The World Biogas Association (WBA), London, released a new international report May 16 to help cities manage their food waste.
The report, titled “Global Food Waste Management: An Implementation Guide for Cities,” has been written by the WBA in collaboration with the C40 Cities Food, Water & Waste Program, and sets out:
- the food waste management experiences of cities around the world;
- the best practices for preventing and reducing food waste;
- an overview of collection systems to ensure clean food waste is brought to treatment;
- treatment alternatives for inedible food waste, from composting to anaerobic digestion;
- the use of outputs from the various treatment processes and how to best valorize them; and
- the policies needed to ensure food waste is sustainably managed.
The report puts particular emphasis on the importance of separately collecting and treating inedible food waste, which if implemented on a global level, would have the same impact in terms of CO2 emissions reduction as taking all cars in the European Union off the road. Most cities around the world currently do not collect food waste separately, leaving it to be disposed of in dumps, landfills or incinerators. As a result, food waste is not treated and loses its potential to resolve a series of environmental issues faced by all cities.
The report also highlights the role of biogas technologies, which through anaerobic digestion (AD) recycle inedible food waste into renewable heat and power, clean transport fuel, and nutrient-rich biofertilizer. AD technologies, which are mature, ready-to-implement, and cost-effective, allow maximum recovery of resources for both green energy generation and soil restoration, WBA says.
The report was launched at Blue City, an incubator for circular-economy entrepreneurs based in Rotterdam, Netherlands. As well as presentations from the report’s authors, the launch also featured presentations on food waste and the circular economy from sustainability platform Holland Circular Hotspot, Amsterdam, and from Blue City.
“The time to fight climate change is now,” WBA President David Newman says. “There is no time left to talk, as we are set to lock in emissions for a 2°C temperature rise over the next five years. Cities have a fundamental role to play and a brilliant opportunity to seize in cutting emissions as over half the world’s population now lives in urban areas.
“Treating inedible food waste represents an opportunity to cut emissions while resolving other issues around energy, soil quality, waste management and human health in urban areas. The technologies to resolve all these (particularly AD) are mature and deployable now, and the WBA can support cities in their transition. What are we waiting for?”