In food and drink manufacturing, costs must be relentlessly minimised because margins for most products are low. At the same time, the business case for biorefining of lignocellulosic feedstocks has been positive in only a small number of cases. Since the two industries use similar feedstocks and processing equipment, there should be potential for significant sharing of resources for economic and environmental gain, particularly with regard to energy, if they were co-located. This paper reviews the nature, issues and opportunities for this sort of resource sharing between food industries and biorefineries. It then illustrates the opportunity by modelling a food product (coffee bean roasting) co-located with lignocellulosic biorefining of its downstream by-product (spent coffee grounds) where biofuels are not the target output, identifying and evaluating the resource efficiencies and economics involved. The analysis shows that there can be significant benefits, but that the exact nature of the food and biorefinery products and the biorefining pathways are the key dependencies. Further research should produce a comprehensive league table of co-location opportunities for the benefit of both industries to enhance both their economics and their sustainability metrics through well-targeted synergies.
Sheppard, P., Garcia-garcia, G., Angelis-dimakis, A., Campbell, G. M., & Rahimifard, S. (2019). Synergies in the co-location of food manufacturing and biorefining. Food and Bioproducts Processing, 117, 340-359. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fbp.2019.08.001