Ecotone Blog

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Food Waste and Climate Change

May 30th, 2020

 

The mission here at Ecotone is to close the food waste loop, but what is the problem? Why do we need to take action against organic material in the landfill? A very commonly held belief is that while throwing food in the trash can may not be very economical, at least it does not harm the planet. As nice as that notion is, it is unfortunately very far from the truth. 

 

The most important side effect of food waste is greenhouse gas emissions. If not disposed of properly, food waste wreaks havoc on the planet by leaking greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Here is how it works:  

 

When you throw away food in your trashcan, whether it be scraps from something you ate or a whole bag of produce you forgot about and let go bad, you are beginning its journey towards greenhouse gas emissions. When food waste reaches the landfill, it gets dumped on top of tons more waste; organic and inorganic. By the next day it is covered by more waste and can no longer see daylight. This compression cuts off access to oxygen, thus starting the process of anaerobic decomposition. A unique aspect of this process is the release of methane, a greenhouse gas 34x more potent than carbon dioxide. As methane and other greenhouse gases concentrate the atmosphere, they trap heat which should instead be reflecting off the Earth back into space.  As emissions build up, more heat will be trapped, and the global temperature will continue to rise. In fact, if all food waste were compiled into a country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas contributor on the planet behind China and the United States. 

 

At Ecotone, we built our Seahorse system which utilizes the anaerobic digestion process to break down organic matter and capture the produced methane for sustainably sourced energy! Unfortunately, most of the methane produced is not captured which is why we must limit food waste as consumers.

 

As long as food waste continues to pile up in landfills, the state of our atmosphere will continue to decline in conjunction with the rest of the planet. Next time you throw away food, think about its future impact in methane production and try to keep it out of the landfill.  For helpful tips on how to reduce your personal food waste at home, check out one of our blog post on reducing food waste at home!

 

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