Diverting food waste into animal feedstock rather than anaerobic digestion (AD) is more environmentally beneficial, according to the author of ‘Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal’.
Speaking at the Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum in London, Tristram Stuart said there was a risk of “pulling [food waste] down the waste hierarchy by putting in place such attractive fiscal incentives” for using AD. “Perhaps this should be balanced out by looking at the benefits of feeding food waste to livestock,” he said.
Stuart calculated that if conventional animal feed was replaced with food waste, twice the carbon emissions would be saved.
He added: “If you include the other emissions associated with livestock production this increases to 500 times the amount of carbon saved when compared to AD. This is a huge potential saving as one of the biggest sources of carbon is food production.”
Farmers in Japan are given grants for substituting conventional animal feed with food waste feed and this approach is a “top priority” according to Stuart. In Japan and Korea centralised plants sterilise food waste and convert it to animal feed, removing this responsibility from farmers, he added.
Tighter Animal By-Products Regulations were introduced in the UK after the outbreak of foot and mouth disease, with certain types of food waste, such as meat and fish, banned from going into animal feed.
Stuart said there was “now a case to re-examine” these regulations at European level and re-introduce the sterilisation of meat for use in animal feed. While stating that he was “not against AD” which was “clearly the best waste management system for many food waste streams” he was concerned about an extreme shift to AD.