South Africa has one of the highest proportions of food wastage on the continent. It’s estimated that South Africa produces around 10 million tonnes of food waste per year, costing the economy up to R10 billion, according to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
What can the country do to manage its food waste? The most effective place to start is with the national legislation. The South African government has made a commitment to cut food waste by 50% by the end of the next decade.
New laws improve food waste management
New laws and regulations are currently being implemented that will cut food waste and minimise the negative effects of waste on the environment and human health. These laws will also bring about innovation within the food production and waste management industries.
Better benchmarks are being set and businesses are being held to higher standards with regards to their waste outputs. This encourages more sustainable business practices and waste management solutions.
Waste management providers are also devising new ways to recover and process organic waste from the waste stream. Local innovations and tested processes such as composting machines, bioremediation and anaerobic digestion are good alternative solutions that turn food waste into useful byproducts.
Individuals can reduce their food waste
Efforts by the government, food processors, waste management companies and retail stores will significantly reduce the volume of food waste. However, individuals also have a large role to play.
Attitudes towards food need to shift; it needs to be seen as a more valuable resource. Often, leftover food goes to waste in South African households. Fruits and vegetables are left to ripen beyond the point of being edible. We cook and purchase more food than we can consume.
Citizens need to understand the full economic and environmental impacts of food waste. Education and raising awareness is vital for ordinary people to fully understand and comprehend these effects.
Steps to help reduce food waste in the home
Consumers can reduce their food waste by planning their weekly shopping and meals properly. This will prevent shoppers from buying more than they need and will save them money every month.
Another important practice to implement in the home is to separate food waste from recyclables and non-recyclable refuse. This will avoid contamination of recycling batches and prevent biodegradable waste from being sent to landfills. Organic food waste can be composted or converted into biogas.
Have a dedicated compost bin in the kitchen. Place all fruit and vegetable scraps in this compost bin. Composting is an environmentally-friendly practice and produces a natural fertiliser for your garden. Compost can also be collected by your waste management provider if you have no use for it.
Implementing better planning and food management practices in the household is an easy way to save money and reduce food waste output. It will also help the country meet its environmental and waste management goals.
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