Do you know that food is a major part of the waste material thrown out every day?
Rotten or surplus food that is of no use is usually thrown out and goes into trash. The amount of food that is thrown out every day is enormous. Every year, almost one third of the total food produced in the world for human use is wasted (approximately 1.3 billion tonnes).
It is estimated that a usual household throws away about 474 pounds of food waste each year. In Canada and US 40% of food supply is wasted per annum. In New Zealand, 122,547 tonnes of food is thrown out per year.
Global quantitative food losses and waste per year are roughly 30 per cent for cereals, 40-50 per cent for root crops, fruits and vegetables, 20 per cent for oil seeds, meat and dairy plus 35 per cent for fish.
Up to 90 per cent of waste thrown out by businesses like supermarkets and restaurants is food leftovers.
Food waste includes;
- Dairy products,
- Tea bags,
- General leftovers from fridge.
All this food goes to waste and is of no use. This food waste can be used effectively by composting.
Composting is an environmental friendly technique and it converts our food waste into useful product.
What is composting?
Composting is a natural way of recycling things. In composting, organic waste that includes food waste, manure, leaves, grass trimmings, paper, wood, feathers, crop residue etc. is biodegraded and converted into a valuable organic fertilizer.
“Compost” is the product that is obtained as a result of composting. Composting is a biological process which done aerobically, i.e. in the presence of oxygen. Various microbes e.g. bacteria, fungi convert organic matter into compost.
This compost works as a great fertilizer for plants. There is a dire need to know about composting of food waste. Bacteria mainly need water, air, carbon and nitrogen for composting.
Know about the need of composting food waste
Food waste is excellent for composting. Home composting of food scraps produces five times less greenhouse gases than the industrial composting.
These food scraps would otherwise go to waste bins and water streams and ultimately create solid waste problem.
So, composting is a way to treat food waste and convert it into a useful product. It avoids the going of food waste into landfills and recovery plants. Most importantly, it is an environmental friendly process and no harmful by products would be produced from it.
Where to do food composting?
Composting of food waste can be done either at home or commercially. In landfills, food composting is not advisable as toxic waste materials are added to the food waste. The recyclable materials in landfill would mix up and cannot be used again.
Another drawback is that the huge piles of waste one onto other deprive lower layers from oxygen. It is recommended to compost food waste at home. This is not a very tough process and fertilizer for home garden or plants can easily be made. It requires less time and little effort.
Does all kind of food waste should be composted?
Not all the food waste should be composted. There are certain food wastes that are not good to be composted e.g. large amount of meat should not be composted because it will attract large amount of insects and its smell is also very bad.
Other foods that are not suitable for composting are oil products, dairy products (butter, cheese) fish. Vegetables, fruits, coffee, grains etc. are good for composting.
Composting food waste at home
Food waste at home can either be composted indoor or outdoor. Outdoor composting can be done in the backyard, lawn etc. Indoor composting can be done inside the house in special type of composting bins.
7 easy steps for composting food waste
A properly managed compost bin will not attract pests or rodents and will not smell bad. Food waste can be composted and following are the steps to do this:
- Take a composting bin made of wood and make some holes in it with the help of a drill
- Separate food waste from your house waste (leftover food, fruit and vegetable peels etc.)
- Collect some dry organic matter also like dry leaves, straw etc. Moisten this dry material.
- Now fill the container with soil. Then add alternate layers of food waste and dry organic waste.
- At the end cover this container with plastic sheet and do not close it air tightly to allow air passage.
- Compost will form in 3-4 months. This process may also take 3 months to 2 years time.
- This compost can be used as a natural fertilizer.
Besides this conventional composting, there is also another type of composting known as worm composting.
In worm composting worms are used to biodegrade food waste. Worm composting can also be done at home by adding worms to the composting bin.
10 benefits of composting food waste
- Soil would be enriched with nutrients and best for growth of plants.
- By food waste composting, the amount of food waste that goes to landfill would be decreased
- Compost helps water retention in soil
- Returns food waste to agricultural soil
- Clear landfills space by removing food scraps from landfill
- Help form low cost fertilizer at home
- Lessen the need for chemical fertilizer as this natural fertilizer would work
- Promotes carbon sequestration and lowers carbon foot print
- Lessen the release of methane gas from landfills
- Helps in restoring the recycling material by avoiding their mixture with food and ending up in soil having no use.
So this is all you need to know about composting food waste. This is the easiest way to avoid adding more solid waste on our already degraded land.