Proceedings

It’s only waste if you treat it that way!

Gary Stott, Company Shop: PRESENTATION ONLY

(free)

It is recognised in the UK that at the household level we throw away around 7.2 million tonnes of food and drink annually, the majority of which could have been consumed. This figure is likely to be three times larger when wastage from the supply chain and retailers is included.  The cumulative value of this waste is around £23 billion. With initiatives such as “Social Supermarkets” to promote the reuse of food and to minimise food waste, and with smart data bars designed to make managing expiry dates easier it begs the question, “what is the role of energy recovery from food waste in the overall hierarchy for food waste reduction?

This conference considered, what are the opportunities for achieving a more efficient food waste management system? At present with over 40% of food waste going to landfill, it is clear that there are major improvements still to be made and thus it is both important and timely to consider the options for how this might be achieved. Solutions start at the top of the waste hierarchy, with a scrutiny of the food supply chain and an examination of the initiatives that both growers and retailers can introduce to avoid waste. The conference also examined consumer behaviour and discussed whether there is adequate guidance to inform people of the needs for greater efficiency and the opportunities to achieve this. As we move down the waste hierarchy, recovering the value of food waste via anaerobic digestion can be a viable option for those situations where there are barriers to either reuse of food or reducing food waste.  Research suggests that every 5.5m tonnes of food waste treated by AD can generate enough electricity to meet the needs of up to 164,000 households whilst also generating a valuable end product in digestate.  Thus it is also important to consider how the residual value of digestate can be optimized and ensure that it is used optimally in agriculture to enhance future food production.

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