Posted by Elle Williams-Figueroa | November 6, 2017
What you need to know about waste, its impact on people and the planet, and how FoodForward SA is playing a key role in addressing this dilemma through food rescue.
South Africa currently produces the 15th highest amount of trash every day at 54 425 tonnes, according to the World Bank. But the amount of waste produced per household every day is roughly two kilograms, which is 38th globally. This means business and industry remain the core contributors to waste.
46% of the world’s solid waste is organic material, with 17% being paper, 10% plastic, 5% glass and 4% metal. The World Bank’s data shows that only 1% of all waste is recycled, with 59% ending up in landfill sites or 33% being dumped.
Here are three of the most common problems caused by increasing waste in landfills:
Because of how the many different materials end up in landfill, toxins are released and eventually seep into the soil and groundwater. These toxins can seep into the ground water and the soil spreading into the environment and causing catastrophic results for numerous years afterwards.
Leachate is the liquid that forms when the waste in a landfill breaks down and water filters through and picks up the toxins. This can happen when it rains on a landfill. This can produce a toxic combination, including the following chemicals:
- Carbon Dioxide
- Organic Acids
The chemical cocktail can penetrate into the soil and ground water contaminating it. This can cause health risks for any who come into contact with it, even decades later.
- Greenhouse Gases
Organic waste is typically compacted when dumped in a landfill. This process removes oxygen, causing the material to break down producing methane, which is hazardous to our environment and is also flammable and can be dangerous in large concentrations.
Embrace the three R’s
- Reduce the amount you consume. The fewer items you buy, the fewer things you need to throw away.
- Reuse everything and anything you can. You can reuse a container again and again for the same or an alternative purpose instead of buying yet another product. A large-scale example of this is the glass bottle returnable deposit system, where you receive a small amount for returning the bottle to the retailer. Upcycling also falls under reusing, this is the process whereby you repurpose an item into a new product and give it a new life.
- Recycle to extract valuable, reusable material from a waste item and allow it to be processed into a new product. Although this does help to reduce waste in landfills, it is resource intensive and reduce and reuse should be considered before recycling.
How FoodForward SA is making an impact
A third of all food produced in South Africa is wasted, while more than 14 million people go hungry each day. FoodForward SA is the catalyst that connects a world of waste to a world of need by recovering edible surplus food in the supply chain.
“We have been able to reduce our cost per meal from R1.08 last year to R0.86 per meal this year. This is a function of our ability to grow the tonnage of food that was rescued and distributed,” says Crispin Sonn, Chairperson for FoodForward SA.
“Tonnage of food collected this year is up 35% from 3.3 million tons to 4.3 million tons, which translates into 14.5 million meals,” adds Andy Du Plessis, Managing Director of FoodForward SA.
What can you do to help?
Do your part by reducing your waste, reusing old items and recycling what you can to help prevent toxic environments around the country. You can also make donations to FoodForward SA to help us reduce the amount of hungry South Africans, or host food drives to help FoodForward SA fill even more empty tummies in 2018 and beyond.