According to the United Nation Environment’s report, 931 millions of tons of food waste was generated globally in 2019, out of which roughly 60% came from households. If we expand the statistics and refer to the entire food production worldwide, we reach the conclusion that 11% of the aliments designated to human consumption were thrown away by households. (United Nations Environment Programme (2021). Food Waste Index Report 2021. Nairobi)
The numbers presented above speak for themselves. There is a high amount of food being wasted in households, which has negative impacts on various levels including climate, nature, and economy. It can also help individuals save money yearly. Nevertheless, it is not necessarily the household's fault for the alarming percentages. It might be the case that the population is not yet entirely aware of the possible solutions that they have to reduce food waste. Right in the comfort of their houses. This article’s main purpose is to present a feasible solution for decreasing the amount of food being lost in households and its importance on a larger scale.
First and foremost, what is a household food waste bin?
The process of preparing a meal includes a relatively high amount of scrap that is generated. While following the recipes for creating delicious dishes, people need to find a way to discharge peelings, cutting, seeds and any other form of surplus food. Frequently, they toss everything in their normal bin which would then reach the final destination: the landfills.
Known in a few countries as the “Kitchen caddy”, the food waste bins are meant to allow a household to dispose of all of those in a proper manner. It involves collection actions and handing over to authorities for recycling purposes. The surplus collected can as well be used in composting. The usage of the containers has plenty of economic and environmental benefits including the fact that they are of good help in landfill diversion.
In some countries local authorities facilitate the collection of wasted food and encourage the communities to use them properly.
What are the reasons for using one?
Firstly, there exists a chemical explanation for what happens if food is discharged in landfills, together with every other category of waste. When food is wasted and goes to the landfill, its nutrients never actually return to the soil, as it would sound reasonable. In fact, it will undergo a decomposition stage when methane is generated. Methane is a well-known greenhouse gas that is assumed to be 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2021). Some of the methane generated by food waste together with other categories of debris contribute to high emissions of Methane. In order to draw attention to the consequences, in 2019 EPA has compared the amount of methane emissions from landfills with the emissions generated by 21.6 million passenger vehicles driven over the course of one year.
Secondly, the amount of food that would otherwise go to waste can be collected and then used for another purpose: composting. Compost can be, afterwards, mixed into normal soil to support the growth of plants, flowers and crops. Compost is an alternative to the artificial fertilisers and can be obtained by saving the amount of food wasted. When compost reaches the soil it actually enriches it, as nutrients and beneficial bacteria are contained. For more information regarding composting check Eartha's Compost Soup - Our guide to vermicomposting at home: (see link in the references)
Thus, if food is only thrown in the bins and it ends up in the landfills, it generates consequences. However, if recycled properly, that amount of waste can be used as a method of nourishing the soils which has a positive impact for the environment.
What are the economical implications
In the long run, recycling food waste in your own house could support the economy. By agreeing to collect the food wasted in their household and then hand it over to authorities, or composting it, people can help reduce the enormous amount of money spent on food waste. For example, In the United States, the amount of food wasted in 2019 did cost around $218 millions or 1.3% of the country’s GDP. (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2021). In addition to that, it is mandatory that states pay taxes and fees for discharging wasted food in landfills. These expenses take on a significant part of a country’s budget. This money could be used in other ways that can prove more beneficial for the inhabitants.
Having the option to discharge the amount of food that you are not able to use in your house is beneficial for both the environment and the economy of a country. The household bins have become mandatory in a few countries globally but should definitely be a common practice among individuals.
New section: What can you do?
If searching for another creative way of using the leftover peels, there is the possibility to generate a natural cleaning spray. It only takes water, vinegar and fruit peels and it could help save money that individuals regularly spend on chemical cleaning products. You can take a look at the following recipes that helps turn orange and lemon peels into cleaning products: (see link in the references)
Writer and Editor: Anda Codreanu, Henry Mitchell
2021 United Nations Environment Programme. (2021, March 4). UNEP Food Waste Index Report 2021. UNEP - Nairobi. Retrieved March 24, 2022, from https://www.unep.org/resources/report/unep-food-waste-index-report-2021
United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2019). Basic Information about Landfill Gas | US EPA. US Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved March 24, 2022, from https://www.epa.gov/lmop/basic-information-about-landfill-gas#methane
United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2021, June 30). Importance of Methane | US EPA. US Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved March 24, 2022, from https://www.epa.gov/gmi/importance-methane
United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2021, December 14). International Efforts on Wasted Food Recovery | US EPA. US Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved March 24, 2022, from https://www.epa.gov/international-cooperation/international-efforts-wasted-food-recovery
United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2022, February 23). Inventory of US Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks | US EPA. US Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved March 24, 2022, from https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/inventory-us-greenhouse-gas-emissions-and-sinks
Link to our Eartha's Compost Soup: https://www.foodcirclenl.org/compost-project.
Link to the natural cleaner recipe: https://bottegazerowaste.com/blogs/zerowasteliving/diy-cleaning-spray