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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Process efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions in black soldier fly larvae composting of fruit and vegetable waste with and without pre-treatment

Lindberg, L.; Ermolaev, E.; Vinneras, B.; Lalander, C.


One technology that implements circular economy principles is black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) composting. To assess the environmental impact of BSFL technology, more data on emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) and ammonia are needed. This study investigated process efficiency and GHG emissions from BSFL composting of orange peels and a mix of broccoli and cauliflower trimmings, with and without pre-treatment. Two weeks of substrate pre-treatment with ammonia or fungi (Trichoderma reesei) were investigated, and direct emissions of GHG and ammonia from the process were evaluated. Process efficiency was evaluated by waste-to-biomass conversion efficiency (BCE) and material reduction. In BSFL composting of trimmings, BCE was not significantly improved by pre-treatment, However, larval volatile solids (VS) load in the fungi pre-treated treatment was very low, likely contributing to low BCE. BCE was low (6%) in the peel control and even lower in the pre treatments, indicating that this substrate is unsuitable for BSFL composting. Material reduction was largest for trimmings (84%) and peels (60%) pre-treated with fungi. Emissions of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), expressed in CO2-eq, were very low (0.04-1.57 g/kg initial wet weight (ww)) compared with direct CO2 emissions (47-147 g/kg initial ww). Fungi pre-treatment appeared to make the trimmings more available to the larvae, while also drying out the substrate and removing a large proportion of available VS. Thus fungi pretreatment could be used to increase waste treatment capacity. Ammonia pre-treatment reduced emissions of CH4 and N2O without affecting overall BCE, but significantly increased NH3 emissions.


Ammonia pre-treatment; Biological treatment; Hermetia illucens; Pre-treatment; Plant-based waste; Trichoderma reesei

Published in

Journal of Cleaner Production
2022, Volume: 338, article number: 130552