By Federico Pettinella from Birmingham Eco
Food waste recycling has a myriad of environmental benefits and can be done in various ways, from the household to the industrial scale. Anaerobic digestion (the breakdown of organic matter in the absense of oxygen) and composting of food waste can avoid large amounts of greenhouse gases by capturing the methane that would be produced in landfills and using it to replace natural gas. By replacing natural gas with the biogas produced by the natural breakdown of food scraps, like coffee grounds, apple cores, and tea bags, we can heat and power our homes as part of the natural food cycle rather than extracting gases that have been outside of the natural ecosystem for millennia. By diverting our food scraps from the regular bin, we can reduce our city’s carbon footprint. The UK’s Waste and Resource Action Programme charity (WRAP) estimates that for every 1 tonne of food scraps that are anaerobically digested instead of sent to landfill, we avoid 0.75 tonnes of CO2 going into the atmosphere. Not only can we heat and power our homes with the biogas, but the resulting organic compost can also be used on our gardens and farms to improve soil health and prevent erosion of our precious topsoil.
Then why don’t we do it? It feels like our lack of a municipal food scraps recycling scheme in Birmingham is not only nonsensical, it’s terrible for the planet. We’ve seen that introducing such a scheme has been derailed by the city council because it would be “too expensive” and that the infrastructure would “go to waste” because it has been proven that people who contribute to food scrap recycling collections tend to waste less food once they see how much they produce. So, instead of griping about our purse strings and how our neighbours would waste less food than we budgeted for, let’s just do it ourselves. Birmingham is full of creative and hardworking people that want to make a positive change. We’re building a community of circular economy makers at www.birmingham.eco for the betterment of our city and the planet. Join us to help transform Birmingham into the clean, green city we know it can be.