Food waste is no small issue. Shockingly, around the world, a third of all food produced for human consumption is wasted. Of course, some of this may be unavoidable (such as bones and eggshells), but the volume of avoidable food waste is still significant.
Many consumers don’t consider the environmental impact that food waste brings, which is comprised of the resources used to produce the food, such as the land, water, energy, labour, inputs and capital, but also the emissions from decomposing food waste in landfill. One such gas given off from this is Methane, which is significantly more potent as a heat-trapping gas than Carbon Dioxide.
In Hong Kong, food waste accounts for around 30% of all municipal solid waste, and unfortunately a large volume (3,585 tonnes to be precise) is disposed of in landfill every day, the equivalent of 250 double decker buses! Rather concerningly this trend is going in the wrong direction. In 2007, 25% of food waste was coming from commercial sources, but fast-forward 10 years and we now see 35% of food waste coming from commercial sources. So, action has to be taken.
This month at our Sustainability Breakfast event, we heard from two innovative organisations who are each tackling the food waste problem with their own solutions.
Shawn Cheng, Co-Founder of Hong Kong Organic Waste Recycling Centre and FoodCycle+, demonstrated how he promotes organic waste recycling with local farming. The business has integrated a ‘waste-to-farm-to-table’ concept. From the food waste collected, some is upcycled to become animal feed for chickens and fish. Additionally, other organic food waste collected is used for compost to grow fresh, high quality vegetables on their own farm. A truly remarkable example of closed loop food waste recycling! To top it off, FoodCycle+’s produce is all organic certified with HKORC.
Offering an alternative solution, was Anne Copeland, Founding Partner of ORCA Asia. In addition to the environmental challenges posed above, Anne highlighted the dependency on trucks, leading to traffic congestion, and the lack of transparency in food waste disposal, with uncertain destinations and variable costs. ORCA offers hyperlocal solutions to food waste, by taking the transportation impact out of the equation. ORCA explained that through their technology – digesters of various sizes that can be installed directly into commercial kitchens – the process of anaerobic digestion enables a natural, biological process by which purpose driven bacteria use oxygen to breakdown food waste into simpler substances such as water, carbon dioxide and minerals.
Source: ORCA Asia
The environmentally safe liquid is then safely sent through the sanitary drain where it is eventually repurposed at a water treatment plant, where it can be used to create renewable, sustainable energy.
At Food Made Good we appreciate that the suitability of both of these methods varies between each of our members. However, we approve of both of the solutions for their contribution to reducing food waste, and we applaud our members who have already taken strides to reduce their own food waste.
Special thanks to our ongoing sponsor Oatly and to Richard Ekkebus and the team at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong for hosting the event and providing outrageously delicious food. In the spirit of no food waste, we were sure to finish all of the breakfast items!
Food Images: The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong