Zero Waste Week 2013 Is Here

zero waste week 2013

Setting yourself a challenge is a good way to shake off any bad habits or complacency that have snuck quietly into your life and for the 6th year running, green queen Rachelle Strauss (who I interviewed in one of my first posts) has today launched Zero Waste Week to help you to exactly this.

The focus for 2013 is food waste which I have blogged about many times before and I’m sure it’s an area of waste that most people can improve upon.

The aim of the game is to push yourself to not throw any leftovers or other food into the bin or on the compost heap but to think of creative ways to use them up at mealtimes.

But Doesn’t Food Decompose Anyway?

You’re probably wondering why all the bother. After all, doesn’t the food you throw in your brown recycling bin end up generating energy and if food ends up on landfill it surely rots away quickly right?

Yes and no.

Yes food waste collected by your local council probably ends up in a waste to energy facility where biogas is created as food and other material decomposes but when this gas is then burned for energy, it still produces greenhouse gases.

While some seem to claim that this is carbon neutral because plant matter has absorbed CO2 while growing which is then released back into the atmosphere, I can think of numerous reasons why this is utter rubbish:

  1. for some foods, energy is required to process raw ingredients into edible products and this is energy that cannot be recovered through anaerobic digestion plants
  2. you can put scraps of meat in your brown bins and there is no way that I can see that any amount of combustible fuel generated from decomposing this would offset the emissions from the animal – the carbon footprint of meat is huge as I described here
  3. food is often transported by road, rail, sea and even air and this produces emissions (I once made a big error buying non-seasonal asparagus which has a huge footprint because it is flown over from Peru)
  4. many foods have to be chilled both during transportation and in shops – refrigeration gases are nasty things which can leak and enter the atmosphere where they have many times the warming potential of carbon dioxide
  5. if you’ve cooked food and then thrown it away, that is energy that cannot be recovered at these waste to energy plants
  6. if an expert wants to correct me then feel free but I doubt very much whether waste to energy plants run at 100% efficiency meaning not all of the energy within the rotting material can be converted back into fuel

Don’t get me started on food that ends up in landfill either – not only can it take far longer to decompose on landfill sites because of the compaction that takes place, rotting food generates methane which is much more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2 – this is same gas generated in the waste to energy plants.

We are also running out of landfill space in the UK which means eventually new sites will have to be created and who wants that?

So think again if you assume that you are necessarily being green by putting your food scraps into a brown bin (though this is still far better than putting it in a normal black bin).

Zero Waste Week To The Rescue

So I’ve hopefully convinced you that wasting food of any sort is far from ideal but just what can you do about it?

Well that is where Zero Waste Week 2013 comes in – by signing up and following all the conversations on places like Facebook and Twitter, you’ll learn how to use up leftovers and turn them into tasty meals, you’ll learn how to keep things fresher for longer and you’ll find help on how to shop efficiently so you don’t end up with too much food in the first place. All that plus so much more…

So what are you waiting for – it starts today – sign yourself up here:

Steve (156 Posts)

I am chief writer and editor on Green Steve. Blogging since 2011, I like to delve into a wide number of topics to help people reduce their carbon footprint. You should follow me on Twitter here. And add me to your Google+ circles here.

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