ITO Thailand Hygiene Blog
Challenge of waste management for sustainable food industry
How can we develop a sustainable organization for the future and future generations? One of the solutions may be to start with managing waste and waste in the organization as its impact may be more far-reaching than you think.
Sustainability is often the subject of discussion for today’s people in planning for the future for future generations, including in the food industry. In the previous article, we covered the origins importance, and examples of adaptations to make the food industry more sustainable, such as change of the type of packaging, development of new raw material sources, and energy and resource management, etc.
Waste management in food supply chain
One of the sustainability policies for food industry organizations often involves waste management, whether it is improving the production process to reduce waste, processing, or reselling waste to other industries, such as the extraction of functional substances, oil extraction, use as biofuels or animal feed, etc. In the case of the downstream food industry, such as retail stores, consideration may be made on adjusting order volumes and increasing efficiency in warehouse management in line with actual consumer demand to reduce the amount of expired products, including sales promotions to maximize the benefits. As for restaurants, they may consider more environmentally friendly packaging, menus that align with the amount of ingredients and food from sustainable raw materials, etc.
In addition to the waste from food raw materials, waste from equipment and tools that employees must use and dispose of regularly is also another important factor that affects the amount of waste of the organization. This is especially regarding equipment for good hygiene in food production such as plastic gloves, masks, hair nets, paper rollers, dirt trapper glue sheets. These are used regularly and generate substantial waste.
Effects of agro-industry waste
•Cost of production and organizational resources
These disposable tools are a huge production cost. Especially in the case of a large number of employees, sufficient tools must be provided for the employees as well. In addition to the amount of money that must be spent to purchase the tools, the management of storage to store large quantities of tools must also be considered. Also, to be taken into account are the disbursement and procurement processes, disposal after use to avoid cross-contamination to food, including the cost of transporting waste for disposal which will increase according to the volume or weight of the waste generated.
The waste disposal process in Thailand still has issues with the efficiency of the proper disposal. Reusing, fermentation using biological methods, use as fuel in standard incinerators, and landfills cannot support the total amount of waste generated. This causes issues of improper waste disposal, such as open burning or stoves that do not meet pollution management standards and unlawful garbage disposal. Every year, there is still the amount of waste that cannot be disposed. In 2021, the amount of solid waste that was incorrectly disposed of was 7.81 million tons, and 7.50 million tons of residue (1). Some waste that cannot be disposed of and is improperly disposed of may affect the environment, such as the behavior of wildlife and birds that have changed the natural way of foraging for food to digging through garbage. There is a chance that these wastes may contaminate water, sea, ocean, affecting aquatic animals. For example, aquatic plants cannot grow because the waste float on the surface of the water. The aquatic animals then eat garbage because they think it is prey. Some waste may get wrapped around the animals, causing them to be unable to move normally and die.
Therefore, in addition to waste separation to allow waste that can be made use of to have the opportunity to get out of the waste cycle, and separation of wet waste that can be eliminated by biological methods, reduction of other waste at the source is another sustainable way to help the environment and to preserve other lives in the global ecosystem as well.
In addition to effects on the animals, plastic waste that contaminates the sea may dissolve into micro and nanoparticles called microplastics and nano plastics, which are small enough to infiltrate human cells and affect health. The ways in which humans are most exposed of these tiny plastics are eating contaminated seafood or drinking water that contains these plastics, including eating other ingredients such as sea salt, sugar, honey, etc. The consequence is the risk of cancer and malfunction of various organ cells (2). Therefore, the issue of waste that cannot be disposed of properly will eventually find its way back to the humans.
Waste reduction innovation case study
Since waste reduction is a relatively important issue for sustainability, many innovations have been developed to reduce waste in the food industry. For this article, we would like to raise a case study of replacing glue rollers and disposable dust trapper mats with reusable dust rollers and dust trapper mats to reduce waste generation while maintaining the usual standards of preventing contamination from employees.
⇒Conditions of comparison
•Working days are 20 days/month
•Reusable urethane gel dust trapper can be reused for 2 years.
•Comparison of samples 1-2 and 3-4
* This information is based on the given comparison conditions only.
If you are interested in comparing waste reduction conditions and reducing the cost of buying these products, you can contact us for the calculation of the cost-effectiveness and the replacement break-even period using your actual data for environmental sustainability.
2.Shams, M., Alam, I., & Mahbub, M. S. (2021). Plastic pollution during COVID-19: Plastic waste directives and its long-term impact on the environment. Environmental advances, 5, 100119.
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