Last week I found an article in the “De morgen” about how supermarkets tackles the problem of food waste. The initiative came from the British supermarket Tesco because research has shown that 68 percent of the packaged lettuce and nearly half of a bread ends up in the trash.  Therefore, they will purchase smaller pockets of lettuce, delete promotions on bigger packages and instead promote smaller packages. Also in the bakery department there will be less bread available for the costumers. Because more than one quarter of the food waste takes place at home, Tesco will give the customers tips how to keep their fruits and vegetables for a longer period and what they can do with their bread leftovers. Not only Britain struggling with this problem, but also in Flanders 500.000 ton food per year ends up in the trash. That is why also Belgian supermarkets take steps to reduce food waste. Delhaize has launched a pilot project to recover unsold food. The Colruyt works with the food bank.

http://www.demorgen.be/dm/nl/997/Consument/article/detail/1726791/2013/10/21/Supermarkten-trekken-ten-strijde-tegen-voedselverspilling.dhtml

Now my question to you is: what do you at home to reduce waste? And what do you think of the initiatives of these supermarkets?

Are you in charge of a small or medium-sized company and you do not know how to get rid of your produced waste without paying a lot of money? Thereby you want to find an environmentally friendly way to manage your waste without any production residue going to landfill or incineration? Well I found the perfect solution: the Belgian exchange for the valorization of waste! This initiative from de FOD Economy, middle classes and energy consists of a large, frequently updated database where you can post completely free ads with supply and demand of waste. With the underlying idea that these by-products are not really waste but rather a secondary raw material. Instead of paying to get off these ‘waste’, you can give them away or even sell them. It is purely an exchange between companies. Goods that are exchanged are agricultural and food products, as well as leather, fur, textiles, paper and paperboard, chemicals and plastics, glass, building materials, earth, stone and other mineral products, metals and alloys, rubber and derivatives … The database is free to use online after you have completed an application form and sent it to the stock exchange for the valorization of waste.

My opinion is that any small or medium sized enterprise should take the effort to think about a green and sustainable waste management. The initiative of the FOD is already a useful tool for it. You don’t have to pay for your waste, you are even making money from it. In addition it is good for the environment and with the use of waste as a secondary raw material you also help the problem of resource depletion. So it is only a little effort to take a look at their website and post an add: http://economie.fgov.be/nl/ondernemingen/leven_onderneming/ondersteuning_premies/Belgische_afvalbeurs/

Composting is probably one of the oldest recycling processes of organic matter. It is the process where vegetables, fruit peels, grass, clippings, leaves and prunings are broken into humus by microorganisms. In fact composting is a way of valorization of waste and is 100 % natural. The formed compost can be used as soil improver. There is a company called ‘sodecom’ who valorize waste products into compost material and subsequently starting from green waste and certain waste streams from the food industry they produce a high quality soil improver in their composting plant (http://www.sodecom.be/). However I think that this is a good process, I think that more peoples should make a compost pile at home. But one can device several reasons to not composting their own kitchen and garden waste. For example they like the simple way by just adding the kitchen and garden waste with the garbage and putting it every week at the end of the driveway. The result? The organic waste (that exists three-quarters out of water) goes probably to an incinerator where the water is burned. This is expensive and also you pay for it. So which way do you prefer? Act lazy and pay more or make your own compost pile and help the environment and your wallet.

Because valorization of waste streams is gaining interest, more and more initiatives are developed. So I recently saw an article from ‘Vlaams infocentrum land-en tuinbouw’ (http://www.vilt.be/Van_boerderij_tot_vuilnisbak_Hoe_reststromen_beter_benutten). It says that a study by the FAO have reported a ranking of how many products meant for human consumption are lost in which stages of the food chain. Root and tuber crops are standing on top of this list. This score is almost entirely due to potatoes that do not meet the quality requirements. This problem also plays in fruit and vegetables in the form of crooked cucumbers. The latter have become a symbolic dossier from the strict European standards. In 2009, the EU adjusted the relevant legislation, but for logistical reasons, the rules stayed applicable in practice.

Notwithstanding people still search for new initiatives for valorization of these by-products. The upgrading of byproducts has always existed in agriculture. Just think of making jam or juice from deformed fruits. In recent years a horticulturist from Nevele started with the marketing of dried tomatoes instead of selling them at low prices as soup-tomatoes. Also a chicory grower from Nivelles invested in a digester for chicory roots, which he provides heat to the nearby printing house with.

I think it is good that peoples at home and in small businesses take their own initiatives against the food waste problem. But it is also a problem at global level and that is why I think that an international approach is needed. Guidelines for waste management should be established which all countries must abide.

What do you think of these initiatives? Do we have to take them by ourselves or is it better to wait for initiatives of the government?

In the post from 24 October I mentioned the controversy between food waste and poverty. Why are more than one billion people hungry while there is enough food to feed everyone? Well, because around a third of it gets thrown away. And that is a problem that is dealt with by the food bank. A food bank is a charity that provides free food to those who are not financially or barely able to provide their own food. For this purpose they collect the existing food surpluses, mainly in the food industry and wholesale distribution, for the benefit of the less fortunate in our country (www.foodbanks.be). It is a great initiative I think because it tackles two problems. But at some times when I am in the supermarket there are also some peoples from the food banks who are collecting food that you have to buy and give to the food bank. I really think that they have to focus more on the industry. Like a company in the Netherlands called ‘HAK’. They implemented that all green beans, applesauce and beets that do not fully meet high quality, but are excellent for consumption, now go to the food bank (http://www.telegraaf.nl/uitwinkelen/article20113908.ece). I think more companies should implement this initiative.

One aim of the RESFOOD project that has not yet been cited in the previous posts is the maximization of the resource productivity. An example of this aspect is the use of solar panels. Solar energy is a renewable energy that is in fact free but you have to invest first in solar panels. But what are the pros and cons from solar panels? I found a list of the advantages and disadvantages on the internet: http://energyinformative.org/solar-energy-pros-and-cons/

In the list are more advantages as disadvantages. First I will give a short summary of the advantages. Solar energy is renewable what means that we cannot run out of it and there is plenty of it. That makes that it is also sustainable because we can never over-consume. Moreover it causes less pollution than other conventional energy sources. Not only the countries that are closest to the equator can use solar energy, it is available all over the world. In addition it reduces the electricity costs because sometimes homeowner produces more electricity than they consume.

However there are still some advantages. The most abundant disadvantage is that it is expensive. Firstly the solar panels are very expensive because sometimes they require materials that are expensive and rare in nature. It is an investment but after a certain time you will take advantage of it. Secondly, the energy storage is expensive. Besides the cost it is also an intermittent energy source because the sunlight is limited at certain times and it is not completely pollution free.

Well, I am already convinced of the use of solar panels. But what do you think about solar energy?

Hello everyone todays post will be about bio-products. You might wonder what my thesis has to do with bio-products. Well I will tell you. The aim of waste valorisation is managing it in the most sustainable way. If we can derive valuable substances, in this case carotenoids, with green technologies than there is an option that they can be used in bio-products. These can create a big advantage with regard to the shelf time of these bio-products because carotenoids are antioxidants.

There are many different opinions about bio-products. Some peoples think they are healthier but other just think that they are more expensive. But the big question is whether they are really beter as ordinary products. On the internet I saw a video from “Volt”, a discussion program on “één”, where Tatyana Beloy raises the question: Is bio healthier or just better as ordinary products?

http://www.een.be/programmas/volt/zijn-bioproducten-beter

The first fragment is located in a local store where she demonstrates the price difference between bio vegetables and ordinary vegetables. The prices of the bio vegetables were significant higher. But where do these prices come from? Wel it comes from the usage of biological pesticides because these are more expensive than the chemical ones and it is more labor expensive. The research revealed that the concentration of vitamins where the same with both by products. This means that bio-products are not necessarily healthier. They did also a research about the content of pesticides in the bio vegetables and they conclude that there where no pesticides found in it. What I doubt more is their test if the taste is better. In their experiment they tested circa 40 peoples who had to say wich apple they like the most. The majority choose the ordinary appel. But I think it is just a question whether you like a sour or a sweet apple most. Now my question to you is what do you think of bio-products? Is it just a way to make more money out vegetables and fruits or do you think it is really healthier?