Food wasteis an inevitable outcome of human consumption in modern society.
Home foodwaste results from preparation of meals and plate waste. Pre-consumer foodwaste, food wasted in its production, harvest, processing and storage, alongwith post-consumer waste resulting from over preparation of meals and partialconsumption contributes to a total of 31% or 66 million tons of food wasted in2010, of this food waste, only 3 % was composted while the other 97% went to alandfill resulting in 23% of methane emissions in the U.S., which has a globalwarming potential 25 times more powerful as carbon dioxide (Gunders,2012).
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The amountof food loss produced on a daily basis requires a management plan that willmitigate the environmental impact from disposal of the waste in landfills.While the means of disposal in many municipalities calls for waste to be sentit to a nearby landfill, this practice has been found to shorten the life oflandfills and lead to the production of potent greenhouse gases such as methaneand carbon dioxide. The more organic waste in the landfill, the more GHGs willbe produced. Waste age, oxygen, moisture, and temperature also influence gasproduction.
The volume of the food that we producegreatly outweighs the food that we consume resulting in large amounts of foodgoing to waste. If we are able to lower the production of food materials toalign better with our consumption rates we would be able to reduce totalgreenhouse gas emissions from production of those foods greatly. We can alsolook to smarter practices in production, processing, transportation, andconsumption of food that would lead to a reduction in volume of food wasted (Allen, Cancel and Orduna, 2015). Composting has been called both an art and ascience. This is due to the complicated factors involved in the compostingprocess that determine the time the process requires, the amount of GHGsgenerated, and the quality of the finished compost product.
A generaldefinition of composting is the biological decomposition of organic materialinto humus, the most basic compound of soil. Composting can be used as thecontrolled decomposition of organic material. Decomposition occurs by microorganisms thatsecrete hydrolytic enzymes that break down organic material and produce heat. 40different species of bacteria can be present in a compost pile includingaerobic and anaerobic bacteria, along with fungi and insects (MacCreadyet al., 2013). The ideal composting process differs fromthe decomposition that takes place in landfills due to the presence of oxygenwhich makes the process aerobic and therefore methane is minimally produced.
There is a possibility of methane production in composting, though, whichlargely depends on the method used. In general, methane production is reducedif aerobic conditions in the pail are maintained. There are many ways toencourage food retailers to move towards a sustainable food waste managementsystem. While the need to preserve landfill, space is one aspect of the need todo so, highlighting the benefits of composting food waste may be the mosteffective means to drive the change. There are many uses of compost in avariety of sectors.
This added value of compost could potentially provide a revenue stream from food waste managementwhich is typically a cost.