Topic 1 Food waste system

Each actor of the food sector economy has a role to play.

The food waste impact of one entity depends on the:

  • Waste generation of the entity itself;
  • Food supply of the entity: if the entity purchases from suppliers emitting a lot of waste, the entity endorses this fact;
  • Possibilities to give a second life to food residues in the neighborhood;
  • Waste facilities available.

Local or regional infrastructures for waste redistribution or recycling can be developed upon regulations, political decision, demand of citizens or actors.

Source: Stopping Food Waste (2017)

There are two main ways to reduce waste :

  • Source reduction: Avoid to buy and produce unneeded material.

Cut out the cost and avoid the environmental impact of production, transport, packaging, disposal of unneeded   material .

  • Waste diversion: Convert the waste to another purpose.

  It can be kept by the customer for later, to be reused, redistributed, etc.

If food residues are not reused or redistributed, they are several options to treat them. Currently, the main one’s are:


b.Anaerobic digestion


d.Disposal to landfill

Although waste treatment options often depends on local policies, it is possible to act at your level as an SME by composting food residues.. Policies evolve depending on users demand too. Each of us has a role to play.

It is necessary to regulate waste management due to its implications in terms of Health and Environment, waste management is regulated. In this regard, the Directive 2008/98/EC on waste gives a framework and objectives. In this regard ,the Directive 2008/98/EC on waste gives a framework and objectives.

The Directive establishes some basic waste management principles: it requires that waste is managed without endangering human health and harming the environment, and in particular without risk to water, air, soil, plants or animals, without causing a nuisance through noise or odours, and without adversely affecting the countryside or places of special interest. All types of waste, including food waste, are concerned.

It induces the adoption of waste management plans and waste prevention programs by Member States. It leads to a harmonized management of waste but it induces price increases for waste disposal too.

The EU Landfill Directive also establishes some ground rules. For example, it limits the amount of biodegradable waste that can be landfilled. Biodegradable waste comes from plants and animals and includes food, but also paper and cardboard. That is one of the reasons why more and more countries are organizing separate waste collection for paper and carboard, but also for organic waste.

Here is the description of the 2 most usual processes to recover from food waste:

a. Composting:

It requires water, air and waste organic material. The compost generates heat during decomposition that will kill harmful bacteria that could be present in the waste. Different types of composting facilities exist to accelerate the decomposition process, like vermicomposting using earthworm, or aerated static pile composting where a pump is used to force air through the pile of waste. Depending on the available facilities, organic waste can be collected to be composted or it can even be composted on site.

There are more and more development of organic waste valorisation. DECOST project for example aims to decentralised composting in small town. By developing a new framework of waste management and building a closed-loop system of organic waste valorisation, DECOST integrates decentralised home and community composting systems with urban agriculture.

Source:Sanjeev K.A.(2020)

b. Anaerobic digestion:

Decomposition of organic waste occurs without oxygen (or with very limited presence of oxygen). Thanks to anaerobic microorganisms development, organic waste is degredated into methane but also organic acids or hydrogen sulphide and other substances.

Methane is used for heating or power generation. Remaining substances are used as fertilizers.

This technology can be used in a city higher than 30.000 inhabitants. In a case of conventional hotels, DESAR scheme could be applied with UASB system at neighborhood levels. Agro-tourism with farms and bigger amount of manure wastes can consider also an anaerobic digestion.

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