Food: Too good to waste
Summary of food waste event, Raw Kitchen, Fremantle.
2nd November 2015
Encycle Consulting held a food waste workshop at ‘The Raw Kitchen’ in Fremantle as part of the Fest-a-Con One Planet Living festival. The workshop was aimed at generators of food waste primarily the food service industry such as hotels, restaurant and cafes.
The aim of the workshop was to raise awareness among attendees and guests on the importance of:
- diverting food waste from landfill
- the food waste hierarchy
- to identify barriers (perceived and real) for not removing food from the general waste stream and identifying ways to overcome these barriers
- Hear real-life case studies of what works and what doesn’t
- Identify destinations for the material
- (Possibly) save money
- Overcome barriers to separation of food waste and diversion
The workshop also included select representatives from the waste industry, including service providers, suppliers of technologies that treat food waste and representatives from commercial composting facilities.
Food waste is a major part of the general waste stream to landfill, particularly where food is prepared and served.
Food in landfill is far from benign, as it decomposes in the absence of air, the products include liquid leachate and methane gas. Leachate is a potential groundwater contaminant; rich in organic acids which can leach heavy metals from the surrounding fill. Methane is a greenhouse gas with over 20 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of carbon dioxide.
Benefits of segregating food waste include: reduced cost of general waste to landfill, removal of the heavy, odorous and vermin attraction proportion of the waste and driving better purchasing through better understanding of the food waste volume generated.
The food waste hierarchy
Removing food waste from the waste stream follows a hierarchy (Figure 1) similar to the better known ‘waste hierarchy’ which presents preferred options based on overall environmental impact. The best option is not to waste food in the first place as this means that the resources used to grow, process and transport the food is not wasted. There are a series of options where the food can be successfully used while disposal to landfill is the least desirable option.
Figure 1: The food waste hierarchy (Reference: www.mrw.co.uk)
- Consider what is currently holding back food waste collection (identify barriers)
- Identify requirements for a successful food waste collection service for the hospitality industry
- Establish a food waste collection service
 Methane (CH4) can be captured for electricity production at large landfills but the process is relatively inefficient (40%–60% lost on average). Maximum efficiency in Australia is up to 70% CH4 captured).