Multi-criteria assessment of the viability of valorising vegetable by-products from the distribution as secondary raw material for animal feed

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2021 Apr;28(13):15716-15730. doi: 10.1007/s11356-020-11752-6. Epub 2020 Nov 26.


Approximately 33% of food produced around the world is wasted. In the distribution sector, erroneous orders or demand predictions result in products that cannot be sold before the expiration date. Despite its enormous potential, a low percentage of this food wastage is valorised causing negative social, economic and environmental impacts. Vegetable food waste has potential as raw material for animal feed. However, the profitability of its valorisation depends on several key factors and there is a risk of underestimating any of them making this valorisation technically, economically or environmentally unfeasible. Moreover, the geographical dispersion requires selecting the appropriate location for the processing plant and optimising the logistics routes to collect and transport them from the origin points to the processing plant. GISWASTE tool, which combines Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) method with ArcGIS, has been used to simulate the viability of this valorisation alternative from a holistic point of view. In addition, a sensitivity analysis in the economic modelling has been carried out to determine the economic viability factors with more influence in the global profitability. The valorisation of vegetable food waste from distribution and retailing sector for animal feed has been considered feasible in the case study region: Basque Country (Spain). However, there are some economic uncertainties for the return of the investment. The variable with more influence over the profitability is by far the incomes from waste management (81.4%).

Keywords: Analytic Hierarchy Process; Circular economy; Feedstuff; Food waste; Geographic information system; Sensitivity analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Refuse Disposal*
  • Spain
  • Vegetables
  • Waste Management*