. In the manufacture of bio-composites, these fibres replace all or part of the wood [ 56 , 110 ]. Coconut husks are another by-product with great potential due to their high natural fiber content [ 56 ]. A study identified coconut and rice husks as one of the main AWBs used to produce biopolymers for construction applications [ 20 ]. In line with the findings of other studies, it is evident that fibrous AWBs such as rice husks, cereal straw and bagasse are suitable for thermal and acoustic insulation applications [ 21 , 37 , 65 ].

Some of the research in the sample does not specifically highlight additional positive effects on bio-based products resulting from AWBs. However, most of them confirm that the use of AWBs to manufacture bio-based products is technically feasible from a technical point of view. Mainly because these bio-based products meet the properties and performance requirements for building materials. In addition, they are similar to commercial products and conform to regulatory specifications [ 5 , 18 , 26 , 28 , 66 , 67 , 68 , 75 , 79 ]. On the other hand, concerning the properties of bio-based products, most studies emphasise that a generalised substitution of AWBs is not possible. Therefore, it is essential to achieve mixture compositions with optimal AWB substitution percentages [ 33 , 49 , 54 , 64 , 86 , 105 ].

To improve the properties and/or guarantee the performance of most of the bio-based products in Table 1 , studies suggest substitution percentages between 5 and 15% by weight of AWBs [ 6 , 16 , 18 , 19 , 21 , 25 , 33 , 50 , 51 , 53 , 66 , 69 , 77 , 90 , 100 , 103 , 115 ]. These findings align with a study that identified similar percentages, between 5 and 10% AWB for fired clay bricks [ 100 ]. Several studies in the sample identified that higher substitution levels could generate counter (negative) effects on bio-based products' properties and/or performance [ 19 , 25 , 53 , 67 ]. However, higher percentages of AWB (30–50% of oil palm shell) were suggested for the construction of roads with medium and/or low traffic [ 114 ]. In addition, in other applications used to improve the thermal performance of buildings (21–63%) [ 23 , 58 ]. On the other hand, lower AWB percentages (2–4%) were considered for soil stabilisation [ 70 , 93 ].

Main limitations and/or disadvantages of the use of AWB in bio-based products

As indicated in Table 4 , several of the studies analysed point out some limitations and/or disadvantages derived from the use of AWBs as biomaterials for the production of bio-based products. Increased water absorption and reduced workability are some of the main disadvantages identified [ 15 , 53 , 92 , 113 ]. Some of the limitations and/or disadvantages in Table 4 coincide with those identified by other studies that analysed them for specific applications, such as thermal and acoustic insulation [ 22 , 32 ].

On the other hand, most of the studies in Table 4 also identified mechanisms to avoid and/or reduce the negative effects of AWBs on bio-based products. Applying appropriate processing methods including both pre-and/or additional treatment processes is crucial. These include immersion of fibers and/or ashes in chemicals, cooking, drying, filtering and/or screening [ 26 , 33 , 91 , 106 , 109 , 111 , 113 ]. Some research has also suggested the incorporation of other types of materials and/or micro-organisms [ 19 , 25 , 72 ]. In line with the approaches of [ 21 ], the findings of this study confirm that the indicated pretreatments and/or additional processes are necessary under certain circumstances and/or for certain types of biomaterials or bio-based products. A wide variety of biomaterials and bio-based products (Table 1 ) can be obtained through direct utilisation or minimal transformation processes.

These identified corrective actions and/or improvement alternatives (Table 4 ) reinforce the approach on the feasibility of using AWB as a biomaterial for the production of bio-based products. However, it is important to consider that some of the studies in the sample suggest that further research is needed to improve the utilisation of AWB, understand its influence on bio-based products and ensure its application in large-scale structures [ 24 , 25 , 26 , 29 , 33 , 67 , 73 , 95 ].

Feasibility of the use of bio-based products

Table 5 shows the main aspects highlighted by the sample studies for each dimension of sustainability. The environmental dimension is the most relevant. More than sixty percent of the analysed studies highlight, in a general and/or specific way, contributions towards the improvement of the environment derived from the use of AWBs in the construction sector. Positive impacts on air, soil and water resources are comprehensively listed in Table 5 . Among the main benefits mentioned are reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and global warming [ 24 , 25 , 52 , 54 , 68 , 83 , 86 , 91 , 104 ]. Similarly, aspects related to the efficient management of AWB, such as volume reduction, recycling, recovery, reduction of landfills and open burning [ 5 , 33 , 63 , 77 , 85 , 101 ]. Reducing energy consumption and increasing energy efficiency is another environmental highlight [ 5 , 55 , 58 , 77 , 104 ]. On the other hand, some of the studies refer to the green economy and the circular economy as basic strategies, which are also supported and/or promoted by the valorisation of AWB in the building sector [ 27 , 58 , 75 , 86 ].

Second, economic aspects were also analysed in the research. Some studies carried out profitability analyses and/or technical/economic feasibility studies [ 18 , 73 , 81 , 106 ]. These analyses indicate that the manufacture of bio-based products is cost-effective and they can be suitable products to compete in the market. Furthermore, their use reduces the cost of construction. A key aspect they highlight to make costs feasible is using local AWB to reduce pre-treatment and/or transport costs [ 18 , 73 ]. This aspect contributes to the socio-economic viability of bio-based products [ 104 ]. Although they do not perform this analysis, other studies highlight that bio-based products made from AWB help the obtainment of economic benefits derived from reducing the cost of biomaterials, structures and/or construction in general [ 15 , 63 , 77 , 85 , 100 , 101 ].

The findings for this economic dimension confirm the theorisation of a study that analysed the use of AWB in concrete production [ 18 ]. This concerns the low number of studies that have conducted economic analyses to estimate the costs of producing bio-based products from AWBs and determine their feasibility. However, this study adds new evidence that this type of analysis has been conducted for various AWBs. For example, in addition to rice husk ash, as indicated by [ 18 ], costs have been evaluated for the use of coconut husk [ 73 ], sugarcane bagasse [ 81 ] and pineapple leaf fibers [ 106 ]. However, given the large variety of AWB types identified (32 types); it is evident that a low percentage has been evaluated from an economic point of view. This could be one of the key factors necessary to boost bio-based products' application and commercialisation. So far, as derived from the findings of this study have mainly been developed at an experimental level. One study points out that some bio-based products used for insulation are in their early stages of development and will still have a long way to go before reaching the market [ 22 ].

A smaller percentage of the publications (11%) highlight some aspects related to the social dimension. Mainly, the reduction of housing and infrastructure costs in rural areas and/or developing countries [ 86 , 89 , 99 , 114 ], the creation of new jobs [ 22 , 104 ], among other aspects associated with the health and well-being of the population. One of the publications from 1978 already pointed out that the use of AWB in the manufacture of building materials contributed to solving waste disposal problems and reducing the costs of transporting materials. It also generated savings in production costs and energy consumption [ 40 ]. This broad analysis of contributions for all dimensions reinforces the theorisation of this first publication. It indicates the relevance that the integration of environmental and social aspects as pillars of sustainable development has gained in research. However, it is essential that such studies include broader feasibility analyses, integrating all dimensions (economic, social and environmental) from local contexts.

Furthermore, these findings coincide with the findings of other studies regarding the potential of AWBs for the production of bio-based products and their contribution to sustainability [ 21 , 52 , 104 ]. Although this suggests positive aspects in advancing the application of bio-based products on an industrial scale, it is important to bear in mind some considerations. For example, identifying and quantifying locally available agricultural residues is key. This is to ensure that there are no supply constraints [ 22 , 26 , 75 ].

European Union projects

Table 6 summarises the projects related to the valorisation of AWB in the construction sector. Of these projects, 67% were financed by the first EU framework programme for research and innovation—Horizon 2020. The oldest project, dating back to 1994, was carried out with the " Research and Technological Development in the Field of Industrial and Materials Technologies FP3-CRAFT (1990–1994) " programme. This project used straw and husks to obtain mineral binders [ 116 ]. The second older project carried out between 2004 and 2007 was part of the EU's " Focusing and Integrating Community Research " programme (2002–2006). Rice straw was also one of the main inputs for this project, which produced composites for structural components as a bio-based product [ 117 ]. The SYNPOL project, which produced biopolymers from rice straw, was part of the FP7-KBBE programme " Cooperation: Food, Agriculture and Biotechnology " [ 118 ].

In general, straw is the most commonly used type of AWB for producing bio-based products, such as cement, wooden boards, thermoplastic adhesive, biopolymers and composites. However, in line with the findings of the research analysed, it is evident that these projects have used different types of AWB in recent years, which confirms their potential for obtaining high added-value products. All the applications of AWBs prioritised by the projects are similar to those identified in the research analysed. The focus on the production of biopolymers and bio-composites confirms that this type of AWB application has become more relevant in the construction sector in recent years. This makes sense considering that it has been one of the fastest evolving areas of the bioeconomy [ 9 ].

Other projects identified in the CORDIS database obtained eco-sustainable concretes from other types of waste, such as plastic, electrical and electronic equipment, municipal solid waste and pneumatic components [ 119 , 120 ]. They also made ceramics from the sludge from wastewater treatment [ 121 ]. Most of the projects in Table 6 address all three pillars of sustainability. They emphasise that from an environmental point of view, there are benefits associated with improved energy consumption, waste reduction and reduction of CO2 emissions [ 116 , 122 , 123 ]. Similarly, the creation of new jobs in the bio-based products sector and the improvement of industrial competitiveness [ 122 ]. Economic benefits are derived from the reduced costs of new bio-based products [ 116 ]. This is in line with the approaches of the European bioeconomy strategy [ 4 ].

Besides the manufacturing of bio-based products, some of the projects in Table 6 include market potential analysis, marketing improvement strategies, and other activities aimed at improving the information on technical aspects of bio-based products to boost and/or enhance their market share [ 122 , 123 , 124 ]. The opening of bio-based markets through educational tools and campaigns aimed at improving knowledge and increasing public acceptance of bio-based products was also one of the objectives of the projects [ 125 , 126 ]. This is a crucial aspect in advancing the application of bio-based products on an industrial scale.

Furthermore, the EU encourages synergies between European and Indian research programmes dedicated to biowaste conversion and biomass production through such projects [ 127 ]. Sixty-seven percent of the projects were implemented in 2016–2021, indicating that the Horizon 2020 programme (2014–2020) prioritised the deployment of projects focused on bio-based alternatives to improve the sustainability of building products. This is to some extent, because this research and innovation framework programme is the primary source of funding for the bioeconomy in Europe [ 128 ]. Some of the projects are specifically framed within the action line "Societal challenges" of the Horizon 2020 programme, which prioritises sustainable agriculture and the bioeconomy. In general, these projects highlight the contributions of the bio-based construction sector to the consolidation of the European circular economy and bioeconomy.

These two models have become essential axes for sustainable development in Europe. For 2021–2024, the EU has included the bioeconomy among the vital strategic orientations for research and innovation (Horizon Europe) [ 133 ]. This represents an opportunity to further strengthen the bio-based construction sector, especially in the production of bio-based products from AWB and improve the market's functioning for these products [ 134 ]. The circular approach of the bioeconomy has demanded new lines of research on biomass valorisation alternatives in the construction sector. This has increased the number of studies and projects on this subject in the last 5 years. The resources that have been allocated through projects have been and will continue to be vital to the application and consolidation of the circular economy and bioeconomy as the primary strategy for sustainable development.

Regarding the first research question, the findings allow us to conclude that a great variety of AWB has been studied for more than 40 years as a secondary raw material for obtaining biomaterials and/or bio-based products with multiple applications in the construction of buildings and civil works. However, in the last 5 years, there has been an increase in publications. India is the country that leads the ranking of research on this subject basically, because it is one of the leading producers and consumers of cement and the second-largest producer of rice and sugar cane in the world. Concerning the second research question, the residues of these two crops, mainly rice husk and sugar cane bagasse, are the two most commonly used types of AWB (in the form of ash) in the manufacture of a wide variety of bio-based products for construction.

Rice husk ash has been the most studied type of waste, since 1978, mainly because of its versatility for multiple applications. However, its use has historically been prioritised in cement and/or concrete production. The latter, together with bricks, are the types of bio-based products most analysed by research. The results also show that bio-composites for structural applications and bio-based products for thermal and/or acoustic insulation have gained more relevance in recent years as an alternative for the valorisation of AWB. The findings also point to a novel and emerging approach for utilising AWB in road construction. This confirms the potential of this type of biomass as input for obtaining a wide variety of bio-based products with multiple uses in the construction industry.

Concerning the third research question, the new names of bio-based products related to sustainability and the analysis of the dimensions that comprise it guide the importance of this concept in research. The studies highlight relevant contributions from an economic, environmental and social point of view, which indicates that they are based on the approaches of the new policy framework on sustainable development. This, regarding the fourth research question, shows that under the approaches of this policy framework, especially the Circular Economy and Bioeconomy, agriculture and the construction industry are vital sectors and major allies for sustainability. It is also evident that the prioritisation of AWB as a secondary raw material has promoted more significant scientific progress. This is because it is necessary to identify more and better valorisation alternatives to improve the sustainability of construction products. The increase of projects with this approach has also allowed further progress in the practical application of these alternatives. However, the findings allow us to conclude that the application of bio-based products on an industrial scale is still low in relation to scientific advances. In this sense, it is hoped that new governmental strategies on sustainability and circularity will contribute to overcoming the limitations faced by this type of bio-based product from their manufacture to their launch on the market.

With respect to the limitations of this research, it is important to highlight that the search equation includes the most common and general terms on the subject, which possibly excludes studies that have used more specific terms. Similarly, the projects analysed are obtained from a single data source, which, although representative at the European level, does not include all the projects that have been developed through other sources of funding and/or in other countries. Therefore, future research could focus on the analysis of other data sources to evaluate the practical application of bio-based products obtained from AWB more extensively. Similarly, as a line of research, the findings suggest that further studies, including cost analyses of the production of bio-based products from AWB, are needed to determine their cost-effectiveness and/or technical/economic feasibility. In the same vein, other studies could include broader feasibility analyses, incorporating economic, environmental and social dimensions.

Availability of data and materials

The data sets used and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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The authors would like to thank the University of Almeria for a predoctoral contract issued by the university in 2018. We are also grateful for the support provided by Unimore Università degli studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia (Italy) to Mónica Duque-Acevedo during her research stay between February and May 2022.

This research was funded by the University of Almería (AGR-200), Almería, Spain.

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Conceptualization, MD-A, IL, FA, LB, LJB-U. and FC-F.; Data collection, MD-A.; Formal analysis, MD-A, IL, FA, LB, LJB-U and FC-F; Methodology, MD-A, IL, FA, LB, LJB-U and FC-F; Software, MD-A; Validation, MD-A, IL, FA, LB, LJB-U and FC-F; Investigation, MD-A, IL, FA, LB, LJB-U and FC-F.; Resources, FC-F; Writing—original draft preparation, MD-A.; Writing—review and editing, IL, FA, LB, LJB-U and FC-F; Visualization, MD-A; Supervision, IL, FA, LB, LJB-U and FC-F. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Duque-Acevedo, M., Lancellotti, I., Andreola, F. et al. Management of agricultural waste biomass as raw material for the construction sector: an analysis of sustainable and circular alternatives. Environ Sci Eur 34 , 70 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12302-022-00655-7

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  • Published: 04 May 2024

Effective food waste management model for the sustainable agricultural food supply chain

  • Yuanita Handayati 1   na1 &
  • Chryshella Widyanata 1   na1  

Scientific Reports volume  14 , Article number:  10290 ( 2024 ) Cite this article

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The extensive research examines the current state of agricultural food supply chains, with focus on waste management in Bandung Regency, Indonesia. The study reveals that a significant proportion of food within the agricultural supply chain goes to waste and discusses the various challenges and complexities involved in managing food waste. The research presents a conceptual model based on the ADKAR change management paradigm to promote waste utilization, increase awareness and change people's behaviors. The model emphasizes the importance of creating awareness, fostering desire, providing knowledge, implementing changes, and reinforcing and monitoring the transformation process. It also addresses the challenges, barriers, and drivers that influence waste utilization in the agricultural supply chain, highlighting the need for economic incentives and a shift in public awareness to drive meaningful change. Ultimately, this study serves as a comprehensive exploration of food waste management in Bandung Regency, shedding light on the complexities of the issue and offering a systematic approach to transition towards more sustainable waste utilization practices.

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The food industry comprises roughly 30% of the world’s total energy consumption, and when there is food loss and waste, the resources invested in food production go to waste 1 . Consequently, this contributes to the depletion of natural resources. Additionally, approximately 22% of greenhouse gas emissions, which have adverse environmental effects and contribute to global warming, originate from these food sectors 2 , 3 . To address this challenge, the United Nations has integrated the problem of food wastage into the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, specifically under Sustainable Development Goal 12, which focuses on promoting responsible consumption and production. Sustainable Development Goal 12 serves as a pivotal initiative to steer away from irresponsible resource utilization and mitigate harmful effects on the planet.

Food waste management can be categorized into two main approaches: preventing the generation of waste and handling waste that has already been produced 4 . The strategies for implementing food waste management vary depending on the underlying causes of each specific food waste scenario. This is because food loss and waste can manifest differently and require distinct treatments or solutions, occurring at various stages of the supply chain, ranging from production upstream to consumption downstream 5 . Efforts to address these issues can also be observed within different stages of the supply chain. For instance, at the production stage, optimization of production factors, such as infrastructure improvements 6 or the use of forecasting to prevent overproduction 7 is emphasized. In the distribution stage, enhancing efficiency in the distribution process can be achieved by shortening the supply chain 8 or by fostering coordination among supply chain participants 9 , 10 . Similarly, at the consumption stage, efforts often focus on enhancing supply chain processes to increase efficiency by utilizing waste to create more valuable product, ultimately reducing waste, which is commonly referred to as waste prevention.

Many nations worldwide have embraced the United Nations' objectives of minimizing food waste and promoting sustainability, demonstrating a collective dedication to addressing crucial environmental and social issues. The UN's Sustainable Development Goal 12 emphasizes the importance of curbing food waste across supply chains. This has spurred countries to take tangible steps and enforce policies aimed at reducing food waste 11 . For instance, the European Union (EU) has committed to ambitious targets outlined in its Circular Economy Action Plan to slash food waste by 2030. Strategies such as standardized date labeling, awareness campaigns, and support for surplus food donation align with the UN's sustainability agenda. Similarly, nations like South Korea have implemented innovative approaches, including pricing based on waste volume, mandatory food waste separation, and promoting the conversion of food waste into compost or biogas. These initiatives not only resonate with sustainability goals but also contribute to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.

Furthermore, scholarly research available in publications such as "Resources, Conservation & Recycling" and "Waste Management" investigates the impact of diverse national policies on food waste reduction and sustainability. These studies analyze the effectiveness of specific interventions and offer insights into successful strategies adopted by different countries. By citing these examples and research outcomes, one can illustrate how nations are actively aligning themselves with the UN's aims of reducing food waste and promoting sustainability through a combination of policy frameworks and practical implementations.

In relation to that, food waste pre-treatment technologies have also been extensively developed to reduce the carbon loss as Carbon dioxide during storage/transport; improve the surface properties for easier access to microbes; (reduce the accumulation of volatile fatty acids at early stages or during storage and transport; and alter biological properties to support microbiomes from anaerobic digestion / dark fermentation 15 , 16 . This pre-treatment can be carried out either through physical and mechanical pre-treatments, Thermal pre-treatment, Chemical pre-treatment and Biological pre-treatment 16 . Nevertheless, landfilling of food waste is a very common disposal method in developing countries e.g., India, China, Thailand, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, etc. It is due to their national budget for waste management. Due to insufficient funding for recycling, some developing nations have attempted to introduce a system for managing food waste in their legislative frameworks. However, budgeting remains a significant problem in developing countries for handling waste 17 , 18 .

Indonesia faces significant food waste issue, with food waste accounting for 28.6% of total waste. To address this problem, the government has outlined plans in its 2020–2024 National Mid-Term Development Plan to reduce waste by up to 80% 19 , including food waste. The Ministry of Agriculture’s Strategic Plan for 2020–2024 and The Indonesia Food Sustainable System 2019 further emphasize efforts to combat food waste by following decentralized approach, giving local goverments the authority to manage related issue. This approach encourages collaboration among all stakeholders, both nationally and locally 20 . Notably, the Bandung Regency government is one local authority actively addressing food waste. 20 2019 To address this issue, Development Agency at Sub National Level is actively working on establishing a more sustainable food supply chain for the implementation in Bandung Regency. In the context of advancing food security in Bandung Regency, the government’s strategy consists of five core concepts, encompassing food supply chain efficiency, connectivity, price regulation, logistics cost reduction, enhanced production capacity, and sustainability. This sustainability aspect also encompasses initiatives related to waste processing, as outlined by Bappeda Kabupaten Bandung 21 . The latest attempt in developing a sustainable supply chain in Bandung Regency is the establishment of a food hub is an endeavor by the government to build a more efficient supply chain, which is described as an aggregator capable of integrating all parties involved, acting as a logistical service provider, marketing, agricultural product added-value development, and information hub 22 .

23 When considering the five key concepts for enhancing food security in Bandung Regency, the establishment of the food hub addresses four of these concepts, primarily focusing on waste prevention. However, there is a notable absence of detailed research or government reports that specifically address the fifth concept, which pertains to sustainability and effective management of existing food waste. As previously mentioned, one of the primary contributors to the increasing waste issue is the lack of proper handling of generated waste. Furthermore, the linear economy approach, which categorizes all unused products as waste, exacerbates the problem. Additionally, the growing population is a factor leading to increased waste, while the landfill capacity remains limited. Hence, while waste prevention is crucial, there's still a pressing need for well-planned food waste management, particularly in terms of waste utilization because waste can be utilized wisely to make it more valuable 23 . To optimize waste utilization, it is imperative to develop a comprehensive waste management strategy to avoid the oversight of waste reduction 24 . This strategic planning encompasses the crucial step of waste identification, involving the collection of data regarding the types of waste, the locations where waste is generated, and potential methods for waste utilization 19 , 24 . Understanding the composition and sources of waste will greatly facilitate effective waste management 25 .

Currently, there is no available data or research on food waste management in the Bandung Regency's Food Supply Chain. This study aims to address this gap by identifying food waste in the region's supply chain, with the goal of promoting the development of a more sustainable food supply chain. Therefore, this study aims to develop effective food waste management that can be implemented in Bandung Regency’s food supply chain. In addition, study by Nattassha et al. 26 emphasized the importance of integrating waste management actors, including scavengers, sorters, and processors, with resource suppliers and producers to facilitate the reuse of treated waste. This study collected data from these stakeholders to enhance understanding and proposed a conceptual model to improve waste management knowledge among producers. It advocates for a comprehensive approach involving all actors in food waste management, which hasn't been previously explored.

The real-world situation of food supply chain in Bandung Regency

The supply chain at Bandung Regency involves three primary participants: farmers, intermediaries, and customers. Each of these actors assumes distinct roles and responsibilities within the agricultural product supply chain. Farmers are individuals responsible for producing agricultural products. Intermediaries are entities that aid farmers in the distribution of their products to the primary consumers. These intermediary participants can be categorized into two groups: wholesalers and retailers. Wholesalers are entities that acquire these products from farmers, either directly or indirectly, and subsequently sell them to purchasers in bulk quantities. Meanwhile, retailers are parties who directly sell products to the end consumers 27 .

There are two categories of wholesalers: merchant wholesalers and agents or brokers. The distinction between a merchant wholesaler and an agent or broker is found in how they participate in the supply chain process of distributing goods. Agents or brokers primarily facilitate connections between farmers and wholesalers who have direct market or customer access. They do this through communication and negotiation without physically handling the agricultural products, a role often referred to as being intermediaries or middle-men 27 , 28 . On the other hand, supermarkets are larger, modern retailers with a self-service concept, aiming to fulfill consumers' complete grocery and household product needs 27 . Online retailers conduct transactions without the need for physical interaction between sellers and buyers, operating through online platforms.

Lastly, customers are individuals or entities that use or consume the agricultural products, either for personal use or for further distribution as different products. In the agricultural product supply chain within Bandung Regency, customers can be categorized into two groups based on how they utilize the purchased items: the consumer market and the business market 27 . Consumer markets involve individuals who use products for personal consumption, while business markets consist of customers who purchase and distribute products in bulk, often to other businesses or consumers after processing.

Figure  1 illustrates the movement of agricultural products, particularly vegetables and fruits, within the agricultural supply chain of Bandung Regency. The figure depicts that agricultural products have their source in farmers or crop producers and ultimately reach consumers, encompassing both business clients and individual end users.

figure 1

Bandung Regency’s Current Agricultural Supply Chain.

Current handling of unused product during the supply chain process

While it may seem that agricultural products follow a path from farmers as producers to eventual consumers, not all of these products find buyers and are sold. According to the data gathered, a significant portion of unsold products ends up as waste. Interestingly, not all of these products are in poor condition, and some still possess quality suitable for sale in the market. These unsold products can be categorized into three broad groups based on their condition, as outlined in the matrix proposed by Teigiserova, Hamelin, and Thomsen 29 : surplus food, food waste, and food loss.

To reduce food surplus, the "reduce" principle can be applied through measures like careful production planning or the utilization of advanced storage technologies, such as cold chain management. As per the interviews, certain actors, particularly those in financially stable positions like supermarkets, exporters, and restaurants, have successfully implemented waste reduction efforts, and the outcomes have indeed assisted them in waste reduction. However, some other actors still face challenges in implementing these measures, primarily due to limited financial resources (additional obstacles can be found in Fig.  2 , the Rich picture).

figure 2

Rich Picture of Bandung Regency’s Agriculture Supply Chain and Current Waste Management Practice.

The "reuse" principle, particularly for surplus edible products, is crucial alongside prevention measures. Common methods include distributing to food collection organizations, providing to local communities for free, selling at reduced prices, and processing into other food items. Selling at lower prices is the most commonly adopted. Partially edible products are often reused, while true food waste can be repurposed through recycling for animal feed, composting, insect rearing, and material recovery. However, recycling efforts are limited due to a lack of knowledge, leading some to dispose of unused products. Another option is energy generation through anaerobic digestion, but it's currently underutilized.

Meanwhile, according to government officials interviewed, it was emphasized that independent waste management efforts by the community were essential. This was seen as necessary because it would be impossible for the government alone to handle all waste-related responsibilities. A key limitation from the government's perspective is the inadequate waste management infrastructure in Bandung Regency.

As stated in the 2018 performance report of the Bandung Regency Environmental Service, with only 100 waste transport vehicles, the government was able to collect and transport a mere 16.32% of the waste, a figure that decreased further in 2019 to 12.6% due to a rise in waste generation. Consequently, the Bandung Regency government encourages residents to take a more active role in waste management.

The government has initiated various efforts to enable citizens to participate in waste reduction. However, in practice, people have been slow to embrace waste management practices. Even with organizational support, only 40% of the population actively engages in these programs, as per representatives from non-governmental organization s during telephone interviews on June 16, 2022. Additionally, when not continuously supported, people tend to discontinue their participation. Meanwhile, the organizations themselves face resource limitations, preventing them from providing ongoing assistance and monitoring to residents. The challenges faced by various actors and their competing priorities often lead them to opt for waste disposal rather than utilization. Figure  2 , the Rich Picture, illustrates the complex issues within the agricultural product supply chain in Bandung Regency and waste management.

Root definition

The Rich Picture diagram illustrates that actors have not fully embraced waste utilization. Despite the obstacles and concerns expressed in interviews, the main challenge lies in changing people's ingrained habit of disposing of anything they consider useless. Society is accustomed to discarding items, while the government aims to encourage people not to waste potentially useful items and find ways to repurpose them. This is a significant hurdle as these habits have persisted for a long time and are deeply ingrained. When asked why they don't utilize waste, some individuals couldn't provide specific reasons and considered discarding waste as an automatic and unquestioned habit.

However, other barriers contribute to people's reluctance to utilize waste. Interviews reveal that a common obstacle is the lack of public awareness about the significance and urgency of waste issues, as well as limited knowledge about waste management. Many interviewees indicated that they hadn't experienced any negative consequences from waste accumulation, and some considered littering as a normal practice driven by their circumstances.

The issue of low public awareness of waste problems is also acknowledged by government agencies and non-governmental organization’s working in the solid waste sector. The abandonment and limited success of various waste reduction programs and facilities can be attributed to this problem. As mentioned earlier, even when the government and non-governmental organization’s assisted communities in implementing waste reduction programs, these initiatives were not adopted by 100% of the residents, and often not even by half of them. This drop-off in participation occurred particularly when residents were no longer under active supervision, despite initially appearing proficient in executing the programs during mentoring periods. Consequently, the model areas or waste processing assistance efforts were not sustained, and residents reverted to their old habits. (Non-governmental organization Representatives, Telephone Interview, 16/06/2022).

Waste can be used wisely to make it more valuable. Certain agricultural products such as fruit remnants can be repurposed into other valuable products by recovering their bioactive compounds through valorization techniques 23 . Some individuals have attempted to reuse waste by processing it into fertilizer, selling it in the market, or transforming it into other products. However, the outcomes often did not justify the effort expended, leading them to revert to discarding waste. The comparison between results and effort involved revolves around the processed products' energy, time, and additional costs required for waste processing. For example, energy generated from waste processing in a biodigester was only sufficient for 1-2 nearby houses or a community meeting hall, indicating limited impact.

The economic value of waste utilization presents as second obstacle. While some individuals are willing to utilize waste for economic benefits, many view its main advantage as environmental. This perspective is especially common among economically disadvantaged individuals. Market challenges, such as distance from potential users and a lack of awareness about product benefits, also hinder waste utilization. Additionally, farmers may continue to harvest even in oversupplied markets, leading to increased costs and waste. This economic focus discourages waste processing.

The third obstacle is limited resources, such as time, funding, manpower, and technology. Time constraints are the major issue, as supply chain actors prioritize their core income-generating activities. Financials limitations, especially among unstable actors, hinder investments in technologies like cold storage or food processing tools.

Supermarkets, in particular, face space limitations for waste processing, and these constraints can lead to discontinuation of waste utilization programs in favor of waste disposal through cleaning services. Overall, changing waste management habits is challenging when immediate waste disposal is the norm, and public awareness of the government's goals is lacking. Perceived benefits, distribution challenges, and resource limitations further deter habit changes. A CATWOE analysis, aimed at shifting waste handling habits towards waste utilization, is detailed in the table below.

The Table 1 CATWOE analysis shows how the ideal system is to produce an effective transition to the habit of utilizing waste.In the CATWOE framework, the first element is the "customer," which, in this context, refers to society at large within the agricultural supply chain. The second element, the "actor," encompasses all stakeholders committed to changing food waste disposal habits. Collaboration is essential to effectively bring about this change. The third element, "transformation," aims to change habits while considering the factors driving and inhibiting change. The fourth element, "Weltanschauung," emphasizes that this change system should align with individuals' fundamental needs for achieving and sustaining change. The "owner," as the fifth element, is the government, which not only acknowledges the food waste issue but also holds the authority to influence and regulate societal behavior. The final element, the "environment," encompasses the entire agricultural product supply chain, extending beyond Bandung Regency.

Conceptual model

The CATWOE analysis indicates a need for a mechanism to enhance how people utilize waste. To address this, a conceptual model was developed in this study, utilizing the ADKAR change management paradigm, which was introduced by Prosci in 1998. The selection of the ADKAR model was based on its appropriateness for implementing changes that require acceptance from those undergoing the change, in this case, society. This choice was made considering the scope and impact of the change. Therefore, Fig.  2 , titled "The Conceptual Model," illustrates the system for altering people's behaviors to maximize waste utilization.

According to the ADKAR model in Figure 3 , the first step in facilitating change is to create awareness among those involved. This awareness should encompass an understanding of the reasons for change and the potential risks if change is not implemented. In the context of promoting waste utilization 30 , it's crucial for change agents to ensure that people comprehend the issues surrounding food waste and how utilizing waste can address these concerns. Without this understanding, people may be hesitant to change their habits. The subsequent step in driving change is to stimulate people's desire to use waste, as this motivation is what can encourage active participation in the change process. In the context of waste utilization, change agents must grasp the community's desires and needs regarding waste use to motivate them for necessary changes. However, the lack of perceived benefits from changing routines has hindered supply chain actors' embrace of waste utilization. Interviews with those who have used waste revealed a positive impact, especially on environmental aspects, but this alone wasn't enough motivation to continue, except for individuals in supermarkets who viewed environmental concerns as part of their corporate social responsibility. Their primary focus, though, was on economic aspects. In fact, most respondents indicated that they would be more interested in waste utilization if processed waste products could provide economic value by increasing income or reducing expenses.

figure 3

The Conceptual Model.

The next step involves changing people's behavior by providing them with information on effective waste utilization. This goes beyond theoretical knowledge and includes practical understanding of the new tasks and responsibilities associated with these changes, along with training. Four key aspects must be addressed when influencing change knowledge: existing community knowledge, the community's learning capacity, available resources for education and training, and access to information. It's crucial to consider these factors for effective knowledge delivery. Change agents should tailor their approach to the specific audience they are addressing.

Once the community has the necessary knowledge, the next phase is to implement waste utilization. This phase includes developing strategies and action plans and evaluating the effectiveness of implementation. Putting knowledge into practice is vital because theory and practice can differ. To sustain these changes, reinforcement is essential. This can be achieved through incentives, recognition, or even government policies mandating the changes. Finally, change agents must continuously monitor and control their efforts to alter waste utilization habits, understanding that forming new habits takes time, especially in large-scale changes. Monitoring and control ensure alignment with government objectives and allow for necessary adjustments.

The ADKAR model outlined in the context of waste utilization provides a structured approach to driving change by focusing on awareness, desire, knowledge, action, and reinforcement. The applicability and effectiveness of the model in the context of waste utilization depend on its successful adaptation to local contexts, effective stakeholder engagement, practical knowledge delivery, and ongoing monitoring and reinforcement efforts. When implemented thoughtfully and comprehensively, the model can serve as a valuable framework for driving sustainable change in waste management practices.

Based on the issues outlined in the root definition and conceptual model, it's evident that those driving change must initially focus on raising awareness and fostering a desire for the intended change. However, it's crucial to emphasize that planning these efforts should not be divorced from setting specific change objectives in advance to ensure that these endeavors stay on course. The first approach to achieve this is through expansion.

Factors such as economic conditions, income levels, and the cost associated with waste disposal services significantly affect individuals' decisions about managing their waste 31 . In addition, sociocultural beliefs, societal norms, and perceptions regarding waste disposal practices also play a crucial role in waste management 32 . Moreover, individual behaviors, preferences, and levels of environmental consciousness significantly influence how people dispose of their garbage 33 .

Therefore, expansion is needed to raise awareness and shift people's perspectives about waste. The intention is to strengthen their knowledge in waste management and its impact. According to research by McCoy 34 , the role of expansion is to alter how people perceive and manage something, in this case, food waste. Collaborating with broad array of experts and stakeholders offers an opportunity to enhance education and understanding of food waste, serving as a foundation for instigating habitual changes towards its utilization.

Behavioral science research, exemplified by Cialdini's on social influence and persuasion underscores the significance of comprehending human behavior to shape attitudes and encourage the adoption of new practices. Employing principles from behavioral psychology can assist in devising interventions that advocate for the adoption of effective waste disposal methods 35 . Therefore, involving the community in decision-making processes concerning waste management interventions instills a sense of ownership. Studies like those conducted by Lockwood et al. highlight the importance of community engagement and participatory approaches in waste management initiatives, resulting in enhanced acceptance and sustainability of implemented measures 36

Efficient communication and educational campaigns are instrumental in gaining public support and comprehension. Research by Maibach et al. emphasizes the significance of targeted communication strategies in facilitating behavioral changes related to environmental issues, including waste management 37 .

Therefore, utilizing social media as a educational campaign tool to raise public awareness is one viable method to create more efficient communication. Given the continuous growth in the number of internet and social media users in Indonesia, social media can be an effective medium for disseminating information to enhance public awareness. According to research by Jenkins et al. 38 , social media has demonstrated a positive impact on raising awareness and contributing to the reduction of food waste, particularly at the consumer level. In addition to the awareness issue, it was previously noted that another challenge is the perceived lack of benefits by society. Nattassha et al.'s 26 research highlights the critical role of incentives in encouraging cassava supply chain growers to adopt a circular economy, thereby motivating them to remain engaged in the supply chain. Presently, the benefits expected by the community are linked to the economic value of waste disposal. The establishment of a circular economy represents one strategy to align people's desires with waste utilization.

Further, intelligence and digitalization play a crucial role in shaping an effective waste management model. These approaches can offer several advantages, such as real-time monitoring of waste collection, optimizing routes for garbage trucks, and improving recycling processes through data analysis 39 . Studies published in journals like "Separation and Purification Technology" often explore the realm of intelligent waste management systems. These systems utilize digital technologies such as IoT (Internet of Things), AI (Artificial Intelligence), and data analytics to streamline waste collection, recycling procedures, and resource allocation. For instance, Babaei and Basu 40 delve into the implementation of IoT and AI in waste management in their work 40 .

Additionally, research by Tao et al. 41 utilize 20-kHz ultrasound, this study extracted phenolics from Chinese chokeberry using distilled water and 50% aqueous ethanol, revealing that adaptive neuro-fuzzy inference system (ANFIS) successfully correlated extraction parameters with high total phenolic yield, while identifying the effectiveness of different solvents for extracting specific phenolic compound.

Technological progress holds a significant role in waste management. Progress in waste-to-energy technologies, recycling processes, and intelligent waste management systems profoundly affects the effectiveness and sustainability of waste management practices 42 . Therefore, continuous evolution of policies is essential, taking into account technological advancements, socio-economic changes, and environmental considerations. This flexibility and adaptability within policies are crucial to ensure the effectiveness and relevance of waste management strategies amidst changing circumstances and emerging challenges.

In conclusion, effective communication and educational campaigns, including the use of social media, can enhance public awareness and understanding of waste management. Furthermore, implementing a circular economy and integrating intelligence and digitalization into waste management systems are crucial for improving their effectiveness and sustainability. However, the study has limitations. It focuses solely on Bandung Regency, potentially limiting the generalizability of its findings. Additionally, constraints related to data availability and resources, as well as the complexity of interdisciplinary approaches to waste management, may impact the research. Future studies should address these limitations by conducting comparative studies across different regions to identify variations in waste management practices. Longitudinal studies are also needed to assess the long-term effectiveness of interventions and monitor changes in waste management behaviors over time. Additionally, exploring innovative approaches to enhance community engagement and participation in waste management initiatives is essential.

The research method employed in this study is Soft Systems Methodology (SSM), which was developed by Checkland in 1989. The choice of this methodology is based on its suitability for addressing the research questions, considering the study's context and subject matter. This research aims to identify the current management of food waste and the potential for food waste utilization in Bandung Regency, with a focus on waste flow within the agricultural supply chain. The study involves gathering insights from various stakeholders.

Given that this research utilizes the Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) approach, the research process follows the steps outlined by Checkland. Checkland's SSM involves a seven-stage model, and Figure 4 illustrates how the research is conducted.

figure 4

Seven Stages of SSM.

Primary data is acquired through a primary semi-structured interview conducted via purposive sampling. Interviews were carried out with a total of 27 respondents who had connections to and involvement in the agricultural product waste supply chain in Bandung Regency. These respondents represented various roles, including farmers, domestic and overseas merchant wholesalers (exporters), traditional market wholesalers, retail sellers in traditional markets, supermarket representatives, restaurant managers, small and medium-sized food business owners, cattle fattening workers, chicken farmers, private agricultural extension agents, farmer cooperation representatives, public relations personnel from non-profit organizations focused on waste, government representatives, and end-users. Secondary data is sourced from existing literature.

Data availability

The datasets used and/or analyzed during the current study available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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agricultural waste management research paper



Revisiting the modern approach to manage agricultural solid waste: an innovative solution

  • Published: 08 May 2023

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agricultural waste management research paper

  • Pratichi Singh 1 ,
  • Swetanshu 1 ,
  • Rajesh Yadav 2 ,
  • Hadi Erfani   nAff3 ,
  • Shagufta Jabin 4 &
  • Sapana Jadoun   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-3572-7934 5  

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Agricultural solid waste (ASW) is a serious concern globally, specifically in agricultural countries like India, China, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc. A lot of agricultural waste like the remain of crop plants, peels, leaves, corn cob, decayed crops, etc., is produced directly or indirectly every year affecting the environment and is not appropriately managed. Therefore, to overcome this problem, there is a need to develop waste redemption techniques to transform solid waste into value-added products. The wastes are generally rich in carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and many other organic and inorganic constituents. This composition allows us to produce numerous value-added products like livestock feed, bio-preservatives, biofuels, biofertilizers, single-cell proteins, nanoparticles, biodegradable plastic, chitosan, collagen, and antibodies. Additionally, various start-ups leading to new beneficial products from agricultural solid waste should be promoted. This review intends to explore the sources of agricultural solid waste generation and to provide a solution to manage the waste through modern technologies, saving the environment and boosting a country’s economy. The outcome of our study will lead toward a sustainable approach to waste management as we have comprises the most innovative and successful working models in one place. This newly developed technique will help to achieve the greater goal of sustainable development.

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  • Agricultural solid waste

World wildlife fund

United Nations Environment Programme

Value-added product

Indian Council of Agricultural Research

ICAR-National Institute of Natural Fibre Engineering and Technology

NBAIM: ICAR-National Bureau of Agriculturally Important Microorganisms

CIRCOT: ICAR-Central Institute for Research on Cotton Technology

CMFRI: ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute

CIPHET: ICAR-Central Institute of Post-Harvest Engineering and Technology

Cetyltrimethylammonium bromide



Solid-state fermentation

Amycolatopsis mediterranean

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The author Sapana Jadoun is grateful for the support of the National Research and Development Agency of Chile (ANID) and the projects, FONDECYT Postdoctoral 3200850, FONDECYT 1191572, PSEQ210016 and ANID/FONDAP/15110019.

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Hadi Erfani

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Department of Biosciences, School of Basic and Applied Sciences, Galgotias University, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, 203201, India

Pratichi Singh &  Swetanshu

Department of Dialysis Technology, School of Allied Health Sciences, Sharda University, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, 201310, India

Rajesh Yadav

Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Engineering, Manav Rachna International Institute of Research & Studies, Faridabad, India

Shagufta Jabin

Laboratorio de Especiación y Trazas Elementales, Departamento de Química Analítica e Inorgánica, Facultad de Ciencias Químicas, Universidad de Concepción, Concepción, Chile

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Singh, P., Swetanshu, Yadav, R. et al. Revisiting the modern approach to manage agricultural solid waste: an innovative solution. Environ Dev Sustain (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-023-03309-7

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