Much of the waste that we throw into the trash is organic matter: food remains, vegetables, coffee, fruits, eggshells, leaves, petals, etc. It is estimated that the percentage of organic waste biodegradable reaches 50%, especially if we consume much fresh food. Hence the importance of recycling organic matter.
Food wastes is defined by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) as the disposal or alternative use of food which is safe for human consumption. Is it a recognised element of food loss and occurs at all stages throughout of the supply chain from production to consumer level.
Other elements of food waste
However, we can also consider anything which is related to the consumption of food to be contributing to waste. For example, plastic straws which are usually only for single use, paper plates, plastic cutlery. These food related products all contribute to land fill which many can be recycled, or even better – a reusable alternative utilised instead.
Economics of food waste
The generation of food waste has substantial important, economic consequences on individuals, families and businesses alike. The FAO estimates that a third of food that is produced for human consumption is lost or wasted, with the food currently lost or wasted in Europe being enough to feed 200 million people (FAO, 2011). The means a huge waste in resources, time, money and energy.
Origins of Food waste
- Domestic origin: coming from homes.
- Commercial origin: coming from trade, as food fit for consumption (bars and restaurants, greengrocers, butchers, supermarkets …). In addition, much waste is generated by expired or poor food.
- Another focus is the municipal offices and services, such as school canteens, offices, garden services and parks, events and parties.
- Industrial origin: food preparation and handling companies, agricultural cooperatives.
Recycling food waste in businesses
Reducing and recycling food waste is an easy task when you understand the different elements which can be recycled.
Composting is one of the easiest methods of recycling food waste. There are hundreds of items which can be composted, and they aren’t all food items – paper towels and napkins can go in the compost bin. Other items include:
- Fruit and vegetable scraps
- Egg shells
- Tea bags, Coffee grounds and filters
- Stales crackers and biscuits
- Tooth picks
- Wine corks
- Nut shells
- And many more
Whether you are an individual or a business, stop using and providing plastic straws, cups and cutlery and paper plates. Save money by investing only in washable implements. Businesses could even offer customers a reward if they bring their own cups or containers for takeaways.
Try to minimise the produce you buy that does not come in recyclable or reusable packaging. Fruit and veg doesn’t need to come in bags. If the packaging cannot be recycled try and reuse it. Alternatively, some suppliers will collect packaging for reuse, or offer discounts of you don’t require it.
Train the members of your restaurant in the recycling culture. Place clearly labelled containers for glass, plastic, paper and organic waste. You can offer some reward to the team that handled waste management best.
Help your staff by placing clearly labelled containers for glass, plastic, paper and organic waste. Don’t just scrap customers’ leftovers straight into a landfill waste bin. Encourage staff to separate food leftovers to compost.
Opportunities for oil
Pouring used cooking oil down the drain can not only block pipes but also contaminate thousands of litres of water. A potential solution for used cooking oil is sending it off to be turned into bio diesel.
There are many opportunities for recycling food waste. From composting to reusing packaging, recycling is sure to not only help the environment but also help you to reduce your costs and home and in your business.