Organic waste from shops and the kitchen
Formerly food rests were hardly noticed. In the countryside people and neighbors had animals, mostly pigs or chicken, to which the bits left over were fed so it was only in the households in the city that food rests ended up in the waste. Waste from markets, shops and restaurants were also mostly used to feed animals in farms.
In the second half of the last century this changed gradually. The increasing surplus generated a decrease in food prices, which led to greater quantities being bought and consumed. As a consequence of higher requirements as to freshness and quality, food products which would be consumed without hesitation in former times are now considered inedible.
Legal provisions regarding health and hygiene were added with for instance the introduction of due dates, leading shops and consumers to through away goods for safety reasons, which in principle are still consumable. Meanwhile the EU and various national governments have acknowledged the issue and tried to implement new legal provisions to stop wasting food.
Only a few years ago, the majority of food waste was not recycled, but ended up in the residual waste. This was primarily due to the fact that hygiene regulations had become so strict that untreated food could not be used as animal feed without further ado. Only fruit and vegetables that were no longer suitable for sale or unsold bakery products from the trade could still be used in this way without further ado, but fewer and fewer farmers accepted these goods because the feed composition is also determined from the outset in animal breeding.
The situation regarding the use of food waste only changed recently. Since 1990 biogas plants were built which in a first time only processed waste from agricultural origin (manure, mist etc.) and then specially grown energy plants as corn. They could only accept food rests after the legal provisions were amended accordingly (EU directive regarding animal by-products of 2002 and 2009). Food rests have to be heated at least for one hour at 70° C. 22 of the 26 biogas plants in Luxemburg are authorized for the fermentation of waste. Most of them use the so generated biogas to produce heating power and electricity in a block heat and power plant. Only a few of them as for instance Naturgas Kielen process biogas to produce natural gas, which is then introduced in the “normal” natural gas network.
The installation of Minett Kompost in Monnerich has a special status. This communal plant does not accept waste from agricultural origin but processes the full range of organic waste, including garden waste. Hygiene treatment occurs during the heating phase of compost production and in addition to biogas the plant also produces compost.
In the meantime, many municipalities or syndicates have introduced a green bin (most of them for green waste and kitchen waste / food rests). The number of authorized waste processors, which can also accept waste from restaurants and canteens, is quite important with a decreasing effect on the disposal as household waste.
What can the consumer do ?
- Buy only as much as you will consume in the next few days.
- Organise the products in the refrigerator in such a way that the foods that are close to their expiry date are eaten first. Also, foods after their expiry date are still suitable for consumption, but may no longer contain all the vitamins and ingredients: e.g. rice, pasta, instant soups.
- Use the organic waste bin if it is offered in your community.
- Collect organic waste separately in the kitchen. Make sure that the humidity does not get too high.
- Use the option of self-composting if you have the possibility and can use the compost in your garden.
When using the organic waste bin:
- Make sure that the bin stays clean (e.g. by using newspapers, if allowed). Empty the pre-sorting bin at least 2 times a week.
- Put your organic waste bin out every time it is collected, even if it is not full, and choose a shady spot.
- The recycling of organic waste is very important. It provides resources for the production of energy. It serves climate protection so directly because the gases produced are used. The production and use of compost also contributes to CO2 reduction.
- But consumers today should also think about prevention and consume food consciously. This includes a balanced diet, more organic food, less meat and avoiding food waste through responsible purchasing.
- Further questions can be answered by the SDK and, of course, the contact persons of the municipalities and syndicates.
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