Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Waste Not

Credit: SCMP

First it was the quote by Caribbean Chan Miu-yu, CEO of Food Angel, and then it was the story in the City section of 15 July’s SCMP that again alarmed me on the sheer amount of food waste Hong Kongers produce on a daily basis. According to Caribbean Chan, Hong Kong records around 3,600 tonnes of food waste every day but food rescue and assistance programme Food Angel can only rescue four tonnes max a day.

With the organic waste treatment facilities’ construction planned, with an expected capacity to treat 200 tonnes of food waste a day by 2016, recycling source-separated organic waste generated from the commercial and industrial sectors (mostly food waste) into useful products, we can only hope that this will truly be effective in lessening the stress on the city’s existing landfills, and turning Hong Kongers’ wasteful consumption habit into something useful. But let’s not forget, the most efficient way to combat food waste is always prevention and reduction at source.

But until then, we have NGOs and non-profits the likes of Food Angle and Feeding Hong Kong to thank, for collecting and redistributing surplus food to the people and organisations in need. Food Angel, for instance, collects raw ingredients from suppliers, supermarkets and wet markets, and prepares them into meals. It is currently providing 6,000 meals a day to low-income families with young children and homeless people, a huge jump from 30 meals a day when it was launched in 2011. With just a smidgen of our daily food waste sufficient to serve 6,000 meals, it goes on to show just how much food we dump into the landfills – good-quality food that is perfectly fine to eat. What it also shows is the failure of the government’s FoodWise campaign in an attempt to educate the public on purchasing less food.  

Discrediting the government’s effort is not my intention here, for we do need to be reminded, constantly, against food waste. But what Hong Kong lacks, compared to other more conservation-conscious countries, is conservation education that is actually included in the mainstream curriculum. Children need to be educated on the environmental impact their consumption habits have on this planet for them to grow into responsible, conscientious adults that would think twice before buying plastic bottled water, or leaving food uneaten. It may be a good idea too to let your children have a grasp of the hard work that goes into growing food, and Green Queen does a list of organic farms in Hong Kong from which you can choose from. 

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