farmers, Sustainability
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Upcycle: Make money out of the coolest trend

When we hear the term “upcycled food” many of us tend to think of yucky old food sold to us for consumption. Not so. Upcycled food mainly means that ingredients in food past sell by date are saved from landfill and processed into something useful. It means harnessing perfectly viable food items past its sell-by date and putting them back into the food chain.

In a sense this is not a new concept. Way back in ye olden times, when people lived off the land without supermarkets on every corner, every piece of usable organic material was upscaled. If industries start analyzing their waste byproducts and seeing what they can do with it, many of these products will not be wasted and may even save – or make – them money. Upcycling is a growing industry.


Kenneth Gormley from Patchwork Group South Africa believes our country is still far behind what is being achieved in more advanced economies, and there is a huge amount of potential.

“Most people imagine rotting food or dumpster diving, but this is not what we do. We take food items that still have immense potential and that would have been “wasted” and lovingly transform these into amazing upcycled food products.

“It was sad for us to see the beautiful gin post-distillation botanicals heading to landfills or compost heaps, when they held so much potential for a second life. And so Ginit spices was born. The variants in the GiNiT Spice Range utilize the post distillation of gin botanicals for spices, rubs, seasoning, popcorn or snack spice, in a dip or fresh salsa.

GiNiT Spice Range uses post distillated gin botanicals to make a range of spices.


Kenneth is also impressed by Thorny Creek Brewery in the Klein Karoo and The Red Bus Café, where they upcycle spent brewers grain from their craft brewery into flour.

Thorny Creek Brewery’s flour. Photo:

“Darling Brewery also has an amazing project that utilizes spent brewers grain and upcycles this into Beer Chips”

Another locally produced spent brewers grain product is Plato’s crisp. Manufactured and distributed by Southern Oil, the maker of the B-well, African Gold and Nuts About Cooking brands.


Each year, Brenn-O-Kem receives tons of industry waste from cellars in South Africa. The waste materials are trucked to both Wolseley and Worcester plants where it is processed and recycled into valuable products, from grape seed extract to cream of tartar.


Blür Beauty Coffee Body Scrub helps in stimulating blood flow. The coffee by-product contains caffeine, which stimulates dilation of the skin’s surface.

Beauty Products made from recycled coffee grinds – acquired from Cape Town’s Truth Coffee. This is blended with essential oils such as patchouli, broccoli and almond for the Body Scrub and with an apricot exfoliator in the Face Scrub. As its primary ingredient, the serum uses a coffee oil, also acquired from recycled coffee grinds, and fuses it with other active oils including lemongrass, eucalyptus and grapefruit.


This company is an example of what a staggering variety of goods can be made from “waste ingredients”- saving the earth, saving money and even making money. Confectionary factories and bakeries that uses banana peels to make products healthier and better tasting. Personal care products like BYBI, committed to producing skincare with the lowest possible environmental footprint. The organisation also has a range of household products as well as pet products and treats under the brand umbrella.


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