Diverting just a portion of the world’s food waste to waste-to-energy systems could free up large amounts of landfill space while powering vehicles and heating homes
Food waste is indeed an untapped resource with great potential for generating energy. Some one third of all food produced around the world gets discarded uneaten, and environmentalists, energy analysts and entrepreneurs are beginning to take notice. Diverting even just a portion of this waste to so-called waste-to-energy (WTE) systems could free up large amounts of landfill space while powering our vehicles and heating our homes, and thus putting a significant dent in our collective carbon footprint. Perhaps that’s why WTE is one of the fastest growing segments of the world’s quickly diversifying energy sector.
Currently there are some 800 industrial-scale WTE plants in more than three dozen countries around the world, and likely thousands of smaller systems at individual sites. Most employ anaerobic digesters, which make use of microorganisms to break down and convert organic waste into a fuel such as biogas, biodiesel or ethanol. With some 70 percent of food waste around the world still going into landfills, there is a lot of potential feedstock to keep this environmentally friendly carbon neutral fuel source coming.
“Waste-to-energy doesn’t involve drilling, fracking, or mining, and it doesn’t rely on scarce and politically-charged resources like oil,” reports RWL Water Group, an international company that installs water, wastewater and waste-to-energy systems. The waste from small slaughterhouses, breweries, dairy farms and coffee shops can power hundreds of typical homes each day if the infrastructure is in place to sort, collect and process the flow of organic material.
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