Food waste is a reckless phenomenon that exacerbates environmental and public health concerns. Every year, over 70 million tons of food waste are generated in the US alone, a number which is expected to increase as the population does. Most of this waste accumulates in landfills, where potent greenhouse gasses such as methane are released as a result. Since landfills are initially a convenient way of disposing of our waste, we have come to over-rely on dumps.
A Viable Solution
After donating edible food to those in need or converting inedible food into compost, anaerobic digestion (AD) is the best waste disposal method in terms of greenhouse gas reductions. It uses a community’s own organic waste to create biogas, a form of renewable energy, by utilizing the power of microorganisms. This allows communities to both manage their contributions to landfills and create a new form of energy to use, which diversifies their energy supply and improves energy resiliency.
AD can be integrated on either a large scale such as a large urban anaerobic digester that uses the entire city’s organic waste, or on a much smaller scale such as one that is family, farm, or community-based. Whichever way it is implemented, it can lead to economic benefits by creating green jobs and freeing up space that would otherwise be taken up in landfills. Not to mention the serious reductions in air and water pollution stemming from landfills.
At the Saikawa Lab
We're working on a project called
From Food Waste to Biogas through Anaerobic Digestion
as a prototype for the City of Atlanta and to curtail environmental justice concerns.