Aussie startup fights food waste with maggot robots

Maggot robots take on the food waste management challenge

Startup journeys are rarely linear. It often takes many iterations to get something from a mere idea to a market-ready product. And sometimes, a business idea can change entirely during the discovery process. For Olympia Yarger, it led from wanting to launch a sustainable poultry farming business to developing modular maggot robots for food waste management through her Canberra-based startup Goterra

“When I started, I was just looking for a sustainable protein feed for a poultry enterprise. And that’s how I found insects. Initially, I switched my focus to farming those instead of poultry to avoid the trap of doing too many things at once,” says Olympia. “But then I realised that the supply chains around feeding animals (or humans for that matter) are broken in their current state.”

Australia’s agricultural sector depends on carrying heavy road and rail freight over vast distances to feed farm animals. This adds to the sector’s overall environmental footprint and is also a major money drain. Feed makes up 70% of production costs for farmers and the cost of feed is relative to its transportation requirements. And Olympia didn’t want to replicate the model for her insect farming business by carrying food waste across the country to feed insects that would then, in turn, feed other farming animals in the supply chain.

Taking the leap: from insect farming to food waste management robots

“If we had used the same intensive farming model to farm insects as in the intensive farming of any protein, we would have also replicated the same problems. That’s why we switched gears to fix the logistical challenges around feeding protein and combine it with proximity to the waste streams for the insects,” says Olympia. “And once we figured that out, it was like ‘hold on a second: this is a food waste management business, not a protein business’.”

Entrepreneurs

This circular fashion brand is changing the industry from within

The rise of fast fashion has completely changed the way we buy clothing. Trends come and go at the blink of an eye and ever-lowering price tags mean that it hardly seems worthwhile to repair a garment. The result? Globally one garbage truck of textiles is wasted every second.

Courtney Holm, Founder of circular fashion A.BCH
A.BCH founder Courtney Holm

For a long time, making more sustainable style choices could seem like an absolute minefield. Fast fashion brands continue to dominate our malls and even if you are prepared to pay more for your clothing it doesn’t necessarily mean that the garments were made from better quality materials or under better conditions.

The good news is that as consumer awareness around the environmental and social impact of their fashion choices is growing, more and more brands are emerging that adopt more sustainable philosophies.

Courtney Holm is a Melbourne-based designer and the founder of Australia’s first circular fashion label A.BCH. Through local sourcing, the use of 100% traceable material and radical transparency, Courtney is looking to offer consumers the opportunity to make better choices and is working to change the fashion industry from within.

Entrepreneurs