Guide to Food Waste

Updated: Nov 22, 2019

Food is something we need for survival. However, Hong Kong's waste problem is a serious issue that we face. Every day, each person dumps about 1.27 kg of municipal solid waste. Food waste especially is a major component of this solid waste.

Currently, approximately 3,600 tonnes -- or the equivalent weight of 250 double-decker buses -- of food waste is landfilled in Hong Kong daily. Food waste represents 35% of municipal solid waste (MSW) in Hong Kong, with its two main sources coming from 1) households food waste, and 2) commercial and industrial (C&I) food waste, from restaurants, hotels and wet markets, representing 13,3% of total MSW.

“If Hong Kong continues in this way, we will reach breaking point by 2020,” says Chan King-ming, a professor at CUHK in the department of environmental science program.

It is imperative that this colossal amount of food waste be rescued and redistributed, which can benefit not just the low-income families who spend almost half their income on food, but the environment as well: According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), “globally, if food waste could be represented as its own country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter, behind China and the U.S.” This takes into account the gas emitted for the production, transport and decomposition of food in landfills and not just the last stage in the landfills. When food waste is buried in landfills, this releases methane because there is no oxygen, unlike in a compost. Thus, rotten food represents 34% of all methane emissions, methane gas known to be 20 times more damaging to the environment than CO2.

Food is an integral part of our daily lives, so why waste it?

Find out more this week on our website about what food waste is, how, and why it's important to minimize our waste, and the role the hospitality industry has in it.