Food waste management is typically hidden in the back of our minds, if we ever even think about it at all. As much as people eat food, they don’t think twice about where the waste goes afterwards. For most people and most companies, food waste is simply dumped with the other waste, but is that really the best method? What many companies fail to realize is that there are actually safer and more efficient ways to handle their everyday food waste.
How is Food Waste Disposed of?
There are lots of ways to dispose of food waste, and some are certainly more favorable than others. Even though there are methods to properly manage the waste, approximately 1.6 billion tons of food is wasted every year due to improper disposal. Unfortunately, many companies don’t collect food waste separately from regular waste, meaning that it will just end up in a landfill. This means that the waste is not properly treated, which only harms the environment instead of helping it.
On the food waste disposal hierarchy, disposal is actually the least preferable option for getting rid of wasted food. In this context, disposal refers to waste dropped into landfills, incinerated waste, and waste going into the sewer. From there, recycling is the next best option, including waste sent to anaerobic digestion and composted waste. Optimization is also a better choice than disposal, including sending the waste to be used for animal feed or redistributing it to people.
However, the most preferable option for reducing the amount of food waste is to prevent these materials from being wasted in the first place. This means we should start reducing the amount of ingredients and raw materials we dispose of. However, even though there are many other methods of properly disposing waste, unhealthy disposal remains the most common, which needs to change as soon as possible.
Negative Effects of Dumping Food Waste
Like all types of waste, food waste harms the environment, especially when not properly disposed of. First of all, food waste creates greenhouse gas emissions, creating more greenhouse gas than all individual countries besides China and the United States. This is because when the food decays, it releases harmful gases, similar to the amount of destruction driving cars causes for the environment.
Wasting food also means that we’re wasting water too. Agriculture uses approximately 70% of all the water in the world. So, even wasting a small amount of food also wastes thousands of liters of water. Additionally, the worst part of the food waste problem is that many people around the world don’t have enough food to survive. So, while some countries are dumping too much food waste into landfills, other places don’t have enough food for everyone.
Proper Food Waste Management
Currently, the UN Sustainable Development Goal is to halve the amount of food waste per capita by the year 2030. However, at the current rate we’re going, it seems near impossible. Before cities can start making improvements, they need to start taking waste management more seriously. This consists of implementing new policies and creating systems to efficiently collect and process waste.
A report from the World Biogas Association aims to help cities improve their food waste management. They list a few processing technologies that cities can use to solve this issue, including anaerobic digestion, in-vessel composting, and liquefaction. Then, they concluded that they believe anaerobic digestion is one of the best options because it reduces food waste, creates energy, and promotes nutrient recovery all at the same time.
Anaerobic digestion is the natural breakdown of organic matter, which produces biogas. Biogas is a mixture of composted carbon dioxide, water vapor, and methane. It can be used to create many beneficial things, including electricity, fuel, gas, and heat. Therefore, not only does this method reduce food waste, but it also benefits our world in other ways during the process.
Every time we throw out food, we don’t usually think twice about where it goes, but we should. Food waste is just as harmful as other forms of waste, so it shouldn’t be ignored. Cities need to start implementing better ways to dispose of this waste and individuals need to be more mindful of the waste they throw away in order to make this world a cleaner and safer place. All types of waste management are important, including regular waste and hazardous waste. If you’re struggling with hazardous waste management in your business, let Hayward Environmental Consulting help you. Contact us today for a no-obligation quote!