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Food Waste on the Rise/Recycling Efforts Underway, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reports that Americans throw away about $165 billion worth of food each year.  A report issued by the nonprofit Waste and Resources Action Program (WRAP) estimates that food left uneaten on a global basis costs up to $400 billion per year.  WRAP estimated that by 2030, consumer food waste could rise to $600 billion per year if there is not a widespread effort in conservation and recycling.  The program estimates that reducing food waste by 20% by the year 2030 could save as much as $120 billion yearly.
Food recycling programs are now required in Connecticut, Massachusetts and major urban centers such as New York in the U.S. where hospitals, supermarkets, university cafeterias and other waste-intense facilities must separate and recycle food scraps.  The city of London instituted a Love Food Hate Waste initiative (www.lovefoodhatewaste.com), a five-year program that partners WRAP with community organizations, chefs, UK governments and businesses, trade bodies and local authorities to promote food recycling.
The cost for instituting food recycling programs (which turn scraps into fertilizer or electricity) is high.  Large scale commercial “digesters” are prohibitively expensive, and in some cases state governments are stepping in with subsidies.  The state of Connecticut, for example, offered $6 million in loans or grants for anaerobic digesters.  In 2015, the state granted the first permit for a new anaerobic digestion facility to be built in Bridgeport.
On a small scale, a company called BioHiTech offers a commercial bio-digester that’s about the size of a dishwasher.  It is an easy-to-install, on-site digester in a self-contained, stainless steel unit.  No chemicals are used, and it discharges to a standard sewer line.  Even the firm’s smallest unit can digest up to 800 pounds of waste daily, fed continuously into the machine.  The intent is to dramatically reduce the amount of waste that must be hauled away each day by using natural processes to reduce the materials fed into it.  The machines are equipped with Intel processors and software, and are connected to the internet.  Users track (via PC or a mobile app) how much waste is digested and identifies waste by its supplier.
 


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