by Brenna Timm

Billions of pounds of food are wasted annually in the US. This is not only throwing away a precious resource and money, but factors into our enormous environment problem. Food rots away and releases methane gas in our landfills. This issue has caught the attention of scientists and several solutions are being used around the world. We are going to take a look at the three concepts that are leading the way.

Hydrothermal Liquification

It’s a big word, but the process is fairly simple. The idea is basically to pressure-cook food waste. Oil is created from this process, which is then converted into fuel. The watered-down leftovers then experience anaerobic digestion.  Microbes break down the food waste into gases. These gases can be converted to thermal and electric energy. This method would only require a few days to complete. It is possible in the future that food waste will be separated from other trash for special processing.

Food Waste Energy conversion

Classic Composting

The traditional green way to reduce and manage food waste has been composting. Biodegradable foods create fertilizers when they are separated by composting. These home-made fertilizers are rich in nutrients. You can make composted fertilizer in your own backyard. Knowing which foods can be set aside for composting is the most difficult part. You’re good to go as long as you have a separate space or bin. Classic composting does not produce energy like the previous method. But the focus is on re-using nutrients, so can out way the loss.

Burning Food Waste for Energy

There are many different ways to deal with trash even when it come to burning. Countries in Europe, like Sweden, already have processing plants that manage their waste into energy conversion. The process consists of boiling water from the burning waste. The turbine turns from the steam to generate energy. This method of burning can contribute to emissions and greenhouse gases. However, burning the waste for energy has less of an impact than if the trash were to rot away in a landfill.