Plant-based proteins from agro-industrial waste and by-products: Towards a more circular economy

Int J Biol Macromol. 2024 Mar;261(Pt 1):129576. doi: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2024.129576. Epub 2024 Jan 20.


There is a pressing need for affordable, abundant, and sustainable sources of proteins to address the rising nutrient demands of a growing global population. The food and agriculture sectors produce significant quantities of waste and by-products during the growing, harvesting, storing, transporting, and processing of raw materials. These waste and by-products can sometimes be converted into valuable protein-rich ingredients with excellent functional and nutritional attributes, thereby contributing to a more circular economy. This review critically assesses the potential for agro-industrial wastes and by-products to contribute to global protein requirements. Initially, we discuss the origins and molecular characteristics of plant proteins derived from agro-industrial waste and by-products. We then discuss the techno-functional attributes, extraction methods, and modification techniques that are applied to these plant proteins. Finally, challenges linked to the safety, allergenicity, anti-nutritional factors, digestibility, and sensory attributes of plant proteins derived from these sources are highlighted. The utilization of agro-industrial by-products and wastes as an economical, abundant, and sustainable protein source could contribute towards achieving the Sustainable Development Agenda's 2030 goal of a "zero hunger world", as well as mitigating fluctuations in food availability and prices, which have detrimental impacts on global food security and nutrition.

Keywords: Circular economy; Food security, food application; Sustainable protein source.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Food
  • Industrial Waste*
  • Plant Proteins*


  • Industrial Waste
  • Plant Proteins