Is Food Waste Destined to Become Our Next Renewable Energy Source?

car corn fuel blue sky food

In order for us to become a more sustainable society, significant changes need to be made. In many parts of the world there are individuals, families and entire communities struggling to survive on the minuscule portions of food. Others scrounge for whatever materials they can get their hands on. Most people need to make do with what they have. Yet, there are individuals and organizations in first world countries who do not even think twice about wasting food or other usable materials.

food bins waste renewable energyIf sustainability is the goal…and it very well should be…then is food waste destined to become our next renewable energy source? Maybe people believe food waste (along with other source of renewable energy) can fuel the future. Take a look at Vermont City. This city reached a major milestone in that 100% of Virginia City’s power is now renewable.

Does food waste have a future as a renewable energy source? Can it play a significant role the powering of homes, businesses and large communities? What strides have already been made towards making food waste into a viable energy source?

First let’s take a look at the shocking cost of food waste.

ROTTEN!  Global Annual Food Waste

There are various ways food waste can be turned into energy. In this first instance, food scraps are being used to fuel the rise in vertical farming Chicago is currently experiencing. Food waste comes in, gets turned into biogas, which is then burned to generate power for the indoor lights used to grow vegetables. This Sacramento neighborhood is converting food waste into fuel, biofuel to be exact. The process will come full circle as the biofuel can then be used to fuel waste collection trucks.
food compost renewable energy fuel

Los Angeles County is also looking at dramatically curbing its use of landfills by diverting food waste for the purpose of fueling vehicles. As it stands now, the county diverts upwards of 62% of its waste from landfills. Why not use that waste to fuel vehicles and generate power for various county-owned properties? Makes sense to me. Scientific American reports that British Airlines plans to have its flights, going from London to New York City, powered by municipal waste as early as the year 2017. Even the Air Force Academy is piloting a food waste to energy program.

While cutting down on the amount of food we waste is vital, we also need to continue to come up with ideas on how to reuse or recoup our losses and turn them into gains. The more renewable energy we can generate or tap into, the better off we as a society will be in the long run.
Car with blue sky image by Robert Swier, food in bins image by Meaduva and food waste image by jbloom via Flickr Creative Commons license.

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