The waste management hierarchy suggests that reduce, reuse and recycling should always be given preference in a typical waste management system. However, these options cannot be applied uniformly for all kinds of wastes. For examples, food waste is quite difficult to deal with using the conventional 3R strategy.
Of the different types of organic wastes available, food waste holds the highest potential in terms of economic exploitation as it contains high amount of carbon and can be efficiently converted into biogas and organic fertilizer.
There are numerous places which are the sources of large amounts of food waste and hence a proper food waste management strategy needs to be devised for them to make sure that either they are disposed off in a safe manner or utilized efficiently. These places include hotels, restaurants, malls, residential societies, college/school/office canteens, religious mass cooking places, communal kitchens, airline caterers, food and meat processing industries and vegetable markets which generate food residuals of considerable quantum on a daily basis.
The anaerobic digestion technology is highly apt in dealing with the chronic problem of food waste management in urban societies. Although the technology is commercially viable in the longer run, the high initial capital cost is a major hurdle towards its proliferation.
The onus is on the governments to create awareness and promote such technologies in a sustainable manner. At the same time, entrepreneurs, non-governmental organizations and environmental agencies should also take inspiration from successful food waste-to-energy projects in Western countries and try to set up such facilities in cities and towns.
Used cooking oil can be easily recycled. All that is required the availability of a recycling plant and the used cooking oil to recycle. It is not a difficult process and anyone who would want to venture into the industry can quickly learn how to do it. They can then source for the used cooking oil and they are in the business of recycling.
Here are some advantages of used cooking oil recycling.
For your business
If you own a business, used cooking oil recycling is here to help you. Used cooking oil can be recycled to become fuel. If you are in the transportation business, you now have cheaper fuel for your trucks.
Further, in the agriculture industry, used oil recycling can be used to develop high quality organic fertilizer. This is fertilizer that you can trust to not only help produce healthy and nutritious crops but to also help balance and improve your soil in the long run. Organic fertilizer is much cheaper, and you can therefore make significant savings as you farm.
For your home
At home, used cooking oil recycling has numerous benefits. You will never again have your kitchen sink and drainage clogged by used cooking oil. Many people drain their used cooking oil down the sink which leads to clogging.
When you accept to be part of the people who want to have used cooking oil recycled, your recycling team will give you a container in which to pour your used cooking oil. Then you will agree on a day and time that they will come to collect it and leave you with another empty container.
For the environment
Another advantage of recycling used cooking oil is felt in the environment.
In many cities and municipalities, you will find numerous drainage systems full and overflowing.
A major cause for this pollution is used cooking oil. When it is drained in the sink at home and in restaurants, it gets into the sewage system, where it causes blockages that lead to overflow of sewage onto the city roads.
In addition to sinks, many landfills have lots of poorly disposed of used cooking oil. Recycling helps develop better methods of disposal, ensuring that none of the oil finds its way to landfills.
Recycled used cooking oil is also used as an alternative to biodiesel. It is much cheaper and easier to produce and does not affect the price and supply of food in a country or region.
For the economy
Recycling used cooking oil is also a boon to the economy.
With an improvement to the environment, it is likely that the country gets cleaner. This means that it can attract people from other countries to live, work and invest in your clean country.
Used cooking oil recycling also creates jobs for hundreds of people. It creates new jobs for the teams of people collecting the used oil from homes and restaurants. It creates high level jobs for the scientists who understand the chemistry of turning used cooking oil into soap or fertilizer.
With the creation of new jobs, the economy will have more people engaged and more money circulating in it. As a result, there will be significant economic growth in the country driven by used oil recycling.
For your pets
Used oil recycling also has significant advantages to your pets and animals. Used cooking oil can be recycled and turned into healthy, nutritious, organic animal and pet feeds.
Recycled used cooking oil creates high quality fish feeds and dog food. It also creates high quality pig and cattle feed.
Recycling used cooking oil is full of advantages. It can be converted into many things that are useful at home and in industry. It helps bring about a cleaner environment with fewer overflowing drainage systems clogged by used cooking oil that was drained down the sink. It also contributes significantly in developing organic farming affordably.
Food processing industry around the world is making serious efforts to minimize by-products, compost organic waste, recycle processing and packaging materials, and save energy and water. The three R’s of waste management – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – can help food manufacturers in reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill and reusing waste.
EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy
EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy is an excellent resource to follow for food processors and beverage producers as it provides the guidance to start a program that will provide the most benefits for the environment, society and the food manufacturer.
recycling/reusing waste for utilization by other industries,
feeding surplus food to needy people
Waste Management Options
Food manufacturers has a unique problem – excess product usually has a relatively short shelf life while most of the waste is organic in nature. Food waste created during the production process can be turned into animal feed and sold to goat farms, chicken farms etc. As far as WWTP sludge is concerned, top food manufacturers are recycling/reusing it through land application, anaerobic digestion and composting alternatives.
Organic waste at any food processing plant can be composted in a modern in-vessel composting and the resultant fertilizer can be used for in-house landscaping or sold as organic fertilizer as attractive prices.
Another plausible way of managing organic waste at the food manufacturing plant is to biologically degrade it in an anaerobic digester leading to the formation of energy-rich biogas and digestate. Biogas can be used as a heating fuel in the plant itself or converted into electricity by using a CHP unit while digestate can be used as a soil conditioner. Biogas can also be converted into biomethane or bio-CNG for its use as vehicle fuel.
Items such as cardboard, clean plastic, metal and paper are all commodities that can be sold to recyclers Lots of cardboard boxes are used by food manufacturers for supplies which can be broken down into flat pieces and sold to recyclers.
Cardboard boxes can also be reused to temporarily store chip packages before putting them into retail distribution boxes. Packaging can be separated in-house and recovered using “jet shredder” waste technologies which separate film, carton and foodstuffs, all of which can then be recycled separately.
Organizing a Zero Landfill Program
How do you develop a plan to create a zero landfill program or zero waste program in food and beverage producing company? The best way to begin is to start at a small-level and doing what you can. Perfect those programs and set goals each year to improve. Creation of a core team is an essential step in order to explore different ways to reduce waste, energy and utilities.
Measuring different waste streams and setting a benchmark is the initial step in the zero landfill program. Once the data has been collected, we should break these numbers down into categories, according to the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge and identify the potential opportunities.
For example, inorganic materials can be categorized based on their end lives (reuse, recycle or landfill). The food and beverage industry should perform a waste sort exercise (or dumpster dive) to identify its key streams.
Nestlé USA – A Case Study
In April 2015, Nestlé USA announced all 23 of its facilities were landfill free. As part of its sustainability effort, Nestlé USA is continually looking for new ways to reuse, recycle and recover energy, such as composting, recycling, energy production and the provision of safe products for animal feed, when disposing of manufacturing by-products.
Employees also work to minimize by-products and engage in recycling programs and partnerships with credible waste vendors that dispose of manufacturing by-products in line with Nestlé’s environmental sustainability guidelines and standards. All Nestlé facilities employ ISO 14001-certified environmental management systems to minimize their environmental impact.
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