Food waste and its transmission are becoming a complex problem around the world due to the continuous growth of the world’s population. The rapid growth of food waste is posing a serious threat to our environment such as environmental pollution, health risks and lack of land for waste disposal. There is an urgent need to take appropriate measures to reduce the burden of food waste by adopting quality management practices. When food is suitable for consumption, it is called food waste or food waste when it is canceled or expired. This means that food waste is food that is suitable for quality and suitable for human consumption but is not consumed because it is discarded for many reasons. Food waste usually contains traces of sugars, proteins, lipids and inorganic compounds. Food varies according to the type of waste and its components. Food waste is rich in sugars in combination with rice and vegetables and high in protein and lipids in meat and eggs.
Globally, food waste is on the rise and has been causing environmental problems for the past decade. The issue of food waste is not just a matter of morality. In today’s world where about 600 million people are starving, the food that is discarded due to the environmental impact of production can no longer be ignored. As the population and urbanization increase, more food is being produced and more food is being wasted. Moreover, urban areas create an acute environment of food wastage which has negative effects on human well-being and public health and will affect the environment. For the first time in human history, more than 50% of the world’s population lives in cities, and by 2050, it could grow to over 70%. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), an estimated 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted worldwide each year, one-third of all food produced for human consumption. At present, food wastage has also increased in Bangladesh. According to a study, the people of Bangladesh are wasting about 5.5% of the total food collected. 3% of the total waste is being made at the collection and preparation stage, 1.4% at the time of serving and another 1.1% from the plates. Although Bangladesh provides enough food to meet the needs of its entire population, it is unable to provide nutrition to hungry women and children due to criminal waste. According to the United Nations, if only 25% of the world’s wasted food was reduced, there would be enough food to feed all malnourished people. It has been speculated that as Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated and highly populous countries in the world, there will be a food crisis if the problem of wastage is not addressed.
Food waste is an unplanned source of energy that decomposes mostly on land, releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Food waste is difficult to manage or recycle because it contains high levels of sodium salts and moisture and is mixed with other wastes during collection. The main generators of food waste include hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, residential bakeries, cafeterias, airline caterers, food processing industries, etc. Among the five foods that are being wasted the most are bread, milk, potatoes, apples and water.
Food waste is one of the major contributors to global climate change. Food preparation, processing and transportation play a significant role in food wastage. If food is wasted, these stages are to blame. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), food wastage is directly contributing to food shortages, water stress, declining biodiversity, and increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Worldwide, more than a quarter of food produced is wasted: food wastage and waste contribute 8-10% of total emissions. It can also spread bad odors if food is spoiled and thrown away. At the same time, food waste also contributes to environmental pollution.
The proportion of food waste in waste flow is gradually increasing and therefore an appropriate food waste management strategy needs to be formulated to ensure its environmentally friendly and sustainable disposal. There are two common methods for recycling food waste: Composting – a treatment that breaks down naturally occurring biomass waste by microorganisms in oxygen-linked waste or tunnels; Anaerobic is a process that breaks down biodegradable waste in the absence of oxygen, produces a renewable energy (biogas) that can be used to generate electricity and heat. Among the various types of organic waste, food waste has the greatest potential in the economic field, as it contains high levels of carbon and can be efficiently converted into biogas and organic fertilizer. Food waste can either be used as a single layer in biogas plants, or can be used with organic waste such as cow manure, poultry litter, sewers, crop residues, bound waste, etc.
Currently, about 3 percent of food waste in the United States is recycled, mainly through composting. Composting provides an alternative to disposing of food waste landfill, but it requires a lot of land, creates volatile organic compounds and absorbs energy. As a result, there is an urgent need to explore better recycling options. Anaerobic processes have been successfully used in several European and Asian countries to stabilize food waste and deliver beneficial end products. Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Germany and England have led the way in developing new advanced biogas technologies and setting up new projects to convert food waste into energy.
Sustainable management of food waste, on the other hand, is a systematic approach that seeks to reduce the waste and associated effects of the entire life cycle, starting with the use, production, sale, and use of natural resources and ending with a decision on recovery or final disposal. Through sustainable food management we can save money for businesses and consumers, provide a bridge for our communities that do not have enough to eat, and save resources for future generations.
Based on the well-known concept of “reduction, reuse, recycling”, this approach shifts the approach to environmental conservation and more fully identifies the effects of the foods we waste.
Food waste municipality is one of the single largest components of solid waste flow. Energy from food waste needs to be harnessed as a solution to rising energy prices and growing environmental pollution. Proper disposal of food waste is an issue and a concern in the environment. It has been shown that in the case of methane, converting food waste into energy through anaerobic processes is economically sustainable. However, besides collection, the difficulties of transporting food waste should also be considered. If food waste is stopped, the environment will be healthy and the country will be free from hunger.
The author of this article is a running student of Environmental Science and Engineering at Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University, Trishal, Mymensingh.