Muffins and coffee are what you typically put in your body for breakfast –not what use to take if off your body if you spill your breakfast on you.

Researchers in Hong Kong are working with coffee giant Starbucks to turn food waste like stale muffins and used coffee grinds into ingredients for everyday products like plastics and laundry detergents, the New York Daily News reports.

Scientists at the City University of Hong Kong are testing the project at a food biorefinery, the kind of place that converts corn into bio-based fuel. Think of it as an oil refinery that uses food and plant-based materials instead of petroleum.  

The process involves mixing the old baked goods with fungi, which breaks down the carbohydrates into simple sugars, research team leader Carol S. K. Lin explained. This blend then goes into a fermenter in which the sugars are turned into succinic acid, something that is used in products like medicine and laundry detergent.

The research was recently announced at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia,

British supermarket chain Sainsbury's already uses anaerobic digestion technology to turn food waste into energy.

Food waste is a serious problem in the United States, with more than 34 million tons being generated in 2010, according the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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