Between the farm and the table, we waste almost half of the food that we produce. Reducing food waste is no easy feat, and we’re going to need an array of solutions to address all of this organic matter headed to our landfills. Of course, we need to just plain waste less food, but food waste isn’t going away any time soon. We need solutions for using all of the wasted food that we’re producing. Fortunately, there are companies out there right now who are reducing food waste by turning it into usable products from alternative fuel to packaging.
The problem with turning food crops into alternative energy or packaging is that causes spikes in food prices. When we use land to grow food for cars rather than people, for example, it means that hungry people are competing with energy companies for food. Growing food for alternative energy uses massive amounts of land and water. We feed as much food to cars as we do to livestock.
Diverting food waste from the landfill, on the other hand, doesn’t require any extra land or water, because we were producing – and rejecting – that food already. In fact, keeping that organic matter out of the landfill helps reduce methane emissions. These companies are reducing food waste sent to landfills by making it useful again.
1. Turn it into compressed natural gas (CNG).
A San Francisco company is turning the food waste it collects into CNG to fuel its fleet of trucks. It’s a closed-loop system that reduces waste and reduces transportation emissions.
2. Extract that methane.
Methane is a more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, but it’s also a valuable alternative fuel that can power vehicles and buildings.
3. Turn it into packaging.
Food packaging is an often-ignored component of our food waste problem. The Plastic Bank is taking plastic waste – including food packaging waste – and turning into packaging for new products.
4. Make biofuel from booze.
The whiskey industry in Scotland creates around 3 million tons of waste per year. A company called Celtic Renewables is reducing food waste by turning that byproduct – called draff – into an alternative fuel for cars.
5. Power a fleet of jets.
People have been turning waste oil into fuel for cars for years, but Boeing in China is taking that a step further. Earlier this year, they opened a demonstration facility where they’re using waste oil to create fuel for jets.
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