Having the odour of food waste permeate your home, office space, or any other establishment can ruin even the best of days. The matter of efficient food waste disposal is an increasing concern for neighbourhoods everywhere. The UK is no exception.
That is mainly because food waste – when disposed of efficiently – can return its nutrients to the environment. This, however, is only possible if food waste is segregated from other types of waste such as glass, plastic or paper – which does not always happen.
Much of it just gets dumped in the dustbin along with other kinds of waste, which hinders effective recycling and often leads to landfill or incineration as the only feasible ways of disposal. That often leads to an increase in soil contamination and air pollution.
What is more, inefficiencies in food waste management occurs not only in households but also in restaurants and food businesses. Thus, there is a clear need to take collective action on a problem that can potentially be addressed relatively easily.
What is "wet waste?"
Wet waste constitutes the biodegradable, unused portions of fruits, vegetables, food items and flowers generated industrially and domestically. It is easy to segregate from other types of waste and dispose of in the green bin.
Wet waste disposal reduces the amount of waste being sent to landfill and reduces environmental pollution, as fewer pollutants are entering the soil and fewer harmful gases entering the atmosphere.
Composting to manage kitchen waste
Composting is by far the easiest way to dispose of kitchen waste, both domestic and industrial. It essentially involves disintegrating food waste in garden soil. The latter then absorbs all the nutrients and thus become more fertile. There are two types of composting:
2. Improved food labelling
2. Business composting
This happens on a large scale to produce compost that is then sold commercially. It helps keep the community clean and involves decomposing leaves and recyclable organic materials. Compost is created from this raw material, which is then used on farms or in residential areas or sold to consumers.
Of course, this is one way of reducing waste but the benefits are lost to the business creating them. That brings us to Anaerobic Digestion.
Anaerobic Digestion for on-site energy generation
The word ‘anaerobic’ means ‘in the absence of oxygen’. The AD technology mainly involves the decomposition of organic waste in a sealed oxygen-free digester tank to create bio-fertiliser and biogas.
Biogas is produced in the process of Anaerobic Digestion. It is rich in methane and can be converted into renewable energy (heat, cooling and electricity) for onsite usage, or into biomethane for use as a vehicle fuel.
This lessens the business’ dependency on fossil fuels, leading to saved costs and less air pollution. This also helps to capture methane gas that would otherwise have escaped into the atmosphere and contributed to global warming.
Moreover, the semi-solid residue left behind after the digestion process – known as digestate – is an excellent fertiliser.
It is rich in nutrients and is easier for plants to process than raw manure, making it not only more sustainable than chemical fertilisers but also more efficient.
Donate within the community
Last year, FareShare, the UK’s biggest food redistribution charity, reported that the volume of its weekly food donations increased by more than 2X from when the coronavirus lockdown began in March 2020.
The organisation is popular for redistributing good-quality surplus food from suppliers and supermarkets among nearly 11000 community groups and frontline charities, equivalent to about one million meals every week.
In addition, they provide essential items to regional food banks managed by the Trussell Trust and other local projects. FareShare has recently switched up its business model due to the significant disruptions in the food and beverage supply chain.
One of their immediate actions was streamlining food distribution channels so that donations were collected on time even with fewer volunteers because of the multiple lockdowns in the country.
To dispose of food waste, UK households can donate excessive food using various food sharing apps such as OLIO to connect with people who need food and other household products and give them the required items for free.
Wrapping it up
The past decade has witnessed growing concerns regarding climate change and resource conservation about food waste. This has compelled both businesses and individual customers to process waste in an eco-friendly manner.
It does not take a village to manage food waste. With a little bit of planning and the right tools, it is possible to effectively recycle food waste, diverting organic matter from the landfill and reducing greenhouse emissions.