As you scrape food into the trash, do you ever stop to think about all the resources you’re throwing away along with it? The land it was grown on, the water and fertilizer that helped it grow, the energy used to harvest, store and deliver it?
A new study, by researchers from the University of Texas at Austin and Sustainable America, considered these questions by analyzing the resource use associated with our diet, including the portion that gets wasted. Our infographic breaks down the results.
Schools, campuses, food and beverage producers, and food banks all produce thousands of pounds of food waste each year, and typically have to pay to have the waste hauled to a central location such as a landfill. In landfills, organic matter breaks down and produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas that, if captured, can be a valuable source of energy. Enter Impact Bioenergy: the company’s small anaerobic digester systems, or microdigesters, convert food waste and other organic matter like paper and yard clippings into fertilizer and energy in the form of electricity, heat, and even transportation fuels.
The U.S. industrial farming system has largely left natural fertilizers behind in favor of chemical-based fertilizers in the search for more efficiency and higher yields. But there’s a downside to increased productivity – chemicals strip the soil of its nutrients and damage the natural biome. Farmers have known for millennia that manure, compost and other organic matter benefit the soil. But solid organics are heavy and difficult to spread over the millions of acres of farmland that need it.
We’ve recently invested in a company with an exciting product that gets around both of these problems. Read more about California Safe Soil’s new Harvest-to-Harvest liquid fertilizer made from food waste.