Certain days, weeks and months have a theme to them, either nationally or internationally, in an effort to promote an important cause or event. This month is all about going organic.
The Organic September initiative is led by the Soil Association and aims to raise awareness about organic food and farming. By increasing the amount of organic methods used in food production, we are able to stem the damage being done through climate change, as well as have positive effects on animal welfare and the biodiversity of wildlife.
Whilst we certainly encourage the growing and eating of organic produce over the more environmentally damaging alternatives, there is still the impact of leftover food waste to think about.
Whether or not your business is already planning to make changes related to Organic September, here are some things to keep in mind regarding the food waste that will be created this month and what you can do about it.
Food production creates huge greenhouse gas emissions
Food production is currently one of the largest carbon emitters worldwide. A recently published study measuring carbon emissions over a 25-year period, between 1990 and 2015, found that food systems accounted for 34% of all greenhouse gases created by humans. An astonishing 18 gigatonnes of CO2 was created as a result of food production in 2015 alone.
As well as being responsible for more than a third of the world’s carbon emissions, food production creates masses of methane. Over 35% of those food waste emissions is made up of this potent and damaging greenhouse gas.
Methane becomes even more prevalent when food and organic waste is sent to landfill. Disposing of food in this way creates methane emissions that are 25 times stronger than CO2, which is why we place a huge amount of importance on never sending the waste we collect at Westminster City Council Commercial Waste Services to landfill sites.
Reducing food waste is the key
Increasing the amount of food systems that centre around organic produce is certainly a step in the right direction. It will decrease the amount of carbon and methane created, but reducing the amount of food waste that is created in the first place is even better.
Whereas organic farming requires specific people and processes to implement, each of us can contribute towards bringing down the amount of leftover food waste.
Across the country there are all sorts of consumables thrown out each day, often due to over-ordering, improper packaging or the mis-storage of items. The most common food waste products include:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Meat and fish
- Eggs and dairy
- Bread and other baked goods
- Teabags and coffee grounds
- Flowers and other perishable decorations
Cutting down on the amount of these items that go to waste should be the first thing for your business to consider during Organic September.
Dispose of food waste separately
Ideally, the creation of food waste should be avoided, but whenever it can’t, the next best thing is to dispose of it correctly. Getting into the habit of collecting leftover food separately and putting it all in designated bins now will not only save you money on collection costs, but it will also ensure you are prepared when this becomes compulsory for businesses in 2023 as part of the government’s Resources & Waste Strategy.
There is another good reason for disposing of food separately, as it allows waste that would otherwise be disposed of as rubbish to be turned into 100% renewable energy, like biogas, or turned into agricultural fertiliser instead.
The food waste we collect from premises in Westminster is sent to Northamptonshire, where a company called Biogen processes it at their anaerobic digestion facility. This method involves microorganisms breaking down the waste to release biogas that can be sent to the gas grid, to generate fuel for transport or to generate electricity and heat to power homes.
The waste sent to Biogen from Westminster also generates enough fertiliser to grow the wheat to make over half a million loaves of bread and saves around 5,000 tonnes of CO2 every year – which is equivalent to five flights between London and New York.
How Westminster’s Commercial Waste Services can help your business
As you can see, whether the food we consume is organic or not, the waste products left behind afterwards can still cause huge environmental problems. But we can help your business take the necessary steps to deal with this food waste, by providing both the advice and the services to do so.
One quick and easy way to have an impact on your business’ green credentials is to take advantage of our composting take-back. We take all of the local food waste and turn it into a nutrient-rich soil conditioner called Pro-Grow. Many hospitality businesses in Westminster are already using this organic compost to fill their planters, for their internal landscaping, or to grow their own produce, such as herbs and vegetables.
By repurposing the waste products in one of these ways we can close the loop to ensure that ‘what starts on the farm gets returned to the farm’. Organic September is as good a time as any to get your business involved in these responsible means of food waste recycling.
For further information about our food waste collection and recycling services, download our food waste guide by clicking the image below.