Food and organic waste in the circular economy

Food and organic waste in the circular economy

2021 / 05 / 26

Food waste or food loss refers to food intended for human consumption which is discarded without being eaten, where organic waste generally refers to biodegradable, compostable waste from homes, businesses, institutions, and industrial sources. Examples include food scraps, yard and garden trimmings, food-soiled paper products and biosolids.

Food waste is one of the largest contributors to landfill waste and has economic, environmental and social impacts - greenhouse gas emissions are produced when food is decomposing on landfill, as well as when it’s transported. These greenhouse gases have a global impact on temperature and weather systems, with the ‘greenhouse effect’ resulting in global warming.

Despite its negative impact, food waste is widespread and occurs throughout the food system, during production, processing, distribution, retail and consumption. The estimated avoidable food waste in South Africa currently amounts to 10.2 million tonnes per year throughout the supply chain. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation has warned that by 2050, a 60% increase in food production will be needed. This intensification of farming will need to be done without increasing farmland and by minimising food waste. In order to see and implement change we will need to start educating societies and encouraging all to start changing their consumption and waste habits.

Various factors of food waste have been identified and some of the most common reasons include date codes, specifically ‘sell-by’ expiry dates’. Many consumers are unsure of what the term actually mean as it can be confusing and once the item is in their fridge or pantry and has reached that date, may wonder whether they need to toss the product or if it is still safe to eat. We prefer the wording ‘’Best if Used By/Before Date’’ as it is easier for consumers to understand and less likely to be thrown out while it may still be edible. With an emphasis on the best qualifier in this term, it means the product should retain maximum freshness, flavour, and texture if used by this date. It is not a purchase-by or safety date.

Secondly, the biggest food waste contributor is food manufacturers and producers. Food waste can occur at any point during the manufacturing process. For example, at pre-production, there could be inaccurate forecasting of raw materials which may not get used fully and leftovers go to waste. During production, waste happens through spillage, spoilage or even plant shutdowns. Ingredient waste can also occur during the food production process from peeling, washing, slicing or boiling. Cancellation of orders, packaging, and end of sell-by-date products (again) are all causes of food waste.

By doing the best we can to curb food waste and actively being part of the circular economy movement, EnviroServ, as a leader in waste management, promotes and supports market initiatives on alternative to landfill solutions especially on food and organic waste.  We offer our customers peace of mind knowing that we have invested in all forms of alternatives that enable us to offer services such as composting, worm farms, animal feed production, black soldier fly and larva initiatives as well as anaerobic digestion systems. We have tailored packaged solutions available to suit the individual requirements of our customers, contact us today on +2711 456 5660 to find out how EnviroServ can help you.

 

 

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