December 9th, 2023
Globally, food production is responsible for around 25% of greenhouse gas emissions and around one-third of our food is being thrown away.
Bardee is Australia’s largest insect breeding facility that uses black soldier flies to convert food waste into organic fertiliser and animal protein.
They currently process up to 10 tonnes of food waste every day at their Moonbase site.
Who knew the solution to our food waste problem could potentially come from the insect world?
Bardee is led by co-founders Phoebe Gardner, and Alex Arnold, who have combined their skills of architecture and entomology and a strong social purpose to put an end to food waste and make our food systems more circular. The company today processes up to 10 tonnes of food waste every day using black soldier fly larvae and is on its way to expanding into cities all over the world.
We spoke with Karim, Strategic Insights Lead at Bardee, to learn about their groundbreaking innovations, aiming to close the loop in our food systems and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Founded in 2019 by ex-architect Phoebe Gardner, and Soil Scientist & Entomologist, Alex Arnold, Bardee are now the largest insect breeding, fertiliser and protein producer in Australia."
"Bardee’s system captures the nutrients in food waste streams and upcycles them into high-quality ingredients essential for a more sustainable future food system. Together, they have developed a world-leading vertical farming system for black soldier flies, whose larvae can consume various types of pre & post-consumer food waste and turn it into protein for animal feed, and certified organic fertilisers and soil enhancers.”
“We are on a mission to reshape the global food system. By 2030, the global food system must achieve net-zero emissions and by 2050 we need to increase total food production by 50% to feed 9.7 billion people. With this in mind, we have no other option but to build a sustainable future for our food production.”
“Today, over 800 million people are suffering from hunger worldwide, yet one-third of the food produced goes to waste—approximately 1.3 billion tonnes every year. Food production is also responsible for 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Half are associated with food waste, because when food goes to landfill and rots it produces methane, a greenhouse gas 80 times more potent than CO2.”
“Bardee’s solution is a truly circular operation, working with the black soldier fly larvae (BSFL), nature's greatest recyclers. The outputs of our vertical farm feed back into the food system, as certified organic fertiliser and soil enhancers to improve crop yields and nutritional value of food, and as a sustainable alternative to protein food sources for stock feed and pet food.”
Working with natural systems, the challenges we face are often simple, but seldom easy to solve - the diversity & wide range of deep expertise in the team has allowed us to consistently re-define what is possible with these extraordinary insects.
“The key to making our business truly circular was to build a world class team. With top talent from across the globe, we were able to innovate and develop outstanding products for our customers that are objectively better than existing alternatives.”
“Over two years, Bardee have grown from a team of four, to almost 30, with eight different first languages, and with 80% of our leadership roles held by women.”
“Here is a breakdown of how the Bardee solution works:
1. We collect or receive food waste at our facility in Melbourne. We work with growers and producers to collect food waste from farms, property managers, restaurants, cafes, bakeries and factories to prevent their food waste from going to landfill.
2. Food waste is processed into an optimal feed for black soldier fly larvae. These flies are a non-pest species whose unique qualities make them dramatically more efficient at breaking down food waste than conventional means, as well as being more efficient in the production of food and organic fertilisers. Every tonne of food waste diverted from landfill creates 2,500kg of CO2 offset.
3. Our vertical farming system feeds and nurtures the flies through their natural growth phases. In our Grow Labs, larvae grow 3,000 times in size in just seven days eating only food waste - no added water!
4. Once harvested and separated, the biomass of the insects is a high quality, nutritious and sustainable protein source for animal feed, and the frass (manure) is a certified organic fertiliser and soil enhancer that is a powerful tool for plant nutrition, increasing biodiversity in the soil, enhancing growth and improving crop yields.”
“The commercial pilot site, ‘Moonbase’, creates up to 2.5 tonnes of carbon offset for every tonne of food waste diverted from landfill. Given we process up to 10 tonnes of food waste daily, we can offset 25 tonnes of CO2 per day, and we are just getting started!”
“We are currently operating in a 2,500 square metre facility in Melbourne, with over 1 billion flies. Over the next 12 months, we are looking to open a facility 30 times the size of our current site, significantly scaling up production capability and the amount of CO2 offset we can create.”
“2023 is going to be a big year for the Bardee team. We will be launching Superfly® organic fertiliser and soil enhancer in-store and online in Bunnings nationwide in Q1, 2023 and we were also recently approved by the Australian Government Clean Energy Regulator to produce carbon credits from the food waste that we divert from landfill.”
“We are the world's first industrial insect breeding company to achieve this milestone. And because the carbon credits are produced based on how much food waste is diverted from landfill, it also means farmers can use our (Organically Certified, Australian-made) Superfly fertiliser to build up their soil carbon and generate their own carbon credits to help support their sustainable and responsible land management.”
With a repeatable process to maximise impact and capital efficiency, over the next 10 years, Bardee aims to process food waste and create products in 10,000 cities around the world.”
“Choose circular solutions where they are available. If you have a choice, choose products that have been grown sustainably, and be open to exploring and consuming alternative proteins! To know more about how Bardee is reshaping the global food system and view our products, head to https://www.bardee.com/”