Almonds seem like pretty faultless food for the most part. They are an undeniable source of energy and can be used to fuel up without filling up on extra calories. Their milk is also a great dairy alternative, so it seems like they’re all-around pretty great. However, almond production can produce quite a bit of waste. But fortunately, this almond waste is being turned into beer, plastic, and fuel.
Every year, California produces 2.1 billion pounds of almond kernels. For each pound they produce, they create two pounds of waste, leaving California to generate 4.3 billion pounds of hull per year.
Now the USDA wants to revolutionize ways to which this waste is recycled. In the past, hulls have mostly been fed to cows and shells used for livestock bedding. But researchers are now creating renewable biofuel by compressing the shells and hulls, extracting the sugar, and converting it into ethanol. The sugar from hulls can also be used to craft hard cider and beer or as an alternative to high-fructose corn syrup.
The USDA is also working with several companies to use almond shell powder to create bio-based plastics. So far, they’ve produced a prototype fork that can survive boiling water.