The process and challenges of food waste.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

 How Big an Issue Is it?

As the Australian economy begins the long road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, food waste continues to be a significant burden on the national economy. Each year, over 5 million tons of organic waste is directed to landfill, costing the Australian economy $20 billion per annum. These confronting financial statistics are further accompanied by damning environmental impacts. Food waste is primarily being transported to and disposed of in landfill sites across Australia, where it rots anaerobically producing methane gas which is 25 times more harmful than carbon dioxide. In fact, every tonne of food waste generates 1.9 tonnes of ‘carbon dioxide equivalent’ in addition to half a tonne of leachate. It is no secret that the issue of food waste must be tackled sooner rather than later. 

What does $20 billion of Food Waste look like? Thanks to Oz-Harvest

What Food Waste solutions are available and are they achievable? 

The ultimate solution is to generate no food waste at all and while there are solutions to avoid or reduce our waste, zero waste is not realistically attainable in practice. We must therefore look to solutions that recycle and re purpose organic waste in a truly sustainable fashion. There are many organic processing facilities and onsite recycling systems that produce a usable product (compost and or soil conditioners) that are available today which are becoming easier and cheaper to use.  

There is a significant challenge in doing this effectively however, known as inorganic contamination. This is the single greatest challenge facing the food waste recycling industry, creating dilemmas with the regulators that guide the re-use of organics. Contamination (primarily plastic) occurs in situations where inappropriate or incorrect waste is deposited into a system, as it cannot be broken down and repurposed with the organics. This naturally increases the costs due to further processing and disposal, and if missed could distribute harmful micro-plastics throughout the environment. 

There are methods and technology available to combat the above challenges. 

It is easy to neglect the need to recycle and separate food waste effectively. Many industries and businesses have a lethargic approach to waste management. However, it may be costing them more to neglect their waste. There is a growing requirement for industries around the country to re-educate and reconsider how their businesses handle and segregate organic waste.

We must raise awareness of the issue and the associated costs, whilst teaching the importance of segregating plastics from our organic waste. 

But is that practical?

For many industries, organic waste is the source of significant financial and operational burdens. This waste can take on many forms and is often the subject of industry neglect. For these industries, this waste is usually produced through the over-allocation of resources that inevitably leads to valuable supplies being thrown in the bin.

Organic waste can take on many forms; however, the most considerable concern we are faced with is food. We must begin to understand what we are throwing out and how we can reduce and save resources at the industry level. 

This allows us to understand the financial impact food waste is having at the organisational level whilst allowing us to implement cost-saving measures. 

Think of a high-pressure commercial kitchen operating at capacity. How do you effectively handle the high volume of varying types of waste generated?  

Understanding the costs to the organisation and the environment

Organisations spend a lot of time and money to improve their bottom line by streamlining logistics, enhancing technology, and outsourcing. Often though these businesses neglect the need to also look at how and why they create waste, which is a significant expense that can accumulate over time. By studying waste, especially in the food and beverage industry, substantial money could be saved not to mention the environmental benefits that can be achieved. 

Technology is now available that allows us to effectively identify how much and what waste we are throwing away. Businesses will now have the ability to characterise their waste and allocate resources and expenditure accordingly. Naturally, this will improve the bottom line of any organisation's outlay. 

As well as the financial benefits associated with waste identification, this technology allows us to identify and prevent the contaminants that affect the purity of our waste stream. The detection of waste and harmful contaminants means businesses will be able to hold themselves accountable for the waste they are producing at the source.

These technological upgrades not only allow businesses to improve their financial bottom line but also provide the business with significant environmental benefits. This is primarily achieved through reducing food waste at the source. Businesses will finally have the ability to reduce and eliminate wasted resources. This, in turn, reduces the costs and environmental restraints that are associated with their waste stream.

Understand how Food Waste can be reduced and repurposed.

In an ideal world, businesses would eliminate food waste altogether. However, this is an unrealistic goal. There are a wide variety of sustainable systems that can process organic waste once it is recognised as waste.

Sustainable methods such as composting allow us to aerate organic waste over a period of time, turning it into a usable compost which can be deployed on a range of organic surfaces. 

Additionally, onsite organic food waste processing is an easy way to process organic waste directly. These systems dehydrate organic waste and transform it into a pathogen-free, nutrient-rich organic fertiliser. The end product can be appropriately used on a range of surfaces such as gardens and is proven to increase overall soil health. Successful deployment of these products creates a circular economy for Australia as all organics wasted have the opportunity to be repurposed back into the land from which it originally came. 

Eco Guardians now provide the whole organic waste solution from waste avoidance to waste re-purposing and disposal. 

Once Australia fully embraces the technology that is readily available to industries across the country, we will then indeed be able to combat the pressing issue of food waste. We are now able to manage food waste at both the beginning and the end of its life cycle, creating a sustainable environment for our future. 

Please contact Eco Guardians for further information …..

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Thursday, September 17, 2020


Food Waste