Research Topic

Sustainable Recycling of Food Waste and Co-Products to Recover Bioactive Compounds and Phytochemicals

About this Research Topic

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization 1.3 billion tons of food gets lost or wasted every year in the world, an impressive figure that amounts to approximately one-third of the edible parts of food produced for human consumption. Such a large amount of waste has been generally managed as refuse or special refuse and conveyed to landfills or composted, entailing a high environmental risk and the loss of compounds and molecules with great bioactive potential, as well as additional management costs. This practice is now changing and reducing, re-using, recycling, and recovering are the founding principles of circular economy models.

There is a growing interest in valorizing agro-industrial co-products as abundant, renewable and cheap sources of high added value, healthy and nutritional molecules. Indeed, fruit and vegetable waste still contains a significant amount of micronutrients, vitamins and natural bioactive compounds (NBCs). NBCs can provide beneficial effects to humans in terms of health promotion and disease risk reduction; thanks to their antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antimicrobial, antidiabetic, anticancer, anti-diarrheal and antihypertensive activity among many others.

A current major research challenge is the identification of the best “extraction” conditions, i.e. the conditions that improve the release, recovery and isolation of NBCs from the vegetable matrix in which they are encased, without altering their activity and whilst employing more sustainable processes to do so. Conventional extraction methods, commonly found in literature, are liquid–liquid or solid–liquid extraction, primarily based on the use of organic solvents. With the development of novel more environmentally friendly techniques able to enhance extraction yields whilst minimizing the extraction times, the use of solvents, or reducing the extraction temperatures, a new landscape for plants co-products utilization is in front of us.

By means of these emerging technologies novel compounds can be identified and characterized, aimed to be used in formulations of functional foods, or as bioactive agents in the pharmacy sectors. However, how these new compounds may interact with other food components (e.g. lipids and proteins) and how susceptible they are to processing conditions requires further investigation. Finally, studies on the biological activity of these compounds of interest and their fate in the gastrointestinal tract and absorption also need to be performed.

Therefore, this Research Topic seeks to explore the detection and identification of NBCs in waste and co-products from the food industry; increase the knowledge regarding innovative and emerging extraction techniques; explore the potential in vivo activity of extracted NBCs; and finally how they might interact with other food components when incorporated to food products. This Research Topic aims to cover all the stages from the identification and isolation, up to the development of new food products incorporating NBCs.

We welcome manuscripts focused on:
• The identification and characterization of bioactive compounds from food waste and co-products; including their chemical structure and determination of both in vivo and in vitro activities of interest for the food industry.
• Emerging sustainable and green extraction methods for the isolation of natural bioactive compounds (NBCs) from food waste and co-products.
• Interactions of novel bioactive compounds extracted from food waste and co-products with lipids, vitamins, proteins, and carbohydrates, and its impact on food quality, bioavailability and absorption of other food components.
• Development of novel food products and formulations using NBCs extracted from food co-products and waste.


Dr. Alvarez Garcia is a Research Advisor for Nanovex Biotechnologies SL, a technology-based spin-off from the University of Oviedo that provides services and products in the nanobiotechnology field. All other Topic Editors declare no competing interests with regard to the Research Topic subject.


Keywords: Bioactive Compounds, Food Waste, Food Co-Products, Sustainable Extraction Methods, Agro-Industry


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization 1.3 billion tons of food gets lost or wasted every year in the world, an impressive figure that amounts to approximately one-third of the edible parts of food produced for human consumption. Such a large amount of waste has been generally managed as refuse or special refuse and conveyed to landfills or composted, entailing a high environmental risk and the loss of compounds and molecules with great bioactive potential, as well as additional management costs. This practice is now changing and reducing, re-using, recycling, and recovering are the founding principles of circular economy models.

There is a growing interest in valorizing agro-industrial co-products as abundant, renewable and cheap sources of high added value, healthy and nutritional molecules. Indeed, fruit and vegetable waste still contains a significant amount of micronutrients, vitamins and natural bioactive compounds (NBCs). NBCs can provide beneficial effects to humans in terms of health promotion and disease risk reduction; thanks to their antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antimicrobial, antidiabetic, anticancer, anti-diarrheal and antihypertensive activity among many others.

A current major research challenge is the identification of the best “extraction” conditions, i.e. the conditions that improve the release, recovery and isolation of NBCs from the vegetable matrix in which they are encased, without altering their activity and whilst employing more sustainable processes to do so. Conventional extraction methods, commonly found in literature, are liquid–liquid or solid–liquid extraction, primarily based on the use of organic solvents. With the development of novel more environmentally friendly techniques able to enhance extraction yields whilst minimizing the extraction times, the use of solvents, or reducing the extraction temperatures, a new landscape for plants co-products utilization is in front of us.

By means of these emerging technologies novel compounds can be identified and characterized, aimed to be used in formulations of functional foods, or as bioactive agents in the pharmacy sectors. However, how these new compounds may interact with other food components (e.g. lipids and proteins) and how susceptible they are to processing conditions requires further investigation. Finally, studies on the biological activity of these compounds of interest and their fate in the gastrointestinal tract and absorption also need to be performed.

Therefore, this Research Topic seeks to explore the detection and identification of NBCs in waste and co-products from the food industry; increase the knowledge regarding innovative and emerging extraction techniques; explore the potential in vivo activity of extracted NBCs; and finally how they might interact with other food components when incorporated to food products. This Research Topic aims to cover all the stages from the identification and isolation, up to the development of new food products incorporating NBCs.

We welcome manuscripts focused on:
• The identification and characterization of bioactive compounds from food waste and co-products; including their chemical structure and determination of both in vivo and in vitro activities of interest for the food industry.
• Emerging sustainable and green extraction methods for the isolation of natural bioactive compounds (NBCs) from food waste and co-products.
• Interactions of novel bioactive compounds extracted from food waste and co-products with lipids, vitamins, proteins, and carbohydrates, and its impact on food quality, bioavailability and absorption of other food components.
• Development of novel food products and formulations using NBCs extracted from food co-products and waste.


Dr. Alvarez Garcia is a Research Advisor for Nanovex Biotechnologies SL, a technology-based spin-off from the University of Oviedo that provides services and products in the nanobiotechnology field. All other Topic Editors declare no competing interests with regard to the Research Topic subject.


Keywords: Bioactive Compounds, Food Waste, Food Co-Products, Sustainable Extraction Methods, Agro-Industry


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

30 June 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

30 June 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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