At the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26 summit) in Glasgow this past week, there was much emphasis on the need to reduce methane emissions. Methane is a gas (CH4) that derives from many sources and that has a global warming potential (GWP) 87 times higher than carbon dioxide (CO2). It is critically important that all sources of methane be significantly reduced.
If your business serves, processes, or distributes food, you could be inadvertently contributing to methane emissions, resulting in your organization having a very high carbon footprint.
Organic material — including food waste — decomposes in one of two ways: aerobically and anaerobically.
Aerobic decomposition takes place in the presence of oxygen and is part of the natural carbon cycle. The process produces CO2 which is then absorbed by plants as they grow to produce more organic material. The process is thus carbon neutral. This process is odorless and is akin to walking in a forest with all the organic material on the forest floor decomposing.
Anaerobic decomposition takes place in the absence of oxygen and produces methane and other smelly gasses. This is what happens when food waste is buried on a landfill and is why no one wants a landfill near their home. This production of methane is not carbon neutral and contributes to the climate crisis.
If your business disposes of food waste by sending it to the landfill it is therefore contributing greatly to the climate crisis and this is why it has received so much attention from politicians and climate scientists alike.
For example, a business that sends 500 kg (1200 lb) of waste food to a landfill causes 750 tonnes of CO2 equivalent GWP per year. In perspective, this is equivalent to driving the average American car 1,875,000 miles (3,000,000 km) according to the EPA (or twice that for this author’s hybrid car).
We can see that improving the fuel efficiency of cars is important, it is critically important to get food waste out of the landfill. There are many ways a company can do this but one that has gained significant popularity is the use of an aerobic biodigester. These machines digest the organic waste in a quiet and clean environment in the presence of oxygen so there are no smells. The machines are typically installed where the waste is generated — often in the kitchen or preparation area — and offer great convenience for the disposal of the waste.
To learn more about what kind of biodigester best suits your facility, contact Power Knot today.