Facts About Food Waste

Day 262 – Back on Day 216, I wrote about the app, Too Good To Go. The app connects people with perfectly good food that bakeries, restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses are trying to sell before being tossed in the trash. The food is offered at a reduced price, giving consumers a great opportunity to rescue food at a discount.

Well, that same app is also a great source of information. The Food Waste Knowledge Hub offers a great deal of information about food waste.

They cover various questions about food waste:

  1. What is food waste?
  2. Where is food wasted?
  3. Why is food wasted?
  4. What food is wasted?
  5. Why is food waste a problem?
  6. Where does food waste go in the end?

By being informed you will discover important information about why food waste needs to be a priority for everyone.

  1. Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year gets lost or wasted, approximately 1.6 billion tons.
  2. That means within a year, we waste around 51 tons every second.
  3. Up to 40% of all food produced in the US is currently wasted and 83% of this is either wasted in food services such as restaurants and hotels, or at home. Currently, a whopping 63 million tons of food is not recycled or recovered, but instead heads to landfill, is incinerated, or remains unharvested.
  4. Food waste occurs at all stages from farm to fork.
  5. The most wasted type of food is fruit and vegetables. Almost half of all fruits, vegetables, roots and tubers are wasted along the supply chain, while one third of all fish and seafood never make it to our plate.
  6. Up to two-fifths of all fruit and vegetable crops are wasted because they are ‘ugly’.
  7. Our food system, and with it food waste, is the number one contributing factor that drives this threatening change in nature through land use change, pollution, and climate change.
  8. More than 70 billion tons of Green House Gases could be prevented from being released into the atmosphere, if we cut down on food waste.
  9. Together, the world’s top five meat and dairy corporations are now responsible for more annual GHG  emissions than Exxon, Shell or BP.
  10. Currently, in the U.S, a whooping 63 million tons of food is not recycled or recovered, but instead heads to landfill, is incinerated, or remains unharvested.

In order to understand the problem, you need to have the information. Spend a little time educating yourself. Most people don’t understand that food waste is a global issue that has a serious impact on our planet and our overall well-being.

What are you doing to fight the war against food waste?

Tomorrow, sustainable plastic products.

3D Printing Food Waste into Usable Products

Day 233 – I first came across an article about a company in Milan, named Krill Designs, that is transforming inedible food waste into functional homeware products. One of the products is a 3D printed lamp made from orange peels. The “Ohmie” is a compostable lamp made from the peels of two to three oranges that are dried, ground into a powder, and added to a vegetable starch base. That combined material is molded into pellets used in a 3D printing process that layers the material into a textured shade and base. Due to the organic matter that makes up the lamp, the color varies. One of the coolest features is that even as it ages it maintains its citrusy smell.

So, after reading about the orange lamp, I wanted to find out more about 3D printing food waste into usable products. I found two very cool companies that are taking food waste and turning into something quite amazing!

Upprinting Food

Upprinting Food is a company in the Netherlands that is turning food waste into attractive, tasty food using 3D printing.

By blending and combining the different ingredients from residual food flows, purees are created, which then are being 3D printed by a food printer. These prints are baked and dehydrated for crunch and longevity. We currently have created several recipes, both bread, and rice-based, and we are working to create new recipes all the time. We are focusing on collaborations with high-end restaurants to help them reduce their residual food flows and to create a unique dining experience.” – Upprinting Food

Genecis

Genecis is a Canadian company that has figured out a way to recycle food waste and turn it into biodegradable plastics, which can then be used to make everything from 3D printing filament to packaging. Their PHBV plastic has equivalent properties to traditional oil based plastics, without the environmental costs. When the product reaches end of its useful life it can be composted within a month. If it does find its way into the ocean, it degrades within a year.

“Genecis uses biology to convert organic waste into higher value materials. The first product line is PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoates) biopolymers, which is used in combination with PLA to make 3D printing filaments. It is also used to make high-end flexible packaging and containers. In addition, PHAs makes a tougher and less brittle 3D printing filament. The end product is 100 percent biodegradable, and can be mixed with a variety of colors,” explained Luna Yu, the Founder and CEO of Genecis. “Currently, all PHAs are made from expensive food crops such as corn, sugar cane, and canola. Genecis has developed a novel technology that produces PHAs from mixed food waste, dramatically reducing the production costs.”

The technology is there to help numerous problems that plague our planet. Food waste and plastic pollution could be a thing of the past if companies decide to tap into these brilliant solutions.

Tomorrow, we are at a point where we need to cover our mountains in order to save the snow caps.

An App Rescuing Food from the Landfill

Day 216 – The Too Good To Go app is really making a difference on the fight against food waste. To date, they have saved 85 million meals from being tossed in the trash. The concept is very easy and brilliant!

Here’s how it works:

  1. Restaurants, supermarkets, cafes, bakeries (and much more) will, at the end of the day, see how much extra food they have left over.
  2. They will put an add on the Too Good To Go app to notify customers about the reduced priced food.
  3. With the Google Maps function implemented in the app, customers can easily locate restaurants and stores that sell the food.
  4. All the food is discounted, which helps provide people with an inexpensive meal, and it helps restaurants sell all their food.
  5. The planet will be happy as this is a very sustainable way of pushing “leftovers” to consumers and keeping food out of the landfill.

Too Good To Go hopes that the more people that use the app, the more food gets consumed instead of ending up in a landfill. On average, each meal you rescue from going to the trash is equivalent to the carbon footprint from charging your smartphone 422 times.

Lastly, Too Good To Go is a Certified B-Corporation and they’re active in Chicago (and many more towns and cities across the country)!

Tomorrow, celebrating National Underwear Day.

National Learn About Composting Day

Day 149 – I can’t tell you how happy it makes me when I hear someone has started to compost. A friend, my sister-in-law and my mother-in-law have all started composting at home using commercial composting. They have made the decision to reduce their carbon footprint by diverting food from the landfill and helping create nutrient rich soil, instead.

Today is National Learn About Composting Day! I have spent the last 6 months telling anyone who wants to listen, how awesome it has been to compost our food scraps and many other nonfood items. On Day 2, way back on January 2nd, I posted about how my family started composting using a commercial composter. I wrote about the ease of the entire process and how it’s not as labor intensive as composting at home. Now, if creating an at home compost pile is up your alley, I highly encourage you to go for it. However, if you’re like me, the simpler the better and commercial composting is the answer!

  1. We spend the week filling our bucket with our food scraps. We have a smaller receptacle on the counter that collects our scraps on a daily basis. Once, the smaller bin is filled, it is dumped in the 5 gallon bucket provided by WasteNot Compost (for $10 a week). The 5 gallon bucket is kept in the basement, where it is nice and cool.
  2. On Thursday mornings (the day assigned to us) the bucket goes out on the front porch. WasteNot picks up the bucket and leaves us a clean and sanitized, empty bucket.
  3. No liners are needed, in either the countertop bin or the 5 gallon bucket.
  4. Not only can all of your food waste go into the bin, but so can napkins, paper towels, wood toothpicks, popsicle sticks (wooden), pizza boxes, compostable wrappers, and soiled paper products.

The United States discards more food than any other country in the world: nearly 80 billion pounds, every year. That’s estimated to be 30-40% of the entire U.S. food supply. While these numbers seem difficult to comprehend and the situation seems out of control. We, the consumers, can help. We can decrease the greenhouse gases emitted from food waste, by keeping our scraps out of the landfill. According to the World Wildlife Federation, the production of wasted food in the United States is equivalent to the greenhouse emissions of 37 million cars.

There is no doubt that food waste is a global problem and it’s going to take consumers (produce 43% of food waste), restaurants, grocery stores, food service companies (40%), farms (16%) and manufacturers (2%) to work together to first, reduce our food waste and secondly, keep it out of landfills.

So, on this National Learn About Composting Day, take a little time to consider either starting your own compost pile or check out the numerous composting companies that will be happy to do all the work for you.

  1. WasteNot Compost – north side of Chicago
  2. Collective Resource Compost – Chicago and suburbs
  3. Healthy Soil Compost – south side of Chicago
  4. The Urban Canopy – Chicago and suburbs
  5. Northshore Composting – North Shore (Chicago suburbs)
  6. Block Bins – Chicago and suburbs – A great option for entire blocks to chip in on one bin!

What are you waiting for?

Tomorrow, sustainable options in footwear.

Composting: Where have you been my whole life?

Day 2 – While I was looking for gift ideas for the entire family to enjoy this past holiday season, I came across composting kits. It’s been something I had been thinking about for a couple years, but never looked any further into the process. The pandemic had me rethinking a lot of things and having most of the family home all day, everyday, had made it very clear, we produce a great deal of waste. So, the thought of composting became even more appealing.

When I researched composting a little further, I came across commercial composting. I also found two companies that offer commercial composting in my neighborhood, Collective Resource Compost and WasteNot Compost. They both offer similar services for just about the same price. I decided to go with WasteNot Compost because I liked the zero emissions component to their business model. They also have a pretty cool origin story.

On Thursday, December 3rd, we received our first bucket. The whole process couldn’t be easier!

  1. We spend the week filling our bucket with our food scraps. We have a smaller receptacle on the counter that collects our scraps on a daily basis. I tapped into my inner Joanna Gaines when picking out my kitchen compost bin. Once, the smaller bin is filled, it is dumped in the 5 gallon bucket provided by WasteNot. The 5 gallon bucket is kept in the basement, where it is nice and cool.
  2. On Thursday mornings (the day assigned to us) the bucket goes out on the front porch. WasteNot picks up the bucket and leaves us a clean and sanitized, empty bucket.
  3. Every week we are charged $10 for the service. There are other options, but the weekly service made sense for our family.
  4. No liners are needed, in either the countertop bin or the 5 gallon bucket.

I realize the cost may deter some, but I figured we could adjust our expenses to make room for composting. It’s crazy to think, but one fast food meal for our family could cover the cost of six weeks of composting. The entire experience has been so easy and rather gratifying, I can’t believe we didn’t look into this sooner. We are now food rescuers instead of food wasters.

Here’s some food for thought; 80 billion pounds of food is thrown away each year in the U.S., approximately 219 pounds of waste per person and 30-40% of the U.S. food supply. – Recycle Track Systems

Here are a few other composting companies in the Chicagoland area:

  1. Healthy Soil Compost – south side of Chicago
  2. The Urban Canopy – Chicago and suburbs
  3. Northshore Composting – North Shore (Chicago suburbs)
  4. Block Bins – Chicago and suburbs – A great option for entire blocks to chip in on one bin!

Tomorrow, I’ll share information about how to recycle your old Christmas lights.