Recycling food waste and contributing to green energy: Plans after COP26

Among the many memorable discussions at the recently concluded COP26 summit in Glasgow, one of the most prominent was the talk on food waste recycling on November 6, which also happened to be Nature Day.

An alliance of organics recycling associations from countries including the UK, Ireland, Europe, the US and Canada, spoke about the need to recycle food and garden waste to restore biodiversity and aid in water conservation and food security.

They further added that tackling the global food waste crisis would be instrumental to ‘put the brakes on greenhouse gas emissions’ and that immediate action was of the essence in achieving the desired results.

Who does the Alliance consist of?

The Alliance that spoke at COP26 is a global conglomeration of official bodies, including:

  • European Compost Network (ECN)
  • The Compost Council of Canada (CCC)
  • United States Composting Council (USCC)
  • International Solid Waste Association (ISWA)
  • Australian Organics Recycling Association (AORA)
  • Compost Research & Education Foundation (CREF)
  • Waste Management Institute of New Zealand (WasteMINZ)
  • Composting and Anaerobic Digestion Association of Ireland (CRE)
  • The Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA)

Food waste and climate change

Earlier COP26 discussions had already identified food waste as one of the priority areas to tackle concerning climate change.

World Bank data shows that around 5% of greenhouse gas emissions (equivalent to about 1.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide) came from solid waste treatment and disposal. Food waste accounted for around 50% of the overall emissions.

At COP26, the global Alliance talked of how every individual and every organisation could contribute towards mitigating climate change by recycling their unavoidable food and organic waste sustainability and efficiently.

While individuals could do so through recycling measures in their garden, such as use of compost heaps, companies could invest in large-scale systems to convert the waste into carbon-rich nutrient sources for the soil.

By returning this matter to the soil, fertility and biodiversity could be preserved, and climate change could also be checked. Speak to Waste2ES to find out more about these systems!

Restoring soil biodiversity

The Alliance stated during their presentation that as per FAO, 95% of global food supplies could trace their origin back to the soil, directly or indirectly.

Soil fertility depends on its structure and biodiversity, including its stores of organic matter and the natural activity of animals and microorganisms.

By restoring recycled food waste to the soil, it can yield abundant food resources that can help end the food insecurity that still affects many countries.

In addition, soil serves as the planet’s biggest terrestrial carbon sink. Replenishment of its natural nutrients and pH balance could significantly assist with trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and thus reducing global warming.

Moreover, the Alliance pointed out that organic recycling of food waste is highly scalable and affordable, making it feasible to implement at the local community level while also helping with renewable energy production. This makes it an ideal option for countries that rely primarily on agriculture.

A turning point for climate change

The magnitude of COP26 and the number of dignitaries present, and the number of eyeballs it garnered made it a potential turning point for the future of climate change and temperature increase.

Several tonnes of food go unnecessarily to waste every year, and disposing of them via harmful and dated practices such as landfill or incineration leads to significant air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

By committing to recycling waste through systems that can turn them into natural nutrient sources for the soil, countries can restore the natural balance of the soil while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions significantly.

On behalf of the Alliance, Jenny Grant, the head of organics and natural capital at REA, agreed that with such a high proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions being generated from waste treatment and disposal, an agreement is necessary.

The recycling of unavoidable organic wastes is an immediate opportunity to help end global temperature rises with a decisive intervention.

It is literally time for and to change.

There is no doubt that the 2020s are going to be the determining decade for climate change mitigation and reversal across the globe. Given that Britain has set itself a Net Zero target for 2050, eliminating its net carbon emissions is very much on the cards.

However, meeting this ambitious objective requires systematic investment in alternative energy options. If you are keen to know how your business can contribute to the green energy revolution, why not speak to one of our experts today? Would you mind filling out the form or emailing us at

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