No matter how hard we try, inevitably there will be a time when we have something in the kitchen that cannot be eaten. Vegetable peelings, meat scraps, a burnt offering, a long forgotten something you find at the back of the cupboard, refrigerator or freezer, something in damaged packaging that has gone bad. Some food waste is unavoidable, it is what you do with it that is the important thing.
Should you bin it?
Food waste in a landfill site rots down over time anaerobically, without air, generating green house gasses which are released into the atmosphere. Increasingly councils are looking at ways to help reduce food waste in landfill sites by providing householders with bins specifically for food waste. This waste is transported to a central processing site and ultimately turned into a composted material. However if you don't have access to food waste bins and/or want to reduce your food miles this may not be the best option for you.
Should you use a food waste disposal unit?
Waste disposal units are a motorised food processor attached to the sink in your kitchen. The blades macerate the food waste into a runny slop which then enters the sewerage system, a bit like eating it but missing out the middle man. This waste may be collected with the other biodegradables in our sewers and processed to a composted material which is spread on the field to feed the soil. This does not always happen, much of it is pumped out to sea. Waste disposal units are costly to instal and need to be maintained. In addition to this solid fats that are poored down the sink or go down with the washing up water cause very real problems to our drains and sewers. The fat solidifies and and builds up over time causing blockages. We then use detergents and nasty chemicals to break these fats down again. Not nice really.
This then begs the question "Should you process it yourself?"
All of the food waste we generate in our own homes can ultimately be processed and disposed of at home. Most of us have access to one or more of the following waste disposal methods so have a look at them and consider whether you can follow one or more to reduce your land fill and Co2 emissions contribution;
- Cats and dogs are great eaters of raw and cooked waste meat, meat products and some bones
- Vegetarian pets like rabbits and guinea pigs will happily much their way through your waste vegetables.
- Chickens are becoming increasingly popular as domestic pets and are a great way to dispose of some food waste including raw and cooked vegetables, bread, cake, pasta, rice and dairy products. Chickens are particularly fond of non poultry fats, like the rind from bacon and solidified dripping from a roast, it is not recommended that you give them too much meat and don't encourage tham to eat eggs, although the shells are good for them.
Very few of us have no access to the wild bird population. Many birds are vegetarian however there are a large number of carnivores amongst them too. The wild birds love to eat;
- Waste bread, cake, rice, pasta, nuts, grains and cereals.
- Small amounts of meat and meat products including the fat from bacon or a roast and the skin off poultry and fish. Have a care when putting out meat products that you do not encourage unwanted guests. Meat waste should be a treat rather than a staple on your bird table
- Solid cooking fat and the fat from a roasting pan, These solid fats can easily be mixed with wild bird seed to make homemade fat balls.
- Liquid cooking oils and chicken fat can be successfully soaked into stale bread.
- Wild birds are not so keen on raw or cooked vegetables however they will eat most fruits, including berries, and cooked potatoes.
Compost heaps and composting food digesters
Compost heaps and food digesting systems are great lovers of any type of food waste. Unless you are an experienced composter it is best to compost only raw vegetable matter in a standard garden compost heap. For more experienced compost makers disposing of cooked veg, raw and cooked meat are the ultimate challenge and these types of food waste can successfully be disposed of using a Wormery, Bokashi bran and compostable food digesters such as The Green Cone.
Amongst these options there should be something that fits your circumstances. If you want any more information then please ask.