Food Wastage in Hong Kong

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Food wastage
During lunch time, it is not uncommon to see that on the plates of the people sitting around you, there are leftover dishes which can literally be re-decorated into a whole new set lunch. In fact, food wastes account for 40% of the solid wastes in Hong Kong and a staggering amount of 3200 tons of food is disposed every day from households, commercial areas and food premises, referring to the figures of Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department. The three landfills in Hong Kong are about to be filled in10-15 years time. In view of this problem, three solutions are proposed including establishing recycling bins for different types of leftovers in housing estates, supermarket chain’s effort of selling unsold food at a cost price to food bank, and the implementation of recycling system in restaurants The solutions are not those which simply entail building food wastes processing factories but those which involve the concerted effort of most sectors in the city since no wastes can be reduced without the participation of business sector and households.

According to EPA(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency),the disposal of food waste, an organic waste which decomposes easily, to landfills is not sustainable as it leads to rapid depletion of the limited landfill space and formation of greenhouse gases such as methane, and wastewater. In view of this problem, restaurants which are of relatively large scale and have a formal wastes disposal system should build recycling systems which involve transporting the food residuals and uncooked food to composting factories and charities communities respectively. Similar to the “Food Recovery Challenge” hold by the in the University of Berkeley, the unsold food could be packed by staffs or volunteers and transferred to charities and food banks while the leftover food were separated for compost transformation in composting plant. Food Recovery Challenge should be implemented by restaurants in Hong Kong which are large enough that they would not be vulnerable to rises in cost as the scheme would raise the operating cost in the short term. However the scheme can reduce the purchasing cost and waste fees of dumping solid wastes. Also, it tackles the problem that most food waste from the "distribution" stage is not recycled including unsold food at supermarkets and lunch boxes and hamburger meat that have passed the expiration date at convenience stores. According to a research conducted by Sustainable Restaurant Association(SRA), 65% of food is wasted during preparation stage while only 30% are leftovers. Therefore, the suggested solution tackles the core of the problem.

The drawback of the scheme is that businessmen usually focus more on short term profit but ignore long term benefit due to the cost on the collection of undistributed food and. The managers have to take the willingness of staffs and shareholders, if any. Predictably, the progress of the implementation would be slow.

In addition to setting up a recycling system in specific restaurants, it is also desirable to set up recycling bins specified for food wastes. In Japan, such practice has been implemented for 9 years under Japan's Basic Law for Establishing a Recycling-Based Society. The recycling bins can be put in housing estates of larger scale as a pilot scheme since it can lower the average cost per resident that the government may have to afford. In Taiwan, after the recycling scheme was imposed, it has profoundly recycled 35%to 50% of food wastes. Schedule for transportation trucks has to be set so as to ensure that the wastes collected are transported away at the right time. Food would, of course, be processed in composting plant and become composts, pig food. During the process, the food wastes can also be used to generate electricity.Similar technology can be found in California , food scraps are converted into energy in treatment plants as the plant captures methane released while digesting food...
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