Food waste

Most people would look at a mass of writhing maggots and see a scene that belongs in a horror movie. But Jason Drew sees opportunity.

Drew is CEO of the Insect Technology Group, which farms fly larvae at a factory in South Africa.

“The fly has an incredible future in helping us solve some of our problems,” he says.

For example, fly larvae can eat food waste that would otherwise sit in landfills, emitting carbon pollution. At Drew’s factory, the maggots munch on leftovers from restaurants and supermarkets.

“The larvae grow by eating that waste. That’s their natural food,” he says. “What they leave behind is compost. We separate out the little wriggly larvae from the compost, and we process those larvae into oil and into protein, and we supply that to fish farms and chicken farms predominantly in Asia.”

That helps solve another problem: Fish and poultry farms often feed their animals fishmeal, which is made from wild-caught fish.

“We need to find ways of feeding those animals without imposing further on our natural ecosystems,” Drew says.

The maggot meal provides a new source of protein. So while farming fly larvae may sound gross, the approach is buzzing with potential.

Reporting credit: Stephanie Manuzak/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Diana Madson

Diana Madson contributed regularly to Yale Climate Connections from 2014 to 2021. She enjoys exploring U.S.-based stories about unexpected and innovative solutions to climate change. In addition to her...