Continental working to eliminate food waste

Unilever’s iconic Australian food brand, Continental is partnering with local innovator and start-up RipeNear.Me to help eliminate food waste.

Continental’s plan involves encouraging home cooks to use surplus produce from local growers in their communities and work towards ensuring 100 per cent of the vegetables, meat, herbs and spices used in their products are sourced sustainably by 2020.

Together, Continental and RipeNear.Me are bringing freshness and local flavour to Australia’s favourite meals and connecting backyard growers, sellers and traders with everyday home cooks to help them make responsible choices.

A specially-developed app, available on both the Continental and RipeNear.Me websites, makes it easier for Australians to use home-grown produce to prepare flavourful everyday meals. Consumers can simply visit the Continental website, select the Continental recipe they want to make, and when they enter their postcode RipeNear.Me will help them source fresh home-grown ingredients to create their dish. Likewise, when users put their postcode into the app to discover all of the local produce on their doorstep, RipeNear.Me will suggest some of Continental’s delicious recipes that will make use of these ingredients.

The partnership is the collaborative work of Continental and the Unilever Foundry, an entry-point for tech innovative companies seeking to connect with Unilever. In a bid to build and cultivate strategic partners for the future, the Foundry invited international start-ups to pitch as part of a rigorous pitch process. RipeNear.Me won with their impressive platform, network and brand synergies with Continental.

IAF technology for high temperature fats recovery

A flotation cell that allows fats and solids recovery in high temperature applications will be featured at FoodPro 2017 by Australasian and Asia-Pacific waste water treatment specialist CST Wastewater Solutions.

The company’s new Induced Air Flotation (IAF) technology – to be featured on Stand S9 – is a major advance on one of the world’s most preferred and simplest flotation technologies for industrial applications, Dissolved Air Flotation (DAF).

DAF is a tried and trusted treatment of industrial wastewater effluents produced by food, beverage and primary processing plants. However, it has shortcomings when applied to demanding high temperature applications for which IAF is purpose-designed, says CST Wastewater Solutions Managing Director, Mr Michael Bambridge, who will be on hand at FoodPro on July 16-19 in Sydney to answer questions about applications including:

  • Treatment of high temperature rendering waste in meat works.
  • Clean in Place (CIP) wastewater in food factories.
  • Quenching liquors in coke ovens applications.
  • Oil and grease removal from hot solutions, such as rolling mills.

“Applications for which DAF is suitable are integral to the economies of many countries in Australasia, Asia, Africa, America and Europe.,” says Mr Bambridge. “However, in high temperature applications (ie wastewater above 80oC), DAF has a number of limitations, including: 

  • The solubility of air is very low, so very high recycle ratios are required.
  • Cavitation is a problem in recycle pumps.
  • Higher saturator pressure is required.
  • Large cells are needed to accommodate increased recycle flow.

CST Wastewater Solutions overcomes these problems by introducing an energy- efficient IAF High Temperature Cell to provide a different method of introducing pressurised air into the flotation process.

The high temperature IAF cell uses a spinning disk to provide pressurised air for vortex bubble formation in the volumes required in high temperature applications.

The flotation cell is based on a multi-stage separation process, graphically depicted below, with an innovative internal launder to ensure the float product produced from the cell remains at the same temperature as the liquid, so as to facilitate sludge transfer.

This is essential to the efficiency of the system in overcoming previous barriers to high-temperature flotation,” says Mr Bambridge, whose company is widely experienced with DAF systems over more than 25 years. His company produces DAF and, where required, complementary environmentally efficient anaerobic digestion systems for cleaner waste water and local electricity production for major meat, food and beverage operations.

To ensure the practicality of the process for particular applications, CST uses a pilot IAF cell to assess the technology’s efficiency, scalability and design data, says Mr Bambridge.

“DAF’s great strengths as a primary treatment include relative simplicity in installation and proven cost-efficiency in separating oil and suspended solids from wastewater in applications as diverse as dairy, beef, pork poultry, grains, cereals and crops such as beets, cassava, potatoes, soy, wheat, corn and sugar cane. Compact and robust DAF systems achieve environmental sustainability by reducing Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) loading by the removal of high COD contaminants including fats, oils and greases, colour, organic matter and colloidal material.

“The new IAF technology extends the efficiency and environmental sustainability benefits into new markets, by extending the capacity of flotation systems to generate bubbles at temperatures above 80 deg C, the usual limit for DAF systems. This opens up the potential for new levels of efficiency in high temperature applications, which also benefit from reduced energy consumption.

“By eliminating bubble solubility issues at higher temperatures – including removing the need for higher pressures and larger cells – the new design is energy-efficient and sustainable over the longer term, as well as highly effective immediately upon installation in oil-water separation at elevated temperatures.”

 

 

Food security: we throw away a third of the food we grow – here’s what to do about waste

In the UK, roughly a third of the food grown in the field never actually makes into anybody’s mouth. For every three pigs raised on a farm, the equivalent of one will ultimately be sent to landfill. A third of all apples, perfectly good for consumption, will somehow be discarded. The message is simple: we waste food, and we waste a lot of it.

Food waste is a global problem, but in the developed world, where our farming and manufacturing practices are efficient, the food waste that occurs at these early stages is largely unavoidable (meat bones, egg shells, banana peel and the like).

Conversely, in UK homes – where 7m of the 13m tonnes of food waste comes from each year – 77% of waste is either avoidable (at some point, it has been perfectly good food) or possibly avoidable (food that some people eat, but others don’t, such as potato skins and meat fat). This is akin to throwing away one shopping bag in five as you leave the supermarket – with an annual cost to a family of four of more than £740.

Clearly, not all food waste is equal. The cost and environmental impact of a kilo of beef is much higher than that of a kilo of potatoes, as would be expected. And so with short shelf-life food categories. Fresh produce, bakery, meats and dairy top the most wasted list – and have the largest energy, CO2, and water footprints – and so should be the main focus for reducing waste.

Blame game

It seems too easy to say that it is the responsibility of consumers to reduce these ridiculous levels of waste. And it is too easy. A couple of years ago, Professor Tim Lang wrote here about food waste being a symptom of a much bigger problem, explaining that the relative low cost of food almost forces a consumer society to buy more food than it can eat. It is arguably the economic powerhouses (in this case, the food giants) that drive this through brand advertising, store layouts and clever pricing strategies. So the question is now: isn’t it the food providers’ responsibility to reduce food waste?

So much waste, but whose fault is it?
Dora Zett

Well, the answer is that both providers and consumers have a part to play. For the consumers, the argument for this is easy: wasting less food equals saving more money, and you feel good for doing less harm to the environment. For the providers (manufacturers and retailers), the drive is less clear: selling less food equals less profit.

Cooking up a solution

So how can food providers help consumers reduce food waste, but still remain profitable? There are a few options, but some of them are not easy to swallow. The price of food seems a pretty obvious place to start. Consumers currently spend around 11% of their income on food and drink. Five decades ago, the proportion was three times higher, so naturally people wasted less. In sub-Saharan Africa, where consumers spend half of their income on food, it would be difficult to envisage high levels of waste. But increasing the price of food such that consumers “value” it more is likely to be very unpopular – and such a move would fly in the face of the modern food industry and its apparently eternal price wars.

Looking at the statistics, it appears that a large proportion of food waste is due to products with short shelf-lives not being used in time. Consequently, there is potential for improvements in food processing or packaging and storage to increase the useable life of such products and reduce the potential for spoilage before use.

But given that leading supermarkets demand 90% of product life at the point of store entry, and goods already have extended lifetimes due to already excessive packaging and protective atmospheres, significant increases in shelf-life are unlikely.

A brave move might be to abolish “use-by” and “best-before” dates (we didn’t have them before the 1970s), but this would open up a legislative can of worms. Until somebody invents a device that can reliably tell whether a leg of lamb has gone off, I suspect these dates are likely to stay.

Time to shelve the use-by dates?
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You could just make sure you eat the food before it goes bad, but the nation’s already bulging waistline might struggle with this extra consumption. Food waste via overconsumption is yet another issue.

Delivering efficiencies

Perhaps the greatest improvement would be to completely change the food provision market. Consumers are like micro-manufacturers: they buy stock (ingredients) and use processes (cook) to meet a demand (their family’s hunger). But unlike manufacturers, consumers aren’t very good at managing their inventory, using their processes efficiently or predicting demand accurately. This leads to food waste.

There is therefore an argument for food providers to help consumers meet their families’ needs by selling meals, not food. It’s not inconceivable to imagine in the future people planning meals and then ordering them off the internet for home delivery – it might build better relationships between providers and consumers, too. Even if consumers pay more for food which is delivered when wanted and actually gets eaten, it would be more convenient and could well end up being cheaper overall.

Whichever approaches materialise to successfully reduce food waste, one thing is certain: there needs to be a collaborative, mutually beneficial approach for both providers and consumers. Only with this market-level change can we expect the amount of food we throw away to diminish.

The Conversation

Elliot Woolley, Lecturer in Sustainable Manufacturing, Loughborough University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Reducing food waste could put birds and animals at risk

Well-intended efforts to reduce food waste could threaten some birds and animal species, a new paper has warned.

Writing in the journal Animal Conservation, researchers have called for scientists to consider how food efficiency measures may affect animal populations that rely on landfill and other food waste to survive.

The warning comes as developed countries introduce new measures aimed at reducing food waste, such as sending expired food to charities instead of landfill.

“Scientists working on the biology of animal species (particularly those involved in research on conservation) would do well to make predictions, and test hypotheses, about how the food waste agenda is likely to impact the biodiversity of the planet,” the authors wrote in their paper.

Lead author of the paper, Iain Gordon, a professor of terrestrial ecology and James Cook University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor, Tropical Environments and Societies, said humans waste about 40% of the food we grow.

“So what is the implication of removing that waste from the system?” he said. “There may be some species then that face a significant decline in their populations.”

For example, birds that eat grain spilled in the harvest during stopovers along their migration routes could go hungry if farmers use more efficient machinery to reduce crop losses.

“Seagull populations have risen in the northern hemisphere because often they are associated with landfill. With the reduction to the amount of by catch and food waste going into landfill, seagull levels are declining,” he said.

Bald eagles are also highly reliant on food from landfill in the US, he said. If humans created less landfill, the bald eagles may eat other animals instead.

In Europe, the authors of the paper noted, legislation in the wake of mad cow disease forced farmers to bury or burn dead animals that would normally be left lying in fields.

“This led to a reduction in vulture populations to the degree that a number of species are now at risk of extinction,” the researchers wrote.

Consider the consequences

Martine Maron, Associate Professor of Environmental Management at the University of Queensland said the paper raised interesting questions but that humans needed to work harder to reduce their food waste.

“It’s a no brainer. Reducing food waste reduces the amount of food we have to produce and producing food creates a lot of problems for our wildlife,” said Professor Maron, who was not involved in the study.

“We just need to make sure we aren’t having any unintended consequences. And if we are, that we can come up with solutions to help any species that might suffer as a result,” she said.

The Conversation

Ninah Kopel, Editor, The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

More action needed on global food waste: report

A new report assesses the world’s progress toward Target 12.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which calls on all nations to halve food waste and reduce food loss by 2030.

Given the magnitude of food loss and waste globally, the report recommends nations, cities and businesses in the food supply chain move quickly to set reduction targets, measure progress and take action to reduce food loss and waste.

One-third of all food produced is never eaten by people. The impact of this loss and waste worldwide is tremendous. Food loss and waste is responsible for $940 billion in economic losses and 8 percent of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

The new publication, SDG Target 12.3 on Food Loss and Waste: 2016 Progress Report, was released on behalf of Champions 12.3, a unique coalition of leaders from government, business and civil society around the world dedicated to inspiring ambition, mobilising action, and accelerating progress toward achieving SDG Target 12.3.

According to the report, governments and organisations across Europe, Africa and the United States have taken a number of notable steps over the past year, but — considering the enormous scope of the food loss and waste challenge — much more is needed worldwide. The report offers three recommendations for leaders to meet Target 12.3 by 2030:

  • Target: Targets set ambition, and ambition motivates action. Every country, major city and company involved in the food supply chain should set food loss and waste reduction targets consistent with Target 12.3 in order to ensure sufficient attention and focus.
  • Measure: What gets measured gets managed. The report recommends governments and companies quantify and report on food loss and waste and monitor progress over time through 2030.
  • Act: Impact only occurs if people act. Governments and companies should accelerate and scale up adoption of policies, incentives, investment and practices that reduce food loss and waste.

The full report can be viewed here.

 

Australian communities are fighting food waste with circular economies

Around 4 million tonnes of food reaches landfill in Australia each year. This forms part of Australia’s organic waste, the country’s largest unrecovered stream of waste that goes into landfill.

There’s a missed opportunity here to recover this waste and do something useful with it. In particular, we can use it for energy such as biofuel. This forms part of a broader concept known as the “circular economy”.

In the absence of federal initiatives, state and local governments and communities are developing projects to foster a circular economy that can absorb this and other waste. This would then provide usable products to assist businesses and households and improve sustainability.

Simply disposing of waste in landfill affects households, businesses and governments. It requires time, energy and space, and poses environmental risks. When waste is repurposed for energy and fertiliser, it can give businesses a competitive edge, foster sustainable growth and create jobs.

The circular economy

A circular economy aims to bundle policy and business strategies into a system that works for everyone.

On a wider scale, circular economies underpin food security by reducing and reusing the amount of food waste, utilising byproducts and food waste and recycling nutrients as fertiliser.

While one way of repurposing food waste is to turn it into biofuel, a circular economy does not require all waste to be repurposed. Unwanted food can be given to the needy, or go into further processing. The idea is we extract every joule possible from organic matter, which may require multiple uses.

Some overseas governments have policies that compel businesses to keep their waste out of landfill. These countries are well on the way to developing circular economies. The star performers include Denmark, Japan, the Netherlands, Scotland and Sweden.

In Australia, the federal government has offered no such incentives. Instead, communities are taking it upon themselves to repurpose waste. State and local governments are introducing policies that offer incentives for recycling, or penalties for producing landfill.

There is a growing interest in co-digestion to boost biogas production, particularly for small wastewater facilities.

Co-digestion is the addition of other waste streams such as:

  • municipal wastewater/sludge
  • food and drink manufacturer process waste (including waste from the beverage, meat processing, dairy, brewing and wine industries)
  • paper/pulp waste
  • greasy waste/fats, oils and greases (from grease trap pump-outs)
  • residential food and green waste (via trucked collection)
  • residential/commercial food waste (organics rubbish bins)
  • food waste (from supermarkets or supermarket chains).

So let’s have a look at recent advances around the country.

South Australia

Commissioned in 2013, South Australia Water’s Glenelg wastewater treatment is Australia’s first co-digestion facility. The addition of food byproducts such as milk, cheese, beer, wine and soft drink has increased power generation from 55% to 75% of the plant’s power requirement.

The South Australian government is developing a bioenergy roadmap. The aim is to link biomass suppliers in regions to users of energy and help to support local businesses to add value.

Victoria

Yarra Valley Water’s waste-to-energy facility is a new co-digestion development at Aurora Sewage Treatment Plant, north of Melbourne. It will process 100 cubic metres of waste each day. The waste is delivered by trucks from local commercial waste producers, such as markets and food manufacturing.

Through Sustainability Victoria, the state government is offering funding through the Advanced Organics Processing Technology Grants program, which supports the installation of small-scale onsite or precinct-scale anaerobic digestion technology for processing organic waste.

New South Wales

Australia’s best example of a community-driven circular economy is being developed in Cowra on the Lachlan River, part of the Murray-Darling catchment. This proposal shows the ability of state and local government, industry and farms to pool waste created in and around a country town to produce energy and fertiliser, which can be used within that same geographic circle.

The project will use two processes: anaerobic digestion and thermal recovery through either pyrolysis or torrefication (the breakdown of organic material at high temperature).

At full capacity, the Cowra biomass project will produce 60% of the town’s energy needs.

CLEAN Cowra: Creating a circular economy through aggregation of organic waste streams. MP= Meat processing; FP= Food processing; MRF= Materials recovery facility; WWTP= Waste water treatment plant; TR= Thermal recovery; AD= Anaerobic digestion; CHP= Combined heat and power.
CLEAN Cowra

NSW’s council amalgamation process is also creating opportunities to link more waste producers and energy users through renewables that turn food, household and agricultural waste into power.

The NSW government’s Growing Community Energy grants have already helped the Cowra project.

The future?

The drive for communities and businesses to reap the rewards of extracting value from food waste is a result of an emerging trend in infrastructure planning, where the once parallel fields of water management, waste management and energy are teaming up.

It appears CLEAN Cowra and its regional and state equivalents are influencing the direction of federal government policy with relevant priority areas for ARENA being identified.

Whatever the driver, anything that can keep organic waste out of landfill has to be a good thing.


This topic will be discussed at this week’s Crawford Fund Conference.

The Conversation

Bernadette McCabe, Associate Professor and Principal Scientist, University of Southern Queensland

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

World food waste issues on the agenda at Crawford Fund forum

Two University of Southern Queensland (USQ) academics, Professor Alice Woodhead and Associate Professor Bernadette McCabe, will be sharing their insights into improving food security at the 2016 Crawford Fund conference.

Being held next week in Canberra, the conference is entitled Waste Not, Want Not: The Circular Economy to Food Security.

The conference is the premier annual event of The Crawford Fund, a not-for-profit organisation which works to raise awareness of the benefits to Australia and developing countries from international agricultural research.

Professor Woodhead’s talk is entitled the Last Mile Challenge, and will look at how the rapid growth of mega cities and Asia’s middle class has driven change in retail outlets and consumer purchasing.

As leader of the Agricultural Value Chains research program at USQ’s Australian Centre for Sustainable Business and Development, and as a member of the Australian-ASEAN Council, Professor Woodhead will be talking about the scope of the mega-city food waste problem and food distribution.

“In the past, most of Asia’s food wastage occurred post-harvest and during distribution to wet markets. The growth of supermarkets, limited cold storage distribution and more packaged food at supermarkets is increasing waste within mega cities,” Professor Woodhead said.

“Waste created once food leaves distribution centres tends to end up in open landfills on the edge of cities.  The challenge we face in managing this problem is immense, but can be tackled on a number of fronts.”

For her talk, Associate Professor Bernadette McCabe (pictured) will draw on her experience as Australian National Team Leader for the International Energy Agency’s Bioenergy Task 37: Energy from Biogas and leader of Energy Conservation Management research at USQ’s National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture.

Entitled Waste-to-Energy Innovations Powering a Circular Economy, Associate Professor McCabe’s address will scope the potential of waste-to-energy generators like anaerobic digesters to counter energy poverty and improve livelihoods.

“I will be highlighting some key innovations across the globe, with a focus on novel approaches being used in developing countries and how they can minimise the impact of food loss and waste,” she said.

“When combined with food security, waste-to-energy technologies provide a powerful case for city and rural communities alike.”

New sensors on packages can detect spoiled foods

It’s just a matter of time before many different foods have “intelligent packaging,” a term used to describe package features that communicate information such as shelf life, freshness and quality, according to a presentation at a July 18 symposium at IFT16: Where Science Feeds Innovation, hosted by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT).

“We need consumer-friendly sensors for products that say, “Hey, this food is fresh and safe to eat, or it isn’t,” says Claire Sand, an adjunct professor of packaging at Michigan State University and owner of Packaging Technology & Research. “We’re very close to being able to do for a multitude of foods.”

Intelligent packaging is already used on some medicines and food products, but it will become more widespread in the next few years due to the interest in reducing food waste, she says.

Time-temperature indicators have been around for a while and are widely used, especially on seafood packages to ensure the products are safe, she says. They take into account time and temperature which are tied to deterioration. For instance, fish or chicken left out on the counter will spoil faster than if it’s kept in the refrigerator or freezer, she says.

New degradation sensors work even better than time-temperature indicators because they actually measure products’ decay, Sand says. These sensors can be integrated into the packaging to detect spoilage and help reduce food waste. For instance, an entire package film may change color when certain chemical reactions, such as food decay, occur, Sand says.

Degradation sensors or time temperature indicators may also be small tags that change color when the product is no longer edible. In some cases, the bar codes fade so the food can’t be purchased, she says.

About 30 percent of food in the United States is wasted between production and consumption, Sand says. “Giving consumers clear direction on what food is still good and what food is past its shelf life will reduce food waste, which is a huge problem in the United States and other countries.”

As the price of food increases, consumers increasingly need a way to assess the quality of the food they buy, she says.

 

Blockchains could help restore trust in the food we choose to eat

Companies around the world are exploring blockchain, the technology underpinning digital currency bitcoin. In this Blockchain unleashed series, we investigate the many possible use cases for the blockchain, from the novel to the transformative.


If the food industry is not in crisis, it certainly contains an increasing level of complexity and associated risks. A recent analysis suggested 50% of US food production is wasted, with global estimates above 30%.

Retailers want perfect produce, leading to wastage occurring throughout the food supply chain. They also seek low prices, leading to industrialisation of processes.

Food scares such as mad cow disease (BSE) and cross contamination mean many consumers have less trust in their food, increasingly seeking information on authenticity and production practices.

Over 80% of antibiotics used in the US are used in food production. Farming practices lead to environmental issues and may exacerbate to climate change. Alternate “real world” models are being developed to address some of these issues. For instance, farmers’ markets can reduce food miles, and demonstrate localism. Gleaning, where people collect leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they have been commercially harvested, is becoming popular. There is ever increasing legislation and standards, though these tend to be national or regional, and often onerous to implement.

Recent developments in the digital economy could help. Among these are a growing use of sensors providing information to allow more intelligent practices to reduce costs and improve flexibility. Real time temperature monitoring and smart fridges in homes can help reduce waste. But a relatively new innovation, the blockchain, is seen by many as offering significant opportunities within agricultural supply chains.

Blockchains are the technology that underpin cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, but they have uses other than currencies. They record information in a distributed ledger in a way that is both secure and immutable; by being distributed among many users these ledgers are resilient with no single point of failure, and they can be (depending on design), transparent to all users.

Blockchains and trust

Described by the Economist as “the trust machine”, blockchains provide supply chain transparency and data integrity, allowing a visible assurance of authenticity.

A number of startups are exploring the potential for blockchains in agriculture. Most notable is Provenance.org, a small UK B2B software startup using the blockchain to establish the authenticity of high value goods, including food. They are experimenting with proving the supply chain of tuna caught in Indonesia being delivered to Japanese restaurants. They will use information on sensors or RFID tags and local certification, recorded in the blockchain, to track the fish along its journey from “hook to fork”; creating in the words of one of their founders, a “reputation system”.

Other software firms are developing similar off the shelf solutions for global tracking. Innovators are researching ways in which DNA can be recorded and tagged to an animal, and recorded in the blockchain. This information can easily be made available to end users and customers using mobile phones and apps.

BlockCrushr Labs is a Canadian startup addressing issues of local food poverty and is using the currency and transparency aspects of blockchain technology to increase donations to homeless people, and also to ensure these donations are responsibly spent.

Farmshare is using blockchain to evolve community-supported agriculture, where a local “currency” can be used to purchase locally produced food within a natural community.

Farmers continue to look for ways to certify their crops.
U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr, CC BY

A wireless sensor firm, Filament, is developing sensors to monitor crop health and recording results in a blockchain. Others are embedding sensors in the harvested crop to record temperature and humidity. These make it easier to trace damaged crops. Linking these sensor records to other connected equipment in the internet of things, such as transport and storage coolers ensures end to end monitoring and safe handling.

Skuchain is developing improved barcodes and RFID tags, and blockchain technology with the aim of protecting end to end global supply chains against counterfeiting.

Firms such as sandwich chain Subway have pledged to remove antibiotics and preservatives from their ingredients. If the wish to deliver these promises, a transparent blockchain where product origin and contents are visible to all would seem to be a suitable approach.

We may typify these proofs of concept and ideas as using the blockchain to provide a permanent audit trail, where visibility leads to accountability and trust, without the need to establish local reputation. This philosophy is obviously not restricted to agriculture.

However blockchain solutions have their own limitations. Principal among these are the need to ensure a tight coupling between the product and its digital representation, and the ongoing need for some form of reputable local certification system in the first mile to, for example, establish the fact of ethical practices.

The inevitable mixing of products and supply chains is another factor complicating easy adoption and implementation. For these reasons current proofs of concept tend to be high value and low volume, and often stimulated by strong social motivations of their founders. Blockchains can only be part of a wider solution, and may remain limited to niche markets where establishing provenance can command higher returns.

The Conversation

Phil Godsiff, Senior Research Fellow, University of Surrey

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

 

Top  image sourced from shutterstock.com

Perth students win food waste challenge

Enactus students from Edith Cowan University have won the Graham Kraehe Community Project – Brambles Food Waste Challenge for their program, Waste Not.

The winning program, which also saw the team crowned Enactus National Champions, provides initiatives including an environmental impact report on food waste to local businesses in the city of Joondalup, Western Australia.

It educates businesses in Joondalup about food waste and includes social, economic and environmental factors to encourage improvements in agricultural production, the provision of food service and through community awareness. The students devised, developed, delivered and documented their project.

Enactus Board Member and CHEP Asia Pacific President, Phillip Austin awarded the team a $5,000 prize to support development of their project. In addition, as overall winner of the national championship, the project received an additional $5,000 prize from Brambles.

“CHEP is proud to have partnered with organisations to reduce food waste throughout the supply chain and are delighted to support this worthwhile project that addresses an area where a big impact can be made – through community and local business awareness and engagement,” Austin said.

“We are proud to see our donation used to make a difference in reducing food waste and educating the local community on sustainable solutions.

“The ‘Waste Not’ team have shown strong business acumen and entrepreneurial skills in development of this community-wide project and I look forward to seeing this project progress.”

The ‘Waste Not’ program provides assistance in environmental analysis and education initiatives for local businesses to reduce food waste through, amongst other initiatives, donating leftover food to charities and redirecting food into purpose-built compost bins that fertilises a community vegetable garden.

Enactus is an international non-profit organisation dedicated to inspiring students to improve the world through entrepreneurial action.

The Enactus program includes 20 universities working on real-life issues with guidance and mentoring from corporate business partners in Australia, to achieve real results.

Founding Director and Enactus CEO, Judy Howard said, “The ‘Waste Not’ team have demonstrated leadership, teamwork, and have further enhanced their communication skills through project management, problem solving and networking skills.

“The program has shown a strong plan for self-sufficiency and the ability to be successfully implemented into the community.”

The Enactus National Conference and Championships provides an opportunity for Enactus teams to present the outcomes of their projects to a team of judges drawn from the business community around Australia. The 2016 National Conference and Competition was held from 5-7 July at the Sofitel Wentworth in Sydney.

The team of 24 from Edith Cowan University will go on to compete at the Enactus World Cup from 28-30 September 2017 in Toronto, Canada.

 

How do food manufacturers pick those dates on their product packaging – and what do they mean?

No one wants to serve spoiled food to their families. Conversely, consumers don’t want to throw food away unnecessarily – but we certainly do. The United States Department of Agriculture estimates Americans toss out the equivalent of US$162 billion in food every year, at the retail and consumer levels. Plenty of that food is discarded while still safe to eat.

Part of these losses are due to consumers being confused about the “use-by” and “best before” dates on food packaging. Most U.S. consumers report checking the date before purchasing or consuming a product, even though we don’t seem to have a very good sense of what the dates are telling us. “Sell by,” “best if used by,” “use by” – they all mean different things. Contrary to popular impression, the current system of food product dating isn’t really designed to help us figure out when something from the fridge has passed the line from edible to inedible.

For now, food companies are not required to use a uniform system to determine which type of date to list on their food product, how to determine the date to list or even if they need to list a date on their product at all. The Food Date Labeling Act of 2016, now before Congress, aims to improve the situation by clearly distinguishing between foods that may be past their peak but still ok to eat and foods that are unsafe to consume.

Aside from the labeling issues, how are these dates even generated? Food producers, particularly small-scale companies just entering the food business, often have a difficult time knowing what dates to put on their items. But manufacturers have a few ways – both art and science – to figure out how long their foods will be safe to eat.

Dates can be about rotating product, not necessarily when it’s safe to eat the food.
MdAgDept, CC BY

Consumer confusion

One study estimated 20 percent of food wasted in U.K. households is due to misinterpretation of date labels. Extending the same estimate to the U.S., the average household of four is losing $275-455 per year on needlessly trashed food.

Out of a mistaken concern for food safety, 91 percent of consumers occasionally throw food away based on the “sell by” date – which isn’t really about product safety at all. “Sell by” dates are actually meant to let stores know how to rotate their stock.

A survey conducted by the Food Marketing Institute in 2011 found that among their actions to keep food safe, 37 percent of consumers reported discarding food “every time” it’s past the “use by” date – even though the date only denotes “peak quality” as determined by the manufacturer.

The most we can get from the dates currently listed on food products is a general idea of how long that particular item has been in the marketplace. They don’t tell consumers when the product shifts from being safe to not safe.

Here’s how producers come up with those dates in the first place.

Figuring out when food’s gone foul

A lot of factors determine the usable life of a food product, both in terms of safety and quality. What generally helps foods last longer? Lower moisture content, higher acidity, higher sugar or salt content. Producers can also heat-treat or irradiate foods, use other processing methods or add preservatives such as benzoates to help products maintain their safety and freshness longer.

But no matter the ingredients, additives or treatments, no food lasts forever. Companies need to determine the safe shelf life of a product.

Larger food companies may conduct microbial challenge studies on food products. Researchers add a pathogenic (one that could make people sick) microorganism that’s a concern for that specific product. For example, they could add Listeria moncytogenes to refrigerated packaged deli meats. This bacterium causes listeriosis, a serious infection of particular concern for pregnant women, older adults and young children.

The researchers then store the contaminated food in conditions it’s likely to experience in transportation, in storage, at the store, and in consumers’ homes. They’re thinking about temperature, rough handling and so on.

Every harmful microorganism has a different infective dose, or amount of that organism that would make people sick. After various lengths of storage time, the researchers test the product to determine at what point the level of microorganisms present would likely be too high for safety.

Based on the shelf life determined in a challenge study, the company can then label the product with a “use by” date that would ensure people would consume the product long before it’s no longer safe. Companies usually set the date at least several days earlier than product testing indicated the product will no longer be safe. But there’s no standard for the length of this “safety margin”, it’s set at the manufacturer’s discretion.

Do you even know what the manufacturer meant by this date?
Sascha Grant, CC BY-NC-ND

Another option for food companies is to use mathematical modeling tools that have been developed based on the results of numerous earlier challenge studies. The company can enter information such as the specific type of product, moisture content and acidity level, and expected storage temperatures into a “calculator.” Out comes an estimate of the length of time the product should still be safe under those conditions.

Companies may also perform what’s called a static test. They store their product for an extended period of time under typical conditions the product may face in transport, in storage, at the store, and in consumer homes. This time they don’t add any additional microorganisms.

They just sample the product periodically to check it for safety and quality, including physical, chemical, microbiological, and sensory (taste and smell) changes. When the company has established the longest possible time the product could be stored for safety and quality, they will label the product with a date that is quite a bit earlier to be sure it’s consumed long before it is no longer safe or of the best quality.

Companies may also store the product in special storage chambers which control the temperature, oxygen concentration, and other factors to speed up its deterioration so the estimated shelf life can be determined more quickly (called accelerated testing). Based on the conditions used for testing, the company would then calculate the actual shelf life based on formulas using the estimated shelf life from the rapid testing.

Smaller companies may list a date on their product based on the length of shelf life they have estimated their competitors are using, or they may use reference materials or ask food safety experts for advice on the date to list on their product.

Sometimes it’s an obvious call.
Steven Depolo, CC BY

Even the best dates are only guidelines

Consumers themselves hold a big part of food safety in their own hands. They need to handle food safely after they purchase it, including storing foods under sanitary conditions and at the proper temperature. For instance, don’t allow food that should be refrigerated to be above 40℉ for more than two hours.

If a product has a use-by date on the package, consumers should follow that date to determine when to use or freeze it. If it has a “sell-by” or no date on the package, consumers should follow storage time recommendations for foods kept in the refrigerator or freezer and cupboard.

And use your common sense. If something has visible mold, off odors, the can is bulging or other similar signs, this spoilage could indicate the presence of dangerous microorganisms. In such cases, use the “If in doubt, throw it out” rule. Even something that looks and smells normal can potentially be unsafe to eat, no matter what the label says.

The Conversation

Londa Nwadike, Assistant Professor of Food Safety, Extension Food Safety Specialist at University of Missouri, Kansas State University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

NSW EPA opens latest round of organics Infrastructure grants

The NSW EPA has opened Round 4 of the Organics Infrastructure (large and small) grants program for applications. Grants between $25,000 and $5 million are available to build or supply the infrastructure needed to divert food and organic garden waste from landfill.

The program is being delivered in partnership with the Environmental Trust, as part of the $465.7 million Waste Less Recycle More program. Applications are invited from local councils, industry, business and not-for-profit organisations.

EPA Chair and CEO, Barry Buffier said the aim of the program is to increase infrastructure and equipment to increase recycling capacity for food and garden waste in NSW or improve opportunities to redistribute good food to people in need.

“This program is part of a comprehensive strategy underway in NSW to get food and garden waste out of landfill,” said Buffier.

“It includes education through Love Food Hate Waste, new green-lid kerbside collection services and this funding for infrastructure to redistribute good food to people need or recycle avoidable food waste into compost.

“Now in this fourth and final round, I encourage organisations who have not yet applied for an infrastructure grant and who have projects that can be substantially completed by June next year to put in an application.”

Applications are invited across three streams:

Stream 1 – Food and Garden Organics Processing

For major equipment and infrastructure at processing facilities to process more food and/or garden waste collected from households and businesses.

Stream 2 – Business Organics Recycling

For equipment, like composting systems and commercial worm farms, to process food and/or garden waste onsite at large businesses or institutions like prisons, hospitals, universities and aged care.

Stream 3 – Food Donation

To fund infrastructure, like vans, fridges and freezers, to enable food relief agencies to collect and redistribute more surplus food from businesses to people in need.

Environmental Trust Senior Grants Manager, Peter Dixon said applications are open for Round 4 until Wednesday 13 July 2016.

“The Trust has a long history in working with Local Government, industry, non-government organisations and community groups in tackling waste, recycling and sustainability issues,” he said.

“This program, focussed on organics recovery, is helping to build the capacity in NSW to do something better with food and garden waste than dumping it in landfill.”

Six reasons why food is a really big deal

It’s easy to forget the power of what is on our dinner plate.

Between the Instagram post, or the quick fix meal, the snack at our desk or the breakfast on the run – it’s not a surprise we might overlook the incredible potential in our food. What and how we eat, and the systems that produce it.

Our food is more than simply a source of calories – or even a labour of love. As our global community faces some serious and time-bound health challenges, what’s being served is a world of opportunities.

Let me share with you just six reasons why.

Wealth

In 2015, the global community through the United Nations, unveiled the Sustainable Development Goals. A road-map for equitable development and planet-wide prosperity by 2030, it’s an ambitious, holistic and truly global blueprint for prioritisation and action on a wide range of issues.

Outlined in 17 Goals and 169 Targets, Goal 2 focuses specifically on food: end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. But as momentum builds for the realisation of these Goals, governments and civil society are increasingly realising the importance of food and food systems in achieving ambitions far beyond Goal 2. In fact it is suggested that between 12 and 15 of the 17 Goals will only be fully achieved through investment and action on food and food systems.

Ending poverty requires adequate nutrition for those poorest, while 500 million people on this planet continue to earn a living from smallholder farming. Water and sanitation are deeply linked to food production methods and farming systems. Resilient, inclusive cities will not only require healthy urban food systems, but are also a platform for achieving them. The list goes on.

In short, many now argue that Sustainable Development will only be possible through a focus on ending malnutrition – reshaping our food and diets, and the systems and environments that produce and influence them.

Wisdom

We all seem to be blindly focused on economic growth as the sole measure for communal success. We talk about knowledge economies and knowledge-intensive sectors. Something we almost always overlook though, is that education attainment and economic productivity are both linked to adequate, good food.

Poor nutrition is associated with reduced cognitive function in individuals, delayed school enrolment, impaired concentration, increased illness and absenteeism and early school drop-out – one reports suggests that malnutrition can result in up to 20% lower earning capacity by adulthood. Compared to healthy children, worldwide, children who go without adequate food for long periods are 19% less likely to be able to read, and 12% less likely to write simple sentences by the age of eight, decreasing an individual’s ability to take advantage of development resources and poverty alleviation opportunities.

Conversely, the education of girls improves gender equity, empowerment and maternal and child health outcomes – including better nutrition in the following generation.

In short, knowledge economies require knowledge diets – and healthy food systems. If we want economic growth and sustained social and economic development, then we need to invest in the systems and environments that support nutrition.

Width

While food offers a world of solutions, it also presents some serious challenges for global health. According to the Global Burden of Disease Study, food is a leading risk factor for deaths and disability worldwide.

In fact in 2014, more than 1.9 billion adults worldwide, 18 years and older, were overweight, while more than 600 million were obese. 462 million were underweight. In the same year, 41 million children under the age of five were overweight or obese but 159 million were affected by stunting, resulting from chronic undernutrition. While 50 million children were wasted. In low- and middle-income countries, almost five million children continue to die of undernutrition-related causes every year yet simultaneously these same populations now witness a rise in childhood overweight and obesity – increasing at a rate 30% faster than in richer nations.

The food system, what we eat and very importantly the environment in which we eat it – including the pervasive advertising and commodified urban food systems – have an enormous impact on the health and well-being of our global populations.

Waste

When it comes to food, it is not just about what we grow and do eat – it’s also about what we grow and don’t eat. An estimated one in three mouthfuls of food is wasted in this world every day. The same world where just under half a billion people continue to be underweight. In poorer nations, this waste generally occurs pre-market and can be part-solved by simple technologies in transport, packaging and refrigeration. In wealthier countries, the majority of waste occurs after market and in our homes. This is where buying less but more frequently, avoiding impulse buys and taking measures to reduce the “buy one get one free” that incentivise over-purchasing, is all key.

Weather

Finally, we cannot talk about the power of food and not mention climate change. Today, the food systems of the world account for up to 31% of global greenhouse gas emissions – more than all sea, air and land transport combined. The way we grow, process, transport, market, consume and waste food is a major concern for our planet’s health. And therefore our health too.

Reaching far beyond methane from cows, it’s also about run-off from chemical fertilisers that cause damage to water bodies, a reliance of fossil fuel-intensive methods, deforestation and replacement with monoculture agriculture, salinification of soils resulting for poor farming practices and overfishing of our oceans – the links are numerous. These are all linked to the climate and have an enormous impact on the local and global ecology.

Combined with the fact that we waste one-third of what we grow and very often live in food environments conducive to over-consumption, there is a great deal of room for small individual changes to have drastic, positive, collective effects.

We’re all in this

Finally, food is a really big deal because most of us love it – and all of us need it. Regardless of our political persuasions, our demographics, or our personal beliefs, food is something we all share. More than this, food is something that we all have ownership in and engage with at least three times every day.

The sad news is that it is a major driver of harm and disease, but the good news is that it is also an unparalleled opportunity for collective action. Small changes across 7.4 billion dinner plates will add up very quickly.

In a world where the problems can sometimes seem out of reach, and beyond comprehension, food is also our connection back to the very real issues we all face together.

Our food offers each of us an important seat at the solutions dining table. Let’s be sure to recognise the power in what we’re being served.

The Conversation

Alessandro R Demaio, Medical Doctor; Co-Founded NCDFREE and festival21; Associate Researcher, University of Copenhagen

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Image: World map of Energy consumption Wikimedia, CC BY-NC

 

Global standard to measure food loss and waste introduced

A partnership of leading international organizations is launching the Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard at the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF) 2016 Summit in Copenhagen.

The FLW Standard is the first-ever set of global definitions and reporting requirements for companies, countries and others to consistently and credibly measure, report on and manage food loss and waste.

The Food Loss and Waste Protocol is a multi-stakeholder partnership convened by World Resources Institute and initiated at the 3GF 2013 Summit. FLW Protocol partners include: The Consumer Goods Forum, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), EU-funded FUSIONS project, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), WRAP (The Waste and Resources Action Programme) and World Resources Institute.

International momentum to curb food loss and waste is growing with governments and businesses making commitments to address this issue. However, most do not know how much food is lost or wasted or where it occurs within their borders, operations or supply chains. Moreover, the definition of food loss and waste varies widely and without a consistent accounting and reporting framework it has been difficult to compare data and develop effective strategies.

Creating inventories in conformance with the FLW Standard is a critical foundation to develop effective strategies for reducing food loss and waste and monitor progress over time. Moreover, it can help governments and companies meet international commitments, including the Paris Agreement on climate change and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In particular, SDG Target 12.3 calls for a 50 percent global reduction in food waste by 2030, along with reductions in food loss.

“This standard is a real breakthrough. For the first time, armed with the standard, countries and companies will be able to quantify how much food is lost and wasted, where it occurs, and report on it in a highly credible and consistent manner,” said Andrew Steer, President and CEO, World Resources Institute.

The Food Loss and Waste Protocol can be found at www.FLWProtocol.org.

Melbourne wastes 200 kg of food per person a year: it’s time to get serious

You know that feeling when you open the fridge and are met with something “on the nose”. We all know what food waste looks and smells like.

But food waste stinks in more ways than one. It is expensive, costing the average household over A$2,200 a year, and it undermines the resilience and sustainability of our food supply.

A new report from our Foodprint Melbourne Project has estimated the amount of food that is wasted in feeding Melbourne. We found that feeding Melbourne generates more than 900,000 tonnes of edible food waste every year, or over 200 kg per person.

This is enough to feed more than 2 million people for a year*.

Food waste occurs at different stages for each food type.
Foodprint Melbourne

Undermining sustainability

Growing this wasted food uses 180 gigalitres of water each year, or 113 litres per person per day. This is equivalent to running your shower for an extra 10 minutes a day.

This wasted food also uses around 3.6 million hectares of land – around 41 ha per person, or more than 20 times the area of the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

And this wasted food is responsible for around 2.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, 60% of which is generated by food waste rotting in landfill, and the rest in producing the wasted food.

This uneaten food is not only a source of unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions. It represents a waste of natural resources that are in increasingly limited supply.

Australia is a water-scarce region that is likely to become drier due to climate change, while only 6% of Australia’s land is suitable for growing crops.

With the associated waste of natural resources, high levels of food waste add to the challenge of producing sufficient food to feed a growing population.

Reducing food waste

There are many ways to reduce food waste at home. These include making meal plans, sharing leftover food with friends or neighbours, checking the fridge before going shopping and storing food correctly.

The Cloud-Freezer app can help you to keep track of what’s in your freezer and fridge. Worm farms, bokashi bins and other forms of composting are also great ways to divert food waste from landfill.

While we can all take steps to reduce food waste at home, we need to look at the bigger picture. Our research shows that more than 60% of food waste is generated before food reaches your fridge or freezer.

Strict standards defining the shape, size and colour of fresh fruit and vegetables in supermarkets can mean that a significant proportion of a crop never leaves the farm.

Low prices for second-grade produce can make it financially unviable for farmers to pick, pack and ship imperfect produce. Pressure to keep supermarket shelves full for appearance’s sake, losses during food processing and storage problems also lead to food being wasted.

Initiatives that aim to make more imperfect fruit and vegetables available, such as Woolworth’s Odd Bunch campaign, go some way to reducing this problem, but more needs to be done.

Our research estimates that if food waste was halved across the food supply chain, Melbourne could save 1.8 million hectares of land, 90 million litres of water and avoid 1.3 million tonnes of greenhouse gases each year.

We need to halve food waste

In recognition of the significant challenge that food waste represents to sustainable food systems, the new Sustainable Development Goals set a target to halve the global food waste per person that is generated by retailers and consumers by 2030.

The United States government has also set a national target to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030. It has established a cross-sector partnership of stakeholders across the food system to tackle the problem.

The UK government has been an early mover in taking action to tackle food waste. In 2007, it launched the WRAP Love Food Hate Waste program aimed at reducing food waste. An evaluation in 2012 showed that avoidable waste of food and drink (that could have been eaten) had fallen by 21% in five years following the launch of the program.

Most of this reduction has been in household food waste. The WRAP program is now working with the food industry to reduce waste in other sectors. The successful UK Love Food Hate Waste program aimed at reducing household food waste has been taken up by state governments in Victoria and New South Wales.

Australia is developing a national food waste strategy – the Food Waste 2025 Strategy – and stakeholders from across the food supply chain meet this month to discuss how to reduce food waste.

Australia should follow suit in setting a target to halve food waste across the food supply chain to put Australia’s food system on a more sustainable footing.

*Correction: This figure has been updated. It previously incorrectly stated that Melbourne’s food waste is enough to feed 2,000 people per year.

The Conversation

Seona Candy, Research Fellow: Sustainable Food Systems, University of Melbourne; Jennifer Sheridan, Researcher in sustainable food systems, University of Melbourne, and Rachel Carey, Research Fellow, University of Melbourne

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Sydney plant turning food waste into electricity

The Cronulla Wastewater Treatment Plant has started a trial to turn food waste into renewable energy.

As AAP reports, a Sydney business will supply the plant with fruit and vegetable scraps sourced from local green grocers. Though waste water treatment uses a lot of power, it is expected the plant will be able to source more than 60 per cent of its energy needs from the waste.

Minister for Primary Industries, Lands and Water Niall Blair and Environment Minister Mark Speakman were on hand yesterday to launch the trial.

“The NSW Government is committed to finding new and better ways to lower the amount of electricity we use from the grid, not only to benefit the environment, but also to reduce operating costs of utilities and lower customers’ bills,” Blair said.

“This project is a great example of Sydney Water and local businesses working together to look outside the square to develop solutions to benefit the environment and the local community.

“Not only will the food waste help to generate renewable energy to power the Plant, it will also save 150,000 wheelie bins of fruit and vegetables per year from landfill – that’s 600 wheelie bins a day, five days a week.”

The three-year trial is jointly funded by Sydney Water and the Office of Environment and Heritage’s Sustainability Advantage Program.

“Fruit and vegetable waste which is typically driven many kilometres away for landfill will also now stay in Cronulla. This means fewer trucks travelling long distances and a saving of 90,000 kilometres each year,” said Speakman.

Linpac tackles food waste with packaging innovation

One of the most effective ways to reduce food waste in Australia is to improve packaging, according to Alan Davey, Director of Innovation at LINPAC, a leading fresh food-packaging manufacturer.

According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation, around one third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, which amounts to around 1.3 billion tonnes per year.

Alan Davey is a keynote speaker at next month’s Australia Institute of Packaging (AIP) event in Victoria, where he will discuss why packaging in itself is a green technology, protecting and preserving food throughout the supply chain and therefore reducing food waste. Davey will also address why rPET packaging sets the standard in packaging sustainability.

Located in Melbourne, Victoria, LINPAC manufactures fully recyclable rPET rigid packaging for meat, fish and poultry in Australia, as well as supplies a range of innovative packaging solutions for bakery, prepared and chilled foods and fruit and vegetables in conjunction with its global INFIA and barrier films businesses.

In developing packaging which extends product shelf life and delivers exceptional presentation, to meet the needs of Australian packers and retailers, LINPAC have brought to market Rfresh HB and Rfresh Elite, both fully recyclable at the end of use, minimising food waste through the supply chain and in the consumer’s home.

Rfresh Elite is relatively new to the Australian market.  It is a ground-breaking, super lightweight, mono-material tray, which uses a unique, patented sealant on the tray flange to create a secure seal with the lidding film.  This removes the need for the industry standard laminated PE base film.

Davey will be discussing the development of Rfresh Elite at AIP.

“Whilst food waste is a massive problem which is being addressed by LINPAC, recyclability of packaging is another key issue. Our Rfresh Elite trays are revolutionary in their ingenious sealing system, as the new sealant can be removed in the hot wash processes typically used by plastics recyclers.  This means a recycled Rfresh Elite tray will yield 100 per cent crystal clear PET – a breakthrough in tray packaging design,” he commented.

To further enhance the environmental credentials of the range, Rfresh Elite trays are manufactured from up to 95 per cent post consumer recyclate in a bid to create a closed loop recycling process and have been developed in conjunction with the company’s light weighting programme. Today, the product is the ultimate solution for meat and poultry packers in search of a high performing sustainable packaging option.

“Developing and delivering innovative and efficient packaging solutions which help to reduce the amount of food and packaging entering the waste stream has always been a key objective of LINPAC”, continued Davey. “Fresh thinking is the heart of our company and LINPAC is at the forefront of developing novel packaging solutions for our customers.

“Consumers are demanding brands and retailers produce more efficient packaging, both in terms of their performance and their environmental impact, and at LINPAC we are leading the packaging industry in new developments which address these key demands.”

Alan Davey will be speaking on day one (June 1, 2016) at AIP at 11am.

NSW EPA invites applications for food waste reduction grants

The NSW EPA has opened applications for the fourth round of its ‘Love Food Hate Waste grants’, aimed at projects to reduce food waste in NSW.

The program is being delivered in partnership with the Environmental Trust, as part of the $465.7 million Waste Less Recycle More program.

EPA Chair and CEO, Barry Buffier said $470, 000 is available for local councils, NGOs, and community groups to raise awareness of food waste in NSW households and businesses.

“Each year in NSW, 800,000 tonnes of food waste ends up in landfill from households and 170,000 tonnes from business, which is why these grants that help to reduce food waste are so important,” Mr Buffier said.

“Now in this fourth and final round I encourage any councils who have not yet applied and who have projects that can be completed by June 30 next year to put in an application.”

Buffier said the Love Food Hate Waste education program, is part of a comprehensive strategy to reduce organics waste across NSW.

“The Government has been working steadily to meet the ambitious target to divert 75 percent of all waste from landfill by 2021,” he said.

“When NSW households waste, on average, over $1,000 a year on food which is thrown away, food waste avoidance initiatives can make a big difference in the amount of household waste being recovered and recycled in NSW rather than dumped.”

Environmental Trust Senior Manager Grants, Peter Dixon, said applications for this round of funding close at 5pm on Tuesday 14 June 2016.

“The Trust has a long history in working with Local Government, non-government organisations and community groups in tackling waste, recycling and sustainability issues.

“This program is a great continuation of that, with the EPA and Trust working together to fund projects to educate and inform NSW households and businesses on ways to reduce food waste.”

The Love Food Hate Waste grants are delivered by the NSW Environment Protection Authority and the NSW Environmental Trust in partnership as part of Waste Less, Recycle More, a five year initiative that is transforming waste management and recycling in NSW.

Microorganisms get a sweet taste of Ferrero waste

Ferrero Australia’s factory in Lithgow is the first food company in the world to use an Australian-based technology that enables microorganisms to turn liquid sugar waste into safe water.

The factory’s wastewater treatment facility was fitted with nine BioGill bioreactors to ensure it met the requirements for proper disposal of liquid trade waste. As the factory produces a high sugar waste content, when it gets cleaned using water, it produces a liquid that is high in biological oxygen demand (BOD).

According to the ABC, Geoff Cross, Ferrero Australia’s country quality manager, said, “If we don’t break down material with a high BOD, that oxygen is not available for the normal flora and fauna of a river system.” He added that the location of the factory eventually flows into the Cox’s River, which can present major problems in the water such as blue green algae outbreaks.

BioGill commercialised a technology originally developed by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) that was used to grow antibiotics and penicillin for the medical industry.

John West, BioGill founder and CEO said that the company also made the technology useful to other fields including dairies, wineries and breweries to clean sewage.

West told the ABC that the organisation got its name from the water going over, not within, a membrane akin to gills on a fish.

“Waste water is pumped to the top of the BioGill chamber, it runs down on the gills containing microbes – the same that live inside our body. They flourish on the membranes and eat the waste out of the water,” he said.

Ferrero had to fix solar panels to the facility to ensure the microorganisms could work well through Lithgow’s cooler weather.

Wastewater from the Ferrero factory then goes to Lithgow’s town water treatment plant and after treatment, proceeds to local waterways.

Cross said that other food companies were interested in the Lithgow project and how it functioned.

“We’ve had quite a few discussions on what we’ve actually done here from the NSW Government’s Office of Environment and Heritage Sustainability Advantage Program,” he said.

Commonwealth research and development tax incentives have been given to BioGill and the company is considering a trial of the invention on the Great Barrier Reef in conjunction with James Cook University and the CSIRO.

NSW EPA offering food and organics waste collection systems grants

Round 4 of the Local Government Organics Collection Systems grants are now open for councils to apply for funding to reduce and recycle food waste in NSW.

The program is being delivered in partnership with the Environmental Trust, as part of the $465.7 million Waste Less Recycle More program.

EPA Chair and CEO, Barry Buffier said up to $1.3 million is available for local councils to introduce new or enhanced collection services for food and organic waste.

“Each year in NSW, 800,000 tonnes of food waste ends up in landfill from households while businesses contribute 170,000 tonnes. This is why these grants that support collection services are so important.

“Already in the first three rounds we have awarded $15.8 million to 38 councils to collect an estimated 144,000 tonnes more food and garden waste a year. We have also provided 552,669 new green lid bins and kitchen caddies to more than 230,000 homes.

“Now in this fourth and final round, I encourage councils with projects that can be completed by June next year to put in an application, if they have not done so already.

The Local Government Organics Collections Systems grants program is part of a comprehensive strategy to transform organics waste collections across NSW.

“The Government has been working steadily towards its target of providing 70 per cent of NSW homes with kerbside organics collections services by 2017,” Mr Buffier said.

The funding provides a unique opportunity for councils to improve services that will assist residents preserve their local environment.

“Currently approximately 45 per cent of a red lid bin is made up of organics waste, so these new collection services will make a big difference in the amount of household waste being recovered and recycled in NSW.

“In landfill, organics waste breaks down to generate greenhouse gas emissions and leachate. By recycling this waste into compost, then soil quality, water retention and crop yields benefit.

The Local Government Organics Collections Systems grants will transform waste management and recycling in NSW.

Applications close on Thursday 19 May 2016.

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