What is Food waste management?
Food waste management is the process through which food and other agricultural products are recovered or redirected for human consumption, animal feed, industrial uses, or environmental benefits. The food waste management process includes the collection of edible food scraps and other food-related wastes from homes, restaurants, institutions, and businesses. Food waste can be diverted into a variety of uses including composting materials for agriculture and gardening purposes.
Food Waste Management- Transformation in the Food Industry Sector
What is food waste management?
Food waste occurs throughout the food supply chain starting from farm production to retailers and consumers. Food waste could be due to pests, molds, climate change, cooking, etc. On the other hand, food loss occurs before it reaches the consumers. Food loss could occur due to problems in several stages of production, storage, processing, and distribution.
A large amount of food loss and waste goes to landfills and rots and releases greenhouse gases. It is not easy to treat food loss and waste as it includes dangerous levels of sodium and water. The main contributors to food waste are restaurants, hotels, cafeterias, supermarkets, food processing businesses, residential areas, etc.
In the United States, food waste disposal is a big issue as about 35 million tons of food waste are discarded into landfills or incinerators every year, which is about 40% of all food consumed. The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) provides food waste facts that highlight the issue of food waste. It is estimated that about 13% of the total municipal solid waste that takes place is due to food scraps in the United States.
Sustainable food waste management is the strategy to reduce food waste at several stages of the food supply chain. Retailers can use inventory management software like Zipinventory that helps in reducing food waste in restaurants and hotels. Food waste reduction includes tactics to cut down the impact of food loss and waste from an environmental and economic perspective.
Reasons for Food Waste
Food waste is the main issue, and it is only getting worse. The Daily Mail states that by 2050, the world will have to produce double the amount of food it currently does to feed a growing population. With so many people in need of food, the issue of food waste has become an important one. Here are some causes of food waste and how we can reduce them-
Food waste is a huge issue in the food industry
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1. Absence of Right Planning
One of the key reasons for food waste is the lack of correct planning on the consumer side. Generally, people tend to purchase lots of food without planning when and how it will be cooked. Sometimes people forget to use the purchased food on time or change their plans due to work or other appointments. Typically, planning for food preparation is out of people's control and results in the expiry of food items and food waste. When food is not prepared at the right time, food items taste bad when cooked and also end up as waste.
Note-: In theUnited States, food waste disposal is a big issue as about 35 million tons of food waste are discarded into landfills or incinerators every year, which is about 40% of all food consumed.
2. Buying and Preparing Large Amounts of Food
Food waste also occurs when people buy or purchase too much food. When people purchase or cook food more than required, then it is obvious that excess food will go to waste. In such cases, leftover food goes to waste. People can opt for food donations to those who need them.
At times, excess food goes to the back of the cabinet and passes the expiry date, and is never used. Similarly, leftovers go to the back of the refrigerator and, ultimately, go to waste. In the end, excess food purchased or cooked foes to waste.
3. Issues with Processing and Food Safety Policies
Food safety policies are stringent and leave no place for any errors in the quality of food during processing. Any errors during processing can result in waste as food items that do not meet food standards are discarded before reaching the distribution stage. Food manufacturers have to comply with high food safety standards that leave no room for errors. When food manufacturers comply with these food safety standards, they end up creating food waste, and any errors in the production process result in food being rejected, making it unfit for consumption. Thus this food goes to food waste. Any issues during production, cooking, packaging, inappropriate size and color can result in the rejection of food.
There are many ways to reduce food waste, but not all of them are sustainable
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4. Financial and Managerial Roadblocks
Food waste in developing countries occurs due to legal and financial restrictions due to the lack of the right managerial, financial and technical support to food producers. Food producers may face roadblocks during the harvesting, storage, processing, distribution, and packaging of food. Today, food producers and retailers have several ways to reduce food waste through the use of technology. Many retailers use modern methods for food waste reduction that help in waste prevention and management of the food supply chain.
Do You Know-: Food waste in developing countries occurs due to legal and financial restrictions due to the lack of the right managerial, financial and technical support to food producers.
5. Over-Preparation in the Food Industry
Many restaurants and hotels tend to over-prepare food in anticipation of a large number of customers and to avoid running out of food orders. However, over preparation and unsold often result in food waste.
Most restaurants, hotels, and the foodservice industry alike tend to over-prepare/produce food. While the intention is good, especially in anticipation of high customer volume and the ability to not run out of the menu, over-preparation often leads to wastage if all the food is unsold. Over-preparation and unsold food are big issues in the foodservice industry. Restaurants and hotels tend to overestimate food quantities, and unused food eventually goes to waste. Retailers can install the best inventory management software like Zipinventory to reduce food waste. Zipinventory Features several tools that assist in the correct management of inventory purchase and usage of food items.
6. Over-Stocking in Supermarkets
Over-stocking of food items in retail stores, supermarkets, wholesale markets results in food waste. Food retail stores tend to create beautiful and large displays of food items to promote sales and attract more customers. Over-merchandizing of food items results in an abundance of food in retail stores and supermarkets, leading to food waste of items that pass expiry date or are unsold. When consumers overbuy products, it leads to an excess of food that ends up in food waste. Perishable food especially has a short shelf life and when unsold ends up in trash bins.
7. Change in Consumer Trends
Customer behavior and trends keep changing with time and influence purchasing trends of food items. Customers prefer to buy fruits, vegetables that have appealing appearances and shapes and reject those with blemishes or are ugly. Fruits and vegetables are perishable foods and have a limited shelf life. Fruits and vegetables go to the trash bin as soon as they cross their expiry.
Impact of Food Waste
Food waste is a major issue that plagues the world today. It is estimated that half of all food produced in the United States goes to waste. The food waste environmental impact is vast and far-reaching, but not as much as you might think. There are many positive consequences from food waste, including how it can be used as animal feed in developing nations.
Below is how food waste impacts our lives-
1. Loss of Biodiversity
Loss of biodiversity on a global level is one of the major effects of food waste. People have occupied large portions of wildlife land for farming and habitation which has resulted in the loss of natural resources and biographical areas. Human practices, such as deforestation, cutting down of trees, and conversion of forests into farmlands have ruined natural habitats of animals, birds, and water animals.
Other agricultural practices like mass rearing of livestock and mono-cropping have increased biodiversity loss. Pesticides used for farming have also resulted in a rise in the levels of dangerous chemicals in the environment that has compounded pollution in the air and water, impacting birds, animals, and marine life.
2. Waste of Fertile Lands
Farmers require fertile lands to grow crops, but a large area of land is used for farming and as landfills. According to reports, we are wasting about 30% of the world's fertile area which is equal to about 1.4 billion hectares of land accounts for unconsumed food. A large quantity of organic waste and food scrap rots in landfills across the world. Otherwise, this land can be utilized in several productive activities.
3. Waste of Water
A large quantity of water is used for the production of agricultural food. The amount of food that goes waste is equivalent to the amount of fresh water used to produce and process food that also goes to waste. This phenomenon called blue water footprint is the number of natural resources that go to waste.
Food waste leads to about 250 cubic kilometers of water waste. According to estimates about a kilogram of beef thrown equates to waste of 50,000 liters of water used in the production process of meat.
4. Higher Carbon Footprint and Climate Change
The production of food and later waste generated results in the generation of about 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gases. The large amounts of greenhouse gases increase the effects of climate change. According to reports, food waste is the third biggest reason for the emission of greenhouse gases. Food processing, production, cooking, and transportation require a lot of energy and the main source of this energy is the use of fossil fuels. Plus, when unused food rots in landfills, it produces methane gas that further fuels global warming and climate change.
Strategies for Food Waste Management
Waste is a big issue in our society. We produce tons of waste, and we're not very good at managing it. One way to help reduce the impact of waste on our planet is to consider how food waste can be managed. Here are some ways you can implement food waste management strategies into your own life.
Below are two commonly used strategies to reduce food waste management-
Composting is the process of recycling and decomposing organic waste into rich soil that is called compost. Businesses that deal with vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy products, bread, and paper can decompose these materials to make compost. However, products, such as plastics, grease, glass, and metals cannot be made into compost. Food waste is another product that can be decomposed to make compost.
2. Anaerobic Digestion
Anaerobic digestion refers to the process of breaking down organic matter through the use of bacteria. Materials such as food waste, wastewater, and animal manure break down in the absence of oxygen. The process generates biogas and occurs in a sealed vessel known as a reactor that contains microbial communities that break down food waste. The process results in the production of biogas.
Ways to Reduce Food Waste
The food waste problem is growing in the United States. Over 30% of food in the US goes to waste, costing households $218 billion annually. Food that gets thrown away is not only wasted money but also harmful to the environment and wildlife by contributing to global warming and landfills. So how can you reduce your family's food waste at home?
Here are some ways you can help reduce food waste as well as what you can do for the environment-
1. Meeting Food Demand and Production
We know that food production precedes food demand. There is a critical need to balance the production and demand of food to reduce food waste. Food production in hotels and restaurants requires many natural resources and the first thing that can be done is to reduce the use of natural resources in the commercial production of food. Restaurants, hotels, and the foodservice industry can utilize inventory and risk management tools like Zipinventory for reducing food waste. These tools ensure optimum usage of natural resources to balance the production and preparation of food with the demand for it.
2. Food Recovery Initiatives
Retail stores and supermarkets can assist in reducing food waste by applying creative and customized ways for food waste prevention. Retailers can reduce bulk buying of perishable food items to cut down on food footprint. Consumers, on the other hand, can reduce food waste by not placing a preference for the best quality food. Supermarkets can promote ugly and blemished fruits and vegetables that are still edible by providing discounts and offers to customers.
3. Consumers Avoid Overbuying
Consumers should plan their meals before buying food items to reduce food wastage. Planning helps in saving money and resources. Buying in small quantities allows consumers in reducing the waste of food that occurs due to exceeding expiry dates of perishable foods.
4. Recycling of Food
Food waste prevention food recycling are effective ways to reduce food waste. Several methods and technologies are being used across the world for food waste reduction. Food producers to distributors and retailers can employ food waste management techniques such as inventory management software, such as Zipinventory to cut down on food waste. Recycling food packaging materials can reduce pollutants in the air and water. Zipinventory Zipinventory Features