Food Waste - it’s not sexy
Food waste may not be sexy but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about it. Mid-morning chat shows openly discuss sex and yet it seems society is reluctant to talk about food waste.
Whether it stems from the childhood admonitions to finish the food on our plate, or the shame of wasting food amidst so much poverty, or in the case of companies concerns about liability for dumping or distributing food waste we are reticent to talk about food waste or even admit it exists.
Worldwide food waste is a major component of the waste stream and makes up to 30% of SA’s waste stream according to some estimates. Overseas there is a vigorous debate about food waste and its solutions. The discussion has raised awareness and resulted in a whole industry catering for food waste disposal.
At a house hold level the solutions include worm farms, composting and bokashi bins. There seems to be some awareness which is being encouraged; Cape Town City Council is handing out free composters on a trial basis.
It is the commercial users, the supermarkets, hotels and restaurants who seem reluctant to appreciate that food waste is a resource that can be utilized. Apart from one well known supermarket group and a few suppliers in the hospitality industry none of the big waste generators seems to have a food waste plan which addresses the core problem.
Problems of transport, containing rodents and smells are completely manageable
There are undoubtedly liability and reputational risks involved in disposing of off spec (food past its sell by date but not yet rotten) food waste and this seems to deter many of the generators from fully engaging. Donating the food waste to charities and pig farmers - while reducing the volumes - is not addressing the issue.
In the Western Cape we have commercial and practical solutions including composting, anaerobic digestion and a fly farm. Smart Waste has supplied the fly farm with the food waste from UCT’s residences for 2 years with no rejections. Problems of transport, containing rodents and smells are completely manageable using the correct containers and vehicles.
The costs of disposing of food waste in one of these ways is cheaper than sending it to landfill particularly if one is charged the special rate. And the waste generator can be given a safe disposal certificate which is independent verification for an audit. Legislation is in place to reduce organic waste food to landfill so time is against us.
Nature is the best model - there is no waste whatsoever. Isn’t it time we started talking about it openly, we have had the sexual revolution maybe it is time for the food waste revolution.