Challenge: What to do with waste
There are generally two kinds of food waste – edible and inedible. Edible food waste is fit for human consumption. Inedible food waste is not fit for human consumption; however, it may still be usable for animal consumption or for creating compost.
According to the food waste management hierarchy, although the most preferable option would be to reduce waste, sometimes food waste is inevitable. Source reduction, followed by food donation is the most preferable, as it is the most beneficial for society and environment. Energy recovery – feeding animals, followed by composting and anaerobic digestion or less preferable, but better than landfill or incineration, which are the least preferable options.
In the food waste management hierarchy, saving excess food, followed by donating food, followed by composting/energy recovery, are the options presented in reuse and redistribution.
As such, there are many different ways to handle food waste; how you do it will depend on the infrastructure available both within your organisation and its property, and your municipality.
Having a reliable partner for donations can make all the difference. Here is a list of organisations across the globe that help redistribute quality excess food, as well as inedible food waste.
If avoiding landfill is simply impossible, we urge you to contact your local politicians and lawmakers to consider putting some infrastructure in place or to consider exploring possible areas of cooperation. Take it from these examples:
- The Hong Kong government has developed a Food & Yard Waste Plan for 2014-2022. The plan sees the need to change habits to be more sustainable and sets a goal for 2022 to reduce food waste to landfills from 3,600 tonnes/day to around 2,160 tonnes/day (a reduction of about 500,000 tonnes/year) over the course of 8 years.
- In Italy, Senate has passed a bill offering incentives to businesses that donate excess food and also funds programmes to tackle food waste in hospitals and schools.
- In France, supermarkets must give unsold food to charities.
- In Abu Dhabi, a tariff system charges certain sectors (construction, commercial, industrial, includes hospitality) per ton of waste generated. The top 5% of waste producers must also provide an audit report. (Pirani and Arafat, 2016)
- In Australia, OzHarvest has worked to make sure that food donations are covered in Good Samaritan Laws
Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health recently published “Governmental Plans to Address Waste of Food,” which reviews governmental plans to address food waste around the world with a focus on the US.
Contact Scholars of Sustenance Thailand (Thai-SOS) for more information about how you can contact your local lawmakers.
The development of local networks is of vital importance. Strong networks with local suppliers and producers help to overcome certain obstacles on the way towards a more sustainable food policy and practice.