By now, everyone knows that landfill is the least environmentally-friendly way to dispose of waste. It is the only way out for some of the non-recyclable, non-biodegradable waste, but food? Completely avoidable! And the best part is that reducing food waste is much easier than you think. Read on to find out more:
Why landfills are harmful
The good news is that there are fewer landfills today than there used to be – 500 in the UK compared to 4000 in 1994. The bad news is that those 500 continue to be a menace to the environment.
WRAP estimates that 9.5 million tonnes of food are wasted in the UK annually, with 70% of this food still being fit for human consumption. Unfortunately, much of it ends up in landfill, which is not just wasteful but actively hurts the environment.
When packed in plastic bags and dumped, the absence of oxygen causes the decomposing food waste to release methane, a greenhouse gas that traps twenty times as much heat as carbon dioxide.
Landfills, in fact, account for 13% of the methane emissions in the UK. There are also the storage and transport costs involved in taking the waste to landfill, as well as the sheer waste of resources involved when something produced out of natural material (like paper) is dumped rather than recycled.
And finally, the land that is used for landfill can no longer serve as wildlife habitat or even as arable land – another loss of scarce resources. We at Waste2ES strongly believe establishments should take more responsibility and look at ways to eliminate food waste rather than rely on governments to determine what to do.
Trust us – our mission is to provide a holistic suite of innovative technologies to our customers to empower them to reduce the adverse environmental impact and Scope 3 carbon emissions. Adding to that thought, here is how one can manage food waste or reduce it considerably:
Simple ways end-consumers can reduce food waste
The first and best way to cut down on the food waste in landfill is to minimise how much of it you waste. There are several easy ways to manage individual food purchases and usage better so that you use up as much as you can:
1. Invest in meal planning
Before your weekly or fortnightly grocery run, plan what you will be cooking and what supplies you will need for each meal. Then, buy only those specific supplies. Without this, you are much likelier to buy things you would not end up using.
2. Buy in bulk and freeze
You can buy most pantry staples and produce in bulk. This way, you reduce the amount of packaging that needs to be discarded and save money too. And when you buy in bulk, commit to using what you have before buying anything new.
3. Save your leftovers
Leftovers can be upgraded in many ways to give you a tasty next meal while avoiding waste. You can add leftover protein to sandwiches or make stew out of cooked vegetables.
4. Use your scraps
One great way to use leftover bits of meat and vegetables is to boil them for stock. It is nutritious, tasty and free! You can also plant the bits of fruit and vegetables that can be regrown and build a mini garden in your kitchen window or backyard.
Simple ways farmers can reduce food waste
In the UK, food production is massively committed to meeting the quality standards of export markets, grocers, and other businesses in the food service sector. However, frequently, these quality standards result in edible food that does not enter the human food supply chain, causing unnecessary waste! Here is how grocers can manage food waste:
1. Forecast demand more accurately
As a grocery retailer, you can use forecasting software to crunch historical data and make predictions about what demand will be like over the next week, month, or quarter, so that you only import quantities from farmers and food producers that will be consumed.
2. Have an ERP system in place
Using the technology, you can help track orders, design more accurate inventory orders, avoid cross-contamination, analyse the shelf life of each product, prevent overstocking, and so on. You can save thousands of pounds worth of food just by keeping a tab on the numbers.
3. Sell upcycled food products at higher prices
Make good use of wonky-looking fruits and vegetables by repurposing them into products that health-conscious consumers are willing to pay a premium for, as they do with vegan and organic food. For instance, Barnana sells snacks made from overripe bananas, and Now Foods develops vitamin supplements from waste produce materials like orange peels.
4. Improve food packaging
Use recycled materials in packaging, note labelling expiration dates clearly, provide explicit thawing/cooking/freezing instructions, and design the containers to help consumers to take out quantities they need without compromising the rest of the contents in the packet.
How to correctly dispose of food waste
Even after using your food as efficiently as possible, there will always be bits that have gone bad or that you cannot cook with or sell. Depending on your lifestyle, diet and preferences, you have a few options to manage waste as an individual:
Composting is the simplest way to dispose sustainably of food waste. You can start a compost heap with an open or closed bin in your backyard or set up a vermicomposting area. And if you can afford it, or if you run a small business and want to process more food waste, you can invest in an electronic indoor or outdoor composting unit.
2. Chicken feed
If you or a neighbour rears chickens, you can feed them many of your food scraps (including meat). Of course, be sure to research what is and is not suitable for them to eat.
3. Council waste collection
Look up sustainable waste processing options your local waste collection service might offer, such as commercial composting or anaerobic digester. You can organise a drive in your neighbourhood encouraging more people to send food waste to those solutions rather than landfills.
Deploy our iD-R-500 food waste aerobic digestion system
Take back control of food waste management and retain its value. The super unit crunches double the volume of food waste but still retains a compact footprint.
It is ideally suited for larger restaurants, hotels, leisure operators, and healthcare with regular volume mixed food waste management requirements. You also do not need to segregate food from packaging. iD-R-500 can cope with lower levels of packaging. Do you want to know more about our iD-R systems? Please contact us.
Over to you
In conclusion, by taking a little extra effort to manage your food purchases and dispose of them correctly, you can save valuable natural resources from going to landfill. Composting ensures that food scraps re-enter the food cycle as nutrients, so you actively contribute to plant and animal nourishment. Do the right thing – commit to keeping food out of landfills today!