Saturday, April 19, 2014

Video - The Rebirth of Food Waste into Fuel in South Korea

In densely populated South Korea food waste is being reborn as methane. Through a process that reduces climate change causing greenhouse gases, the nation is developing new technologies that are transforming daily waste into energy.

The Sudokwon Landfill Site Management Corporation is one of the firms that is generating biogas from food waste water. This alternative source of energy reduces greenhouse gas emissions as well as pollution in the water and the air. For every 1,000 tons of food waste water, 14,400 cubic meters of biogas can be produced. The facilities produce fuels that have been used for about 300 city buses and street cleaning cars.

There are many benefit of biogas, over other fossil fuels. Compared with diesel, biogas is about 45 percent cheaper and in terms of the environment, biogas produces only one third of the air pollutants, such as nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxides. Thanks to this technology, South Korea has reduced the food waste water it dumps into the ocean.

The fuels produced create 2 billion won of economic value every year, while reducing 30,000 tons of greenhouse gas emission each year.

Other local governments are also working to establish facilities that transform food waste, livestock excretions and other organic wastes into biogas. The South Korean government is also active in providing support.

Facilities produce about 130 million cubic meters of biogas annually, which is used as automotive fuel, gas or power generation.

As reported in a March 2014 Guardian article, Steven Borowiec explains South Korea's high-tech solutions to reducing food waste.

High-tech food waste management programs are being piloted in two districts in Seoul. The program works by giving each household a card that has a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip embedded in it containing the user's name and address. They scan their card on a small card-reader on the front of the high-tech bin to get the lid to open, then dump the food waste into the bin and onto the scale at the bottom, which gives a numerical reading of the waste's weight and disposal cost.

Getting rid of food waste is a matter of particular urgency in South Korean households. Last year, the government started a nationwide program to charge residents according the weight of what they were throwing away, a change that officials hope will lead to a nationwide reduction in food waste.

The Ministry of Environment has said that the goal is to eventually reduce total national food waste by 20 percent, thereby cutting waste treatment costs.

Officials in Seoul hope that the program will eventually be implemented throughout the country.

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