New Global Report To Help Cities Manage Their Food Waste

A new global report that aims to help cities manage their food waste has been launched by the World Biogas Association (WBA), setting out the “best practices for preventing and reducing food waste”.

The report, titled ‘Global Food Waste Management: An Implementation Guide for Cities’, has been written by the WBA in collaboration with the C40 Cities Food, Water & Waste Programme and sets out the experiences of cities around the world in managing their food waste.

It aims to offer the best practices for preventing and reducing food waste, an overview of collection systems to ensure clean food waste is brought to treatment and treatment alternatives for inedible food waste, from composting to anaerobic digestion.

It also sets out the use of outputs from the various treatment processes and how to best valorise them as well as the policies needed to ensure food waste is sustainably managed. 

The report puts particular emphasis on the importance of separately collecting and treating inedible food waste, which if implemented on a global level would have the same impact in terms of CO2 emissions reduction as taking all cars in the EU off the road.

“Treating inedible food waste represents an opportunity to cut emissions while resolving other issues around energy, soil quality, waste management and human health in urban areas.”

Most cities around the world currently do not collect food waste separately, leaving it to be disposed of in dumps, landfills or incinerators, the report claims. As a result, food waste is not treated and loses its potential to resolve a series of environmental issues faced by all cities.  

The report also highlights the role of biogas technologies, which through anaerobic digestion (AD) recycle inedible food waste into renewable heat and power, clean transport fuel, and nutrient-rich biofertiliser. AD technologies, which are mature, ready-to-implement, and cost-effective, allow maximum recovery of resources for both green energy generation and soil restoration, it says.

David Newman, President of the WBA, said: “The time to fight climate change is now. There is no time left to talk, as we are set to lock in emissions for a 2°C temperature rise over the next five years. Cities have a fundamental role to play and a brilliant opportunity to seize in cutting emissions as over half the world’s population now lives in urban areas.

“Treating inedible food waste represents an opportunity to cut emissions while resolving other issues around energy, soil quality, waste management and human health in urban areas. The technologies to resolve all these (particularly AD) are mature and deployable now, and the WBA can support cities in their transition. What are we waiting for?”

Ricardo Cepeda-Márquez, Technical Lead for the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group’s Food, Water & Waste Programme, said: “Globally, food waste has become an increasingly recognised environmental issue over the last decade. Not only has the issue of wasted food become an ethical one in a world where approximately 800 million people suffer from hunger, but the environmental impacts of producing food that is then discarded can no longer be overlooked.

“This report intends to be a guide to assist the decision-makers in cities that recognise the challenges of food waste management and wish to find sustainable and effective solutions. The C40 Cities Food, Water and Waste Programme and the WBA offer their collective assistance to cities coming to terms with food waste, its reduction and treatment. By making our expertise in this sector available to those willing to embrace the food waste challenge, we hope to speed up the process of change and to help cities achieve their climate change and urban sustainability goals.”

The full WBA report can be downloaded here 

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