Attention to food waste in sorting

2020-10-21 Aino Heikura

Biowaste contains a lot of nutrients and energy that should be utilised. Bio-based waste can be utilised in biogas production, recycled fertiliser production as well as composting.

However, the fact that biowaste is often mixed with mixed waste poses a challenge to the realisation of these possibilities. Among mixed waste destined for incineration, biowaste containing liquid weakens the waste incineration process. If heavy biowaste could be sorted out of mixed waste, it would also reduce the costs and emissions of transporting mixed waste.

The waste hierarchy emphasises waste prevention. This brings us to the essential question: Would it be possible to generate less biowaste? The key is to consider ways in which we can make sure that no waste is generated.

In households, biowaste is generated from cooking, but also from food that is thrown away. It inevitably comes to mind that perhaps some of the food that ends up as food waste would still be good enough to eat.

So why does edible food end up at the bottom of the biowaste container? Perhaps this was preceded by poor plans and coincidences:

I did not plan my shopping list very carefully (or at all), so at the grocery store I bought products that were eventually not eaten. Maybe by chance that night my spouse also decided to go shopping and bought the same ingredients I already bought. Eventually, we ended up ordering food from a restaurant as we both were tired and didn’t really want to cook. In the following days, we were both out of the house in the evenings, so we just grabbed a few pieces of bread and a couple of bananas.

After a few days, we did an inventory of the contents of our refrigerator and noticed that the best-before dates of the products had already passed four days ago. Besides the dates, when opened, the food products no longer smelled like food but something completely different. At the time, there no longer seemed to be other alternatives than to throw everything out as biowaste.

So, it’s not at all a bad idea to think about a week’s shopping in advance, and that dishes made the previous day can be further processed into a new one the next day.

In a home kitchen, boiled potatoes are best suited for new dishes, and when you cook them well, you’ll actually prepare the next dish at the same time. When cooking, the use of one’s imagination and creativity, as well as a willingness to try something new, are surprisingly good food waste reducers. I am sure that these, combined with systematically planned visits to the grocery store, will make it is possible to reduce the amount of food waste and biowaste, even for me.

Aino Heikura, Regional Council of North Karelia. The author is a Project Manager in the project Circwaste – Towards the circular economy in the region of North Karelia

The article was published in the newspaper Karjalainen on 23 August 2020.

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