DIGIVU & DaveH Rotating Header Image

Green / Sustainability

Sustainable Biogas in Meat Processing

This Australian article shows the state of the art in biogas recovery and consumption.

While biogas has been around and used for centuries, this plant focusses on increasing the sustainability by controlling the anaerobic digesting more efficiently and managing the gas storage and consumption.

The “Green Energy Orb” is just a methane storage tank, but then greenwashing is allowed! 

Spectacular green energy orb to deliver sustainable profits to beef processor FoodProcessing

click the image to view the paper

Savings Through Reducing Pasteurisation Temperature

This is a video published by Tetra Pak, that describes research they undertook to establish whether the standard fruit juice pasteurisation conditions could be reduced to save energy while still guaranteeing shelflife and avoiding product “damage”.

They found that, for orange juice, the second pasteurisation could be reduced from 95C for 15 seconds to 80C. This reduces cost of energy for orange juice filling at 22 000 l/h over 500 shifts a year by 19% and carbon footprint by 20%.

They also found that the across plate temperature difference could be increased from 5 to 20C. This would have significant impact on the heat transfer surface required and hence the capital cost of the pasteuriser.

Should Sun Drying be Rejected as a Food Unit Operation

Papers describing food drying techniques normally list the obvious contamination risks of drying in the open air as a major disadvantage and and based on this dismiss its application. However, the large volumes of food that are sun dried every year and the savings in energy and capital bely this quickly reached conclusion.

Searching the literature and regulations doesn’t give any guidance on the advisability of establishing a new sun drying business.

However, the two videos below show the large scale use of sun drying and the associated technologies applied at Cecilia’s Farm, near Prince Alfred in South Africa.

It seems that the critical point about the sun dried business they run, is that all fruit is washed before further processing and or packaging. Arguably this makes it comparable to fruit which is often not peeled, packaged salad and leafy vegetables. These are grown in the same environment and simply washed before eating.

The massive advantage of sun and to a lesser extent solar drying is that they produce shelf stable foods with minimal environmental impact and low processing and packaging costs.

Do Germans Spend 20 Times More Than Chadians on Food?

Hungry Planet, a recent book by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio, presents the food consumption of households around the world. The results are presented in the form of a picture of the family and the food they ate in a week, just like this German family.

click the image to visit the website

In each case the total cost of the food is given (in this case $500) as well as demographics of the country and some information on favorite foods. Besides just being interesting and revealing eg this German Family drinks 4 bottles of wine in the week while the French family appears to drink only one, it gives a view of food culture an food processing.

Revealing and concerning is the difference between first and third world countries and in particular, Central African countries. The family from Chad spends only $2,50 on food, just a 20th of the German Family!

click the image to visit the website

This is quite startling, although the environmental impact is probably even more interesting given the almost complete lack of processed food, besides post harvest processing, and one way packaging in the food of the Chadian family. While the German family shows that in a week they used around sixty glass, plastic and board beverage containers.

Not much scope for a Food Processor in Chad!

The answer to the question in the title is that we can’t tell from these single images. However, we can be sure that the general differences highlighted are an indication of the food culture differences. We also know from the research on waste, that a significant fraction of the food (maybe a quarter) shown in the German home is probably wasted, while very little of that reaching the Chadian household is.

 

 

Tired of “One Third of All Food Produced is Lost or Wasted”

Its true that “One Third of All Food Produced is Lost or Wasted” but it does get a bit boring when we hear it over and over along with a means of reducing it which is simple and obvious. This is made worse by the fact that these means of reducing loss are often very daunting and require actions that you have little effect on.

click the image to visit the website

This CTA briefing paper does a good job of summarizing the various places and ways in which these losses can be addressed. It for example shows that consumers in upper income communities need to take care of their actions and reduce losses – something that's hard for the individual to impact on and where no progress is evident. But we should all keep enthusiastic about it and do whatever we can to reduce waste even if our little effort is not going to be significant on its own.

As a Food Processor, a way of looking at this and keeping up the enthusiasm is to see the other benefits of saving food, which are not always considered. Whatever you do to reduce losses in you plant doesn't only reduce losses of food it

  • Reduces agricultural input usage
  • Increases sustainability of you business
  • Saves you money, when the action required (as is often the case) does not require extra cost
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reduction in water and energy consumption

 

A Comprehensive Solar Drying Manual – Free Online Information

I happened onto this manual just now and it got me to thinking about solar drying again.

click the image to download the manual

The document was prepared as a training manual for a Zimbabwian project funded by the Austrian Embassy titled Establishment of a production, sales and consulting infrastructure for solar thermal plants in Zimbabwe.

Its a comprehensive manual covering many designs and processes which you will see in illustrations from other documents you have read over the years. The 110 page book contains descriptions of many different dryers as well as examples of many different crops and their dryers. It also presents a great deal of technical data on drying but even though the title of the project nothing about markets, packaging and selling.

Solar drying should be all the rage currently giving its potential to impact global food shortage and climate change – but we still seem to be where we were decades ago.

 

Reusing and Recycling Potatoe Waste

The recovery of food from Food Industry waste will become more and more attractive as food prices increase and per capita availability decreases.

In general technology is already available to recover value but the viability limits what is done. This is an interesting approach to improve viability by addressing the logistics of handling waste.

click image to visit the site

Projects like these improve the sustainability of the Food Industry.

THINK-EAT-SAVE Food Waste Enjoying Growing Attention

I have written on Food Waste now and then as it's clearly a part of the food supply system where the world can grow food availability using existing technology.

Now a UNEP/FAO lead campaign, supported by initiatives such as WRAP, has been launched.

click image to visit the site

Think-Eat-Save and the slogan “Reduce Your Foodprint” seem to indicate that it is focussed on the consumer, but the information on the site is not limited to the household. The initiative seems to be focussing on the complete food chain.

There is already a wealth of information here, presented in a very readable way, and there are indications of actions to promote awareness and action.

Think-Eat-Save rests on four pillars

Awareness raising on the impact of, and solutions for food loss and waste.

Collaboration and coordination of world-wide initiatives on food loss and waste reduction.

Policy, strategy and programme development for food loss and waste reduction.

Support to investment programmes and projects..

 

The Food Waste Opportunity

When the Institute of Mechanical Engineers publishes a report on solving the expected world food shortage by reducing loss, you begin to realise this is a very widely recognized problem or opportunity. I already published a paper on this titled Waste in the food value chain: Issues and opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa in 2011, which also highlighted the wasted inputs required to produce the wasted food.
Institute of Mechanical Engineers publishes a Report on Food Waste

from: IMECHE
(click image for full report online)

Most of the solutions are not to do with mechanization, automation or new devices. Cereals lost to poor storage in the third world environment need better management of existing systems and simple waterproofed structures. Losses in the first world retail system are more strongly linked to the need to change consumer behaviour, diet, obesity, visual standards, kitchen control, expiry dates etc than to research new technologies.

The report has some interesting data that bears repeating

  • Half the food that is grown in the world is lost and not eaten
  • 3 calories of energy are required to produce 1 calorie of food energy in the form of cereals
  • 30 calories of energy are required to produce 1 calorie of food energy in the form of bee
  • 50% of the energy input to wheat is required for fertilizer and pesticides
  • 70% of water use is by agriculture
  • Some thoughts after reading this: the food we do eat uses twice as much inputs than it would seem, the waste is mainly not on the field where it would could at least compost and fertilize but is increasingly in urban areas where it unnecessarily loads the waste disposal system.

     

    Soup Packet – Climate Change and Sustainability Improvements

    Something as humble as a soup powder packet can be reengineered to reduce its impact on the environment.

    from: FOODStuff SA
    (click image for full story online)

    click the image to visit the Foodstuff SA website

    What is interesting is the effort it takes and the focus on food quality that lies at the base of all decisions.

    The statement that the most important thing is that the customer can feel good about asking the right choices for the planet is debatable. It's might be important to consider the impact on product cost and the sustainability of the effort when considering where to focus attention.