food waste

Topics: Waste, Waste management, Biodegradable waste Pages: 5 (1389 words) Published: September 22, 2013

Food Waste? Too valuable to waste!

According to statistics from the Environmental Protection Department, in Hong Kong, solid waste generated daily weighs around 17000 tones, of which around 30% is organic matter (2700 tones) which is roughly equal to 120 double-deck buses in size. Compared this to the US where, revealed by the Environmental Protection Agency, only 12% of waste stream was scrap of food in 2005. Extra care in disposal is required for these putrescible wastes, otherwise nuisance to the environment will be caused. Food waste not only causes a feculent choking smell, but also discharges a huge amount of concentrated greenhouse gases, methane and polluted water, all of which are leading to the global warming that we highly concerned about.

All the food wastes are currently disposed to landfills, however all the existing landfills will be saturated within 5 years. Construction of new landfill is a problem because of a lack of available space that is far away from residential areas. Therefore, seeking out alternative ways for food waste treatment has become an imperative for the government. Before discussing cutting food waste at its source, there is another possible destiny for surplus food besides disposal – Food recycling. The food waste for food recycling can be categorized into two parts: edible (bread, vegetable and meat) and inedible (bones and eggshell).

Food Waste Processor
Basically, inedible food wastes are useful in that they can be recycled and reused. Through natural biodegradation by bacteria, all the organic waste will be converted into organic fertilizer and soil stabilizer.

According to the journal of “Food waste composting - sustainable organic waste management” (Jonathan, 2003), in some advanced countries in Europe, central food waste treatments has been practiced for years. All the domestic food waste will be collected and transported to central composting facilities which are installed far away from the residential areas. However, this huge facility is not available to Hong Kong owing to the limited area.

The Ecotech Food Waste Processor, a new technology for the same purpose is being tested in Hong Kong, including Hong Kong International Airport, housing estates and universities. Due to the tiny space of Hong Kong, it is well-designed for being used in small communities such as restaurants and housing estates which are the main sources of food waste. A large processing capacity 100kg per day is supported with a small sized machine. The automatic processor is easy to operate and is equipped with self-adjustment of temperature and moisture which are decisive parameters for the speed of reaction. Also, the specially formulated microbes and materials are used in the processor to increase the rate of biodegradation. To enhance the transportation efficiency, the volume of food waste will be reduced by about 90% in 24 hours. The composite fertilizer contains high nutrient value including nitrogen which is a major element for plant growth.

This new technology is suitable for Hong Kong, as it has limited space. All the food waste can be recycled and become useful materials rather than being disposed in landfill. Besides reducing the load of landfill, the valuable organic materials, which are transformed from the “waste”, are nutrients to our health and the Earth. Since vegetables grown by organic fertilizer is much healthier to human than those grown by chemical fertilizer. Therefore, this processor should be widely used in Hong Kong in order to minimize the amount of food waste and raise public awareness of this exigent problem.

Surplus Food Donation
The Environmental Protection Department stated that “the amount of food wasted by Hong Kong's restaurants, hotels, and food manufacturers has more than doubled in the past five years.”

Effort should be focused on collecting leftover food donation as a huge pile of edible food waste is created from restaurants every day....

References: 1. Food Waste Management in HK. (2011). Environmental Protection Department. Retrieved from http://www.epd.gov.hk/epd/english/environmentinhk/waste/prob_solutions/owt_food.html
2. Municipal Solid Waste in The United States – 2009 Facts and Figures. (2010). Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/wastes/nonhaz/municipal/pubs/msw2009rpt.pdf
3. Jonathan, W. (2003, May). Food waste composting - sustainable organic waste management. New Horizons, 3, 12-13. Retrieved from http://www.hkbu.edu.hk/~cpro/online_pub/nh0203/nh0203_12-13.pdf
4. Monitoring of Solid Waste in Hong Kong - Waste Statistics for 2011. (2012). Environmental Protection Department. Retrieved from https://www.wastereduction.gov.hk/en/materials/info/msw2011.pdf
5. Grace, T. (2012, April 19). The Food Chain. Retrieved from http://hk.asia-city.com/city-living/article/food-chain
6. Order Less Waste Less. (2012). Friends of the Earth. Retrieved from http://www.foe.org.hk/welcome/geten.asp?id_path=1,%207,%2028,%20150,%204310,%204566
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