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From Rice Production to Cement Replacement, Rice Husks Advancing the Circular Economy

What once remained as a wasted by-product of rice production is now getting put to good use as an alternative to bunker fuel and Portland cement. Integrated agribusiness and food unit Pilmico Foods Corporation (Pilmico) have found multiple ways to save the abundance of pesky husks from making their way into landfill.

Rather than further damaging the environment, the company has given the by-products another purpose by using rice husk as a cost-effective, eco-friendly alternative to its current operations.  

In 2018, Pilmico started using a biomass boiler to generate steam by burning rice husks to cook and sanitise the animal feeds. By recycling rice husks from partner rice mills, Pilmico was able to cut more than 60% of its bunker fuel use and in turn, reduce the company’s production costs and carbon footprint.

Naturally, burning the rice husks produced another by-product in the form of ash, creating another sustainable challenge for the company. Seeking out further opportunities to practice circular economy principles, civil engineers from the Pilmico Animal Nutrition Corporation (PANC) recycled the waste ash by supplementing cement in concrete mix. The rice husk ash reduced cement by 20% while meeting the facility's construction needs including using the ash mix in concrete slats, perimeter fencing and road gutters to prevent flooding.

In an interview with Business World, PANC Maintenance Mechanical Supervisor Michael Cayabyab said Pilmico will continue to use innovation to find sustainable alternatives to waste materials.

“Guided by Pilmico’s core value of innovation, we improved the original initiative of using rice husks for our feeds production process. With that, we are able to create more uses from the by-products of the by-products [rice husks] we are using,” he said.