1. Causes of food waste
Food waste can occur at the stages of production, processing, retailing, and consumption, by farmers, by the food industry, by retailers and by consumers.
Food waste occurs from the beginning of food production. During growing, crops are quite likely to suffer pest infestations and severe weather, which will destroy the plants. When you harvest immature crops, or discard part of a crop no matter they are unavailable to use or not to standard, food waste will consequently form.
In storage, considerable quantitative losses can be attributed to pests and micro-organisms due to high heat and ambient humidity, while these factors combined with the action of micro-organisms lead to qualitative losses such as losses in the nutritional value, caloric value and edibility of crops. Further losses are generated in the handling of food and by shrinkage in weight or volume.
Although packaging avoids considerable food waste by protecting food from damage, as well as preserving its freshness, it can compromise efforts to reduce food waste in other ways, such as by contaminating waste that could be used for animal feedstocks.
Retail stores can throw away large quantities of food which passed their best before, sell-by or use-by dates, which might occur due to stock management inefficiencies, marketing strategies, aesthetic issues, etc. Farmers or processors plan to produce more than actually required to avoid contracts with retailers cancelled by failure to supply agreed quantities. Surplus production is often simply disposed, becoming food waste.
Lack of shopping planning or wrongly anticipating the number of clients in catering, confusion about “best before” and” use by” date labels, lack of knowledge on how to cook with leftovers all contribute to food waste.
2. Utilizing Food Waste by Composting
One of the solutions for food waste is composting, a natural process of decomposition and recycling of organic material into a humus rich soil amendment known as compost. If land is available, you may compost the food waste on-site in rows or bins. However, if the volumes are large, you can turn the compost by compost turner in the form of windrow-a long, narrow pile that are turned when required based on temperature and oxygen requirements. The market for compost is one of increasing demand. Food scrap compost is generally higher in nutrient value and lower in contamination than most other types of compost, thus making it more valuable in the market.
3. Applications for Finished Compost
* Used to improve soil structure, infiltration rate, water holding capacity, and tilth, increasing soil microorganism populations, soil organic matter and humus.
* Used as fertilizer supplement for nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and trace elements.
* Used to suppress insect pests and soilborne plant pathogens.
* Used to increase pasture quality in intensively managed grazing systems.
* Used as mulch for trees, orchards, landscapes, lawns, gardens, and makes an excellent potting mix.
Additional uses for compost include vegetable production, field crops, annual forest plantings, sod farms, greenhouse crops, mined lands, roads, and recreation areas such as golf courses, trails, athletic fields, and parks.