Food Waste Repurposed to Achieve a Circular Economy

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Recycled food waste can be converted into pig feed, compost and electricity. To diversify food waste treatment options, the EPA has assisted local governments to build treatment facilities. For example, Nantou County has built facilities to turn food scraps into compost for flowers and has transformed a town into a beautiful garden city. Another example is a bioenergy plant built by Taichung City to convert food waste into green energy. All of these are fruitful achievements of the EPA’s food waste recycling efforts.

Have you ever wondered where the leftover food we hand over to the cleaning crews end up? The EPA explains that the recycled food waste can be used as pig feed or compost, or even used to generate power.

The EPA has been assisting local governments in developing diverse treatment options to increase the food waste processing capacity in Taiwan. The EPA has subsidized the installation of 50 traditional food waste composting plants since 2003. In the last two years, the EPA also subsidized local governments to install 50 sets of shredding and drying equipment to upgrade food waste treatment facilities. The weight of food waste can be reduced by half after the drying process, which greatly reduces the burden for back-end processing. Subsidies were also given to local governments for the installation of 20 sets of fast composting equipment, which is capable of cutting the composting time from three months to just a few days.

Food waste bioenergy plants are being built in Taichung City, Taoyuan City, Taipei City, New Taipei City and Kaohsiung City, among which the one in Taichung City has been completed and is in operation. Taoyuan City plans to finish construction of its plant by the end of July 2021, and all plants are estimated to be completed by 2024. Upon completion, the plants can process 230,000 metric tons of food waste per year and generate 41,970,000 kWh/year of electricity, which can provide a year’s worth of electricity for more than 11,000 homes. The plants will generate an annual revenue of NT$214.79 million from selling electricity and reduce carbon emissions by 22,200 metric tons per year. The plants will greatly increase the food waste treatment capacity in Taiwan and help achieve a circular economy.

The EPA indicates that roughly half of the recycled food waste in Taiwan is turned into compost, which is then sold or provided to the public. Zhushan Town Hall grew flowers with the compost they made from food waste. The flowers were used for public area landscaping, and were also provided to the residents to decorate their homes, transforming the whole town into a spectacular garden city.

Taichung City Government has built a food waste bioenergy plant in Waipu Green Energy Ecopark, which has been effectively using food waste to generate electricity. The power plant has been connected to Taiwan Power Company’s power grids since June 2020. The second stage of the construction for the plant is estimated to be completed by 2023. Upon completion, the plant will be able to process 54,000 metric tons of food waste per year and generate 8,870,000 kWh/year of electricity, which can provide a year’s worth of electricity for 2,540 homes. The plants will generate an annual revenue of NT$45,390,000 from selling electricity and reduce carbon emissions by 4,687 metric tons per year.

The EPA stresses that recycling food waste can bring many benefits. It can effectively reduce the amount of waste that is incinerated and convert waste into useful resources. The EPA also reminds the public to cherish food, keep a green diet, and avoid food waste. In other words, do not overcook, and order only what you can finish and take home the leftovers when eating out.

Excerpt from Environmental Policy Monthly, 23 (9)

Source:
Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)
Updated:
2020-10-29
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