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David Sparks Ph.d Food Waste to Fuel
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Line on Agriculture
Date: November 21, 2017

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We know that food waste is a major problem. According to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization, about a third of all the food produced in the world gets wasted every year. Food losses and waste amount to roughly $680 billion in industrialized countries and $310 billion in developing countries.

Kai Robertson, Director of Food Beverage and Agriculture Practice with the Business For Social Responsibility, sheds light on some startling statistics surrounding the amount of food wasted in the United States each year.

Robertson: “More than 67 billion pounds of food ends up in the landfill -- so that number is actually on the low side and that is a number that has been growing over the last several decades. So the key is to be thinking a bit more innovatively about the topic of food waste.”

Here’s something very innovative. Converting food waste and other organic waste (paper, wood, and yard trimmings, for example) into energy could greatly reduce the amount of discarded food in landfills while also cutting back on methane emissions. Using anaerobic digestion—when microorganisms break down biodegradable materials without oxygen—energy producers could create biogas and renewable natural gas from food scraps. A process that breaks organic material down at really high temperatures— can convert food waste to renewable natural gas, bio-oil, diesel, jet fuel, and biochar, a charcoal product used to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

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