We sort recyclables in our facilities, where waste becomes resource
I am absolutely delighted with the recycling service on Thursdays! I'm not sure who to thank, but it's made such a difference - firstly, our normal waste is reduced so that it doesn't matter that much if the city council doesn't turn up, and secondly, it's wonderful not to have to look for recycling depots for all the waste. Nellien Brewer
Sit back. I have some staggering statistics for you. One-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted every year. This ball-and-chain reality comes with a price tag - 7,5 trillion dollars, to be exact. As we drag this fiscal deadweight into our future, the other undeniable offense is the 1.3 Gtonnes of rotting food that lingers every year like a stench to our consciences.
Take a moment to imagine this. 28% of the land used for agricultural purpose grow crops that are wasted every year. That's roughly the size of China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan. And the water used to irrigate those crops equates to the yearly flow rate of the Volga or Zambezi River - an amount that could meet the household needs of the entire world population. According to its carbon footprint, Food Waste stands as its own country, third only to the USA and China, with 3,3 Gtonnes of greenhouse gases trailing annually in its wake. Its so-called blue water footprint (the consumption of surface and groundwater resources) is about 250 km³, which is equivalent to 3.6 times the consumption of the USA for the same period. Just in South Africa alone, approximately 1.7 km3 of water is extracted from ground and surface water bodies to produce food that is eventually squandered. This is about one-fifth of South Africa’s total water withdrawals - the equivalent of approximately 600 000 Olympic-sized swimming pools - at a ballpark cost of R260 million. Furthermore, biodiversity on land and in sea is gravely endangered, as the rate of deforestation and overfishing desperately tries to keep up with the pace of our consumption.
This, surely, is not acceptable. Not when there are seven billion solutions. It just takes some conviction, some innovation, and, in Jason Drew's case, some maggots. He calls it MagMeal™. And though not what we would necessarily choose for supper, the animals seem to love it.
Based outside Stellenbosch, Western Cape, Agriprotein is now a leading voice in a new eco-capitalist arena known as nutrient recycling. With a projected two billion more people on the planet by 2050, the demand for chicken, beef, fish and pork will rise exponentially. It's called the "animal protein crunch". In order to feed all these animals that, in turn, feed our carnivorous cravings, vast amounts of land and water are required to harvest soya-based or marine life protein. It takes a minimum of 1.5 kilograms of fish meal to make one kilogram of farmed chicken meat, a scandalous plunder of already-limited marine biodiversity. "We are fishing out the ocean to feed our pigs,” says Paul Vantomme of the FAO. “That is not a wise long term solution."
Agriprotein bypasses this inefficient cycle. Through cutting edge technology and tight monitoring systems, flies feed on abundant clean waste sources, laying their eggs and essentially destining their offspring to become the next meal for fowl and fish. The first operational stage acts like a worm bin on steroids, turning one hundred and ten tonnes per day of organic food waste into a loamy soil enhancer called MagSoil™. After a strenuous process of separating, sterilising and preparing the larvae, the 7 tonnes of MagMeal™, 3 tonnes of MagOil™ and 20 tonnes of MagSoil™ are packed and ready for delivery at the end of every day.
Says Jason Drew in his book, The Story of The Fly and How It Could Save The World, "We take for granted the fact that we should recycle our glass, newspapers, tin and more recently plastic and water...But creating and discarding nutrients in the form of sewerage, manure and abattoir blood has a far higher environmental impact. When we start to recycle these we will be truly on the path to some sustainability for our planet."
Waste Plan has chosen to walk that path with Agriprotein. They've teamed up with the "lord of the flies" to be one of those seven billion solutions, by ensuring a steady supply of clean food waste on a weekly basis. Through their partnership with a leading hotel chain in Cape Town, Waste Plan is educating and empowering the hotel staff to turn their scraps into sustenance. Though the project is still small beginnings, plans are underway to broaden the scope of assistance. Says Francois du Plessis, Operations Manager of Waste Plan, Western Cape, "We are very excited about this project, particularly when we consider its potential to grow and impact on a broader scale. It's an innovative green solution that we want to champion from the sidelines."
Using nature's muck to break the downward cycle of extermination. Now there's something to cheer about.