Coffee: it’s every workaholic’s go-to beverage and, astoundingly, perfect for manufacturing sportswear. Nowadays, it isn’t just perfect for a pick-me-up — it’s potentially fueling London’s signature double-decker buses.
“Instead of sending a tonne of waste coffee grounds to landfill where it degrades and releases methane and CO2, we collect it, recycle it and turn it into a renewable fuel which is then used to replace further conventional fuels – so it’s a double saving”, [said] Bio-bean founder Arthur Kay.
Among the heaviest Americano consumers, Londoners contribute up to 200,000 tons of coffee waste annually. To make the most out of discarded grounds, Bio-bean is extracting 6,000 liters of oil to mix into fuel. The final blend is of 20% biofuel, which will also help to reduce carbon emissions.
“We’re not saying that it’s going to totally replace fossil fuels overnight,” Kay said.
“The amount of diesel produced globally is always going to be more than the amount of coffee.”
Considering London buses run nearly 2 billion trips a year, Bio-bean’s initiative could encourage alternative energy use. Perhaps a beer fuel may even be in talks.
To address a growing number of hungry students, New York public schools transitioned into free lunch programs. As the issue of child hunger becomes increasingly dire, schools across the U.S. are finally taking action together. With 13 million children underfed each day, institutions are launching share table initiatives, which also combat food waste.
All students need to do is leave unwanted food or drinks at a designated station where others can help themselves. Any food left at the end of the day can go towards afterschool programs, or a nearby shelter or nonprofit.
The program works around federal school lunch restrictions, in which cafeterias cannot re-serve day-old food. Additionally, states require children to take a certain amount of food — often more than they need.
“The first goal is to make sure there’s no hungry kids at school,” [said] volunteer Jennifer Janus… “The second goal is to bring the food here so we can feed the hungry people our town … This is all food that would get thrown away. Food is not trash.”
The USDA is now on board with the scheme, also encouraging schools to offer new and healthier lunch options. As the saying goes, sharing is caring!
Nowadays, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” has never been truer. We’re turning garbage into anything from furniture to vodka, and it seems we can push the limits even further. Engineering group Arup is proving just that, proposing the use of food waste in building materials.
The report aims “at demonstrating that a different paradigm for materials in construction is possible.” This could be done by diverting, in part, organic waste that is traditionally managed through landﬁll, incineration and composting to become a resource for the creation of construction engineering and architecture products.
According to Arup, bananas can produce textiles, while mushrooms can grow actual towers. It seems, with food waste, it’s best to let one’s imagination run wild — and for good reasons.
Using food waste for building materials would help create a circular economy where organic waste, instead of being disposed, is the main resource… This would help ameliorate rising levels of waste and shortfalls of raw material, as well as providing the industry with cheap, low carbon materials.
Looking to renovate your home? No need for concrete fillers — just use rice!
The best things in life are free, or so they say. People like Katryna Robinson are making the most of hotel freebies by donating them to the needy. Now, a free shopping market in New Zealand is cutting food waste (and hunger) by selling surplus food.
The Free Store is a nonprofit organization that redistributes surplus food from local businesses… to those in need. It was inspired by a two-week art project… where artist Kim Paton filled a shop with surplus food items from bakeries and supermarkets. Anyone visiting the shop could take what they wanted free of charge.
In New Zealand, the amount of food that goes to waste is staggering at over 120,000 tons. Just like a similar shop in Norway, The Free Store redistributes expired food still fit for a perfectly good meal. At present, they are selling about 250,000 food items per annum.
“We saw the potential in an untapped food supply. You had food that was perfectly good to eat, and then you had people that were hungry. We could facilitate a connection between the two,”
Initiatives such as this one are becoming increasingly popular around the world. While I’m all for consuming anything “spoiled but scrumptious”, I am more enthusiastic about how things are looking up for those in need.
In the past few months alone, the zero-waste community has grown exponentially. Environmental enthusiasts are ever going as far as hosting sustainable wedding receptions. Waste-free shops are manifesting across all seven continents, including this charming boutique in London.
“I created a shop that I wish existed. I wanted to cut packaging, I wanted to cut my footprint, and found it very difficult as supermarkets pack everything.” [said shop owner Ingrid Caldironi]
The shop, dubbed Bulk Market, boasts a wide range of organic products. Home essentials, including fresh produce, chocolates, and hair products, rest comfortably on its shelves. Caldironi’s ultimate goal is to prevent excessive buying and packaging waste.
“Why can’t we shop with smaller exact portions – 1-2 carrots, 1-2 eggs; why big packets with the environmental waste that goes with it?”
As an avid lover of omelettes, I’m not entirely sure 2 eggs would get the job done. However, the initiative is more than commendable, especially for environmental aficionados on a budget.
To accommodate a plethora of customers and increase sustainability, supermarkets across the globe have been making changes. From hosting seasonal “quiet hours” to selling perfectly edible expired products, chains are catering to various needs better than ever. Aiming to reduce both waste and poverty, Aldi is donating all its unsold fresh foods to underprivileged families.
“As Aldi stores will shut at 4pm on Christmas Eve until December 27, they will have a variety of good quality surplus food products that they will wish to redistribute in support of less fortunate individuals and to prevent food going to waste.” [the supermarket announced.]
To stay organized, Aldi is inviting local charities to collect the items for distribution. Each branch hopes to set out at least 20 to 30 crates of leftover food. So far, the initiative is gaining traction and supporters, all thanks to social media.
“Kudos to Aldi arranging for dispersal of unsold food on Christmas Eve to organisations helping those in need. Let’s hope others follow suit. Well done.” [said a netizen.]
Talk about killing two birds with one stone — except maybe the stone is an apple.
For homeless shelters across the globe, food shortages are a constant, pressing reality. On the other hand, restaurants deal with a baffling amount of leftovers. Because of this, apps like MealTech are helping facilitate donations, while select farms are growing produce for the needy. To alleviate waste issues at football games and do some good, Texas Christian University students are hauling tons of leftovers to shelters.
The donations are coordinated by the TCU Food Recovery Network, a student organization that works to eliminate food waste on campus, and Sodexo, the university’s food service company. The student organization also delivers leftovers from the campus dining hall to Union Gospel Mission twice a week.
With up to 40% of food supply wasted annually in the United States alone, it’s good to know perfectly good coleslaw isn’t being tossed. The Food Recovery Network, led by senior student Megan McCracken, also volunteers to serve their donations personally.
“People really want to help out, but they don’t know how to help out sometimes,” [food services director Robert] Clethan said. “They just need to know there’s a place like this that can use things like that.”
Thanks to TCU, Union Gospel feeds nearly 300 residents three times a day. Now that’s a feast!
Over the years, countries outside of Asia and Africa have opened up to stranger delicacies. A pub in Brussels is serving crickets in a variety of flavors. Jumping on the insect bandwagon is Entocycle, a startup attempting to turn fly larvae into a source of protein.
Not only can the larvae of black soldier flies be made into animal feed, but they also gobble down food waste during their short lives, doubling the environmental benefits of Entocycle’s automated system.
Okay, so we’re not going to be feasting on worm burgers anytime soon, but we can remain optimistic about our livestock and aquaculture. The larvae are also easy to raise.
The larvae of black soldier flies… will feast on organic waste from [a] large range of sources, including breweries and commercial kitchens. Because they are not picky [about] what they eat, black soldier flies are well-suited to being raised in an automated system.
Female black soldier flies can lay up to 1,000 eggs at a time. Harvesters use 5% of eggs to repopulate new cycles. They hatch the other 95% and turn them into feed as quickly as within a week.
The process is simple and affordable, which makes it no surprise that Entocycle has raised $1 million in grant money. Insect protein may not yet be the norm, but holds promise for the near future.
For some, chocolate is the cure to a broken heart. For me, it’s a cold brew. With news of a probiotic “healthy” beer in the making, I couldn’t imagine anything better — until Trash Tiki. The sustainable pop-up bar serves tasty, low-impact cocktails made with food waste. Spearheading the project are Kelsey Ramage and Iain Griffiths.
The duo’s website features a recipe for citrus stock that makes use of already-juiced fruit, to address the fact that “citrus is once again front and centre, this time as it is by far the biggest waste product of any craft cocktail bar.”
Trash Tiki also hosts industry seminars that are open to the public — conveniently dubbed Trash Talks. The bartending twosome are among the first of their kind, stating that waste reduction is a priority mostly in restaurants.
“Perhaps surprisingly, (zero/anti-waste) isn’t really an idea that has infiltrated the bar scene that much — certainly not as much as the rest of restaurants, like it does in kitchens,”
Making the drinks are often hours-long ordeals. But if it’s doing a service to the planet (and my liver), then perhaps worth the wait.
If there is a better, cleaner, and faster way to make something, it’s probably the way to go. Synthetic wine is proving just that. The process uses no grapes but it just as tasty as any Sauvignon. Now, the brewing industry is following suit with Toast Ale craft beer, made from wasted bread.
Since Toast Ale launched in the U.K. in 2016, it has saved a total of 11 tons of bread from becoming trash there. In July 2017, Toast Ale expanded to the United States… By this time next year… Toast Ale will be saving 907 kilograms of bread a month in New York City alone, nearly 12 tons a year.
While the process may sound unusual, it has actually been common practice for some 7,000 years. Toast Ale works with existing breweries to avoid the hassle of building an entirely new facility. Also, the bread they work with is far from bad — so why have they been discarded?
Supermarkets demand that produce look a certain way, forcing suppliers to throw out perfectly good produce. Because the cost falls on the supplier, supermarkets are not incentivized to help reduce waste.
While I am throwing said markets some serious side eye, it’s businesses like Toast Ale that make living sustainably dough-able.