Fri, Oct 12, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Food waste need not be kept out of animal feed

By Chen Wen-ching 陳文卿

Fearing that pig farms in Taiwan could see outbreaks of African swine fever, the Council of Agriculture plans to ban the use of kitchen waste in pig feed, which has pig farmers fearing that their feed costs will increase.

About 70 percent of kitchen waste collected in Taiwan is reused and one of the channels is as pig feed. If this channel is cut off, it will affect the options for eliminating kitchen waste.

Several biomass energy power plants are under construction, but existing compost plants do not have sufficient capacity to handle all the available organic waste.

This means that some kitchen waste will have to be incinerated. That would be a setback for plans to build a circular economy, which aims to eliminate waste and create maximum value from minimal resources.

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) has for many years promoted the collection and reuse of kitchen waste. When it is used as animal feed, the target sector is livestock farming, which the council oversees.

To keep feed costs down, nearly 10 percent of Iberian pigs in Taiwan are fed on kitchen waste instead of commercial animal feed. This system has been in place for a long time.

If the EPA did not encourage the collection and reuse of kitchen waste, farmers or their suppliers would still collect kitchen waste directly from restaurants. If not properly managed, the collection and transport would be less hygienic and each farmer would treat the leftovers in their own way, possibly giving rise to more serious problems.

The role of environmental protection authorities is to help agricultural authorities manage this business and ensure that it is done properly.

The EPA’s Regulations for the Management of Collection and Reuse of Kitchen Waste (廚餘回收再利用管理辦法) require that pig farmers who collect kitchen waste for reuse register with environmental protection authorities.

They must declare how many pigs they have and how much kitchen waste they reuse, and they must have high-temperature steaming or boiling equipment. Pig farms must have wastewater treatment equipment and they must maintain the cleanliness of the machines and vehicles that they use to collect and transport kitchen waste.

Research published in other countries shows that the germs that cause diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease and African swine fever cannot survive in temperatures of more than 90°C, so there should be no worries about kitchen waste spreading diseases if it is steamed or boiled.

Ideally, all kitchen waste and food byproducts that are destined for use as animal feed should be collected through a unified system that includes well-functioning drying and processing equipment. The finished product can then be supplied to animal feed businesses to reprocess into fodder.

This feed could provide an alternative to commercial feeds made from ingredients that could also be used for human consumption, thus reducing competition for the same food between animals and humans.

Repurposing kitchen waste as animal feed optimizes supply and demand. Its combined economic and environmental advantages make it worthy of serious consideration.

Chen Wen-ching is president of the Environment and Development Foundation.

Translated by Julian Clegg

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