Excess, in other words, is waste. With the development of technology, we have entered an era of overproduction and overconsumption. Although we have become materially prosperous, the amount of lost resources and wasted energy is also increasing. Excessive waste also turns into a main culprit that destroys our environment.
To prevent this kind of waste, good startups are emerging one after another. They are creating technologies that protect our environment with creative ideas and bold execution. Thanks to these companies, discarded food by-products can be turned into flour, and electricity wasted in schools and factories can be greatly reduced.
“Food upcycling will expand indefinitely” Reharvest = 43 tons of wheat substitutes as by-products.
This is the amount of food by-products that Reharvest, a food upcycling startup, has revived for two years after its founding. Reharvest collects the malt by-products left after making beer or sikhye, and grinds them finely to make alternative flour. It is also known as Re-nergy powder. It is a word created by combining the English words recycling and energy.
Re-nergy flour has more nutrients than wheat flour. It contains twice as much protein as wheat flour and 30% fewer calories. It also contains 21 times more dietary fiber, so you won't feel bloated even if you eat it. Because it is made from by-products, the production cost is also 50% lower than that of wheat flour.
The person who directly developed the synergy powder is Myung-Jun Min, the CEO of Reharvest. A third-generation Korean-American, after graduating from university, he got a job at a consulting firm, and he was mainly in charge of consulting for F&B (food and beverage) companies such as SPC, Danone Korea, and Pulmuone. At the same time, he realized the problem of not having a virtuous cycle of food resources and jumped directly into the start-up front in 2019.
What he stuck to was a by-product that was thrown away after making food. CEO Min said, “For the first two months after I started my business, I visited food factories and looked for only by-products. He traveled all over the country in search of carrots and plums used in juice, red ginseng, mulberry leaves, and seaweed stems used in health functional foods.”
The place where CEO Min stopped his steps was at a sikhye(식혜) factory. There were piles of sikhyeak left over after weaving barley to make sikhye. It was clean because it was food. Even the nutrients were superior to wheat flour. Beer gourd from breweries was similar to Sikhyebak.
But there was a big stumbling block. Because the by-products of sikhye and beer were wet, bacteria grew easily. To solve this problem, we received help from semiconductor process experts. CEO Min explained, “We created Reharvest’s own sterilization and drying facility by benchmarking washing, grinding, and drying processes among semiconductor processes.” Beer companies such as OB Beer and Kabrew, who agreed to protect the environment, and Sikhyeok companies such as Seojeong Cooking (서정쿠킹) signed a contract with Reharvest to provide by-products. In January, they made 'Re-nergy Bar', an energy bar made from Re-nergy powder, and sold it on the crowdfunding platform Wadiz, earning about 100 million won in sales. When CEO Min secures more investment, he plans to invest in facilities and convert more than 50 tons of by-products into renewable powder per month from next year. At the same time, the company is preparing to launch products that use various types of Re-nergy powder, such as pizza and dumplings.
About 400,000 tons of domestic beer and sikhye by-products are generated every year. CEO Min emphasized, “Korea is just getting started in the food upcycling field, but there are many new business opportunities.”
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“How much energy can be saved in the building even if the housekeeper goes around the classroom and turns off the lights. The idea of providing an optimal energy-saving roadmap to those without specialized knowledge led to the establishment of a business.”
Nine Watt is a startup company that creates an energy reduction system by linking various data from buildings such as schools and factories, AI analysis, and financial services. Kim Young-rok, CEO of Nine Watt, who started a business after leaving the board of directors at the No. 1 eco-friendly and building energy consulting company in the industry, said, “Until last year, we focused on system development.
The birth of Nine Watts was perhaps a natural result. The four comrades who majored in U-CITY engineering at Sungkyunkwan University supported by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport performed a preliminary startup support program with synergy in the field of energy saving that they could do best. In the company that was created through this, CEO Kim took over as the head of the company.
CEO Kim said, “It is good to produce eco-friendly energy, but the more important thing is to reduce wasted energy. (the energy market) is still dominated by large companies,” he pointed out. He explained, “The goal is to develop a software-oriented energy saving market that derives optimal alternatives by using various data such as the land use information system of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, building information, outdoor air information from the Korea Meteorological Administration, and energy rate change information.”
CEO Kim said, “In a situation in which ‘ESG (environmental, social, and governance)’ management has become very important recently, many companies do not know how to do E even if they are good at S or G.” He also predicted, “We are also planning a consulting project to improve the eco-friendly management that companies lack.
Environment-friendly start-ups are on the rise
It is expected that more start-ups protecting the environment will appear in the future. According to the '2020 Social Venture Survey Results Report' released by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups last December, 50.3% of domestic social venture companies were mainly trying to solve problems related to the environment. Of the 1147 companies that responded to the survey, 20.7% said they were making efforts to ensure a healthy and happy life, 6.4% to promote sustainable consumption and production, and 6.4% to make efforts for environmentally friendly production and consumption of energy. In addition, responses related to solving environmental problems were followed by creating resilient cities (3.5%), strengthening sustainable agriculture (3.0%), and responding to climate change (2.9%).
Yoon Soon-jin, a professor at Seoul National University's Graduate School of Environmental Studies, said, "In addition to the recent climate crisis, the new coronavirus infection (COVID-19) has increased the awareness of environmental issues among young people. Various attempts will be made in the environmental field in the future because we are trying to do our best.”