The Waste Act specifies source separation so that food waste can be diverted from landfill.
Have you ever wondered what happens to food waste when it gets thrown in a dustbin and misses the recycling bin?
The average household wastes about 20kgs of food waste every month.
This means that every 2 weeks, 6kg CO2e is released into the atmosphere per household. Add that up in South Africa and you are looking at an estimated 2 million tonnes of CO2e per year. It’s equivalent to the annual emissions of approximately 437,000 cars.
Composting food waste instead of throwing it in a dustbin will cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 98%. Composting only has a carbon footprint of 8.95kg CO2e per tonne of food waste. This is a great reason to learn about bokashi and how to join the recycling of food waste.
Bokashi Bran® was established in April 2012 with a vision to produce the highest quality bokashi to divert food waste from landfill where it causes significant environmental damage.
This method of recycling food waste to compost has many benefits:
• Job creation
• Food security
• Quality and quantity of recyclable materials
• Nutrient-rich soils
• Better water-holding capacity of soil
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Food waste at a landfill site typically accounts for between 35 and 40% of general household waste. The hospitality industry often has an even higher percentage of food waste in their dustbins.
Following the Bokashi Bran® system correctly is a process that treats food waste before processing it into compost. Treating food waste with bokashi has many benefits:
When food waste is dumped in a landfill with general waste, it becomes compacted with other waste streams and begins to rot. This decaying food waste generates methane gas, 84 times more harmful than CO2 over a twenty-year period. The Bokashi Bran® system diverts 100% of food waste from landfills, saving landfill airspace and reducing methane emissions and groundwater pollution. Leachate escapes from a landfill’s decaying food waste, which contains high levels of pathogens and is toxic to soil and groundwater. Many landfills are old and poorly lined, and leachate pollutes groundwater.
From September 2019, all waste streams with moisture content above 40% are banned from South African landfills. Since food waste typically has a moisture content of 77%, food waste is technically already banned.
The National Environmental Management: Waste Act: National Norms and Standards for the Disposal of Waste in Landfills, prohibits all waste with a pH of less than six or greater than twelve. Food waste has a pH between 5 and 6.
The National Waste Minimisation Strategy set a goal of diverting 50% of all organic waste from landfills by 2022 in preparation for a complete ban in 2027.
Apart from the environmental damage caused by food waste in landfills, airspace for landfills is becoming increasingly scarce in South Africa, so diverting food waste to compost or anaerobic digestion is the obvious solution.
For every metric tonne of food waste dumped at a landfill, 626.856 kg of CO2e is released into the atmosphere. This methane is considered the third largest contributing factor to climate change.
The Bokashi Bran® system makes it easy to deal with food waste while benefiting the environment and being one step ahead of the legal frameworks in place to protect the environment.
Safe to compost
EM®, the active ingredient in Bokashi Bran®, owes its discovery to the work of Dr. Teruo Higa, professor, horticultural microbiologist and organic farming researcher at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan.
EM® has evolved over the past forty years and is now used commercially in various fields around the world, including agriculture, livestock, waste treatment, bioremediation, human health, and recycling. Due to its effectiveness and cost-effectiveness, EM technology has spread worldwide. EM was originally developed as an inoculant for soil improvement in cereal, vegetable and fruit crops and has been used with good results. As research and applications of EM evolved in the 1980s and 1990s,
it became apparent that EM was an effective tool for influencing and controlling the overall microbial ecology of complex and diverse systems. In the mid-1980s, animal researchers and producers in Japan began testing EM for odour control and waste management. EM began to be used for wastewater treatment in the late 1980s.
Bokashi Bran® is the only commercially produced Bokashi in South Africa with the certified EMRO® logo and its unique approval number. Bokashi Bran® has been tested as an authentic Bokashi by the EM Research Organisation (EMRO) in Japan.
Bokashi is a technological breakthrough in composting as it eliminates pathogens caused by rotting food waste, especially in cooked foods, proteins (meat products) and dairy products. These three food wastes are traditionally kept away from composting because they are toxic to the soil and responsible for the presence of E-coli, Listeria monocytogene and Salmonella. Bokashi makes it safe to compost these food wastes. In addition, Bokashi speeds up the composting process through the fermentation phase, which helps break down food waste. The Bokashi microbes also contribute to the heating of the compost pile, which further accelerates the decomposition of the organic material.
Taking a very conservative view, the cost of food is about R11 per kg. So an average household wastes about R220 per month in food waste.
The Bokashi Bran® system highlights the amount of food waste that is thrown away and creates awareness of food waste.
A weekly garbage collection is expensive. If food waste were separated at source and treated with bokashi, rather than added to the general waste stream, a weekly pickup would not be necessary and could be switched to a monthly pickup.
The food waste nexus is a critical issue that demands our attention. Shockingly, one-third of all food produced is wasted. The input resources involved in agriculture, energy, labour, water resources, global warming, and depleted soils are all at risk when we waste food.
As a society, we need to become more mindful of our food waste. We must take action to reduce waste and ensure that our resources are used more effectively. This means being more responsible about food production and consumption and implementing innovative solutions to tackle this complex issue.
By addressing the food waste nexus, we can make a significant positive impact on the planet, our communities, and our economies. It’s time to take action and prioritize this pressing issue. Together, we can create a better, more sustainable future for all.