Food waste is a significant challenge facing South African companies, with serious economic, environmental and social implications.
Not only does food waste result in the loss of scarce and valuable resources, but it also exacerbates the issue of food insecurity, which is a major concern in the country.
According to a report by the WWF South Africa, an estimated 10 million tons of food is wasted in South Africa each year. This is equivalent to 30% of the country’s total food production.
Moreover, the emissions associated with wasted food are estimated to be equivalent to the emissions from 2.5 million cars on the road.
Another report by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries estimates that around 60% of the waste generated in South Africa is organic waste, with food waste contributing about one-third of this.
In order to remain competitive and sustainable, it’s essential for South African companies to manage food waste effectively.
Failing to do this can have a significant impact on their bottom line. This is particularly the case for those companies operating in the food and beverage sector, which is characterised by high input costs and thin profit margins.
Legislative framework for managing food waste
For South African companies, the National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS) provides a framework for managing food waste and aligning with the government’s waste management strategy.
The strategy outlines a number of key actions that companies can take to reduce food wastage, including implementing waste reduction programs, conducting waste audits, and engaging with stakeholders to promote waste reduction and recycling.
By supporting the NWMS, companies can demonstrate their commitment to sustainable practices and contribute to the achievement of national waste reduction targets.
But they can’t do this alone. They need to outsource their non-core activities to private waste management companies such as Oricol Environmental Services to help them manage their environmental footprint.
By aligning with the government’s overall waste management strategy, Oricol works with its customers to implement waste reduction programs, provide waste audits, and promote waste reduction and recycling.
In 2022, Oricol diverted 78% of all waste from landfill. The company diverted 116 999 tons of waste from landfills last year. That’s equivalent to the weight of 9 749 double-decker buses.
By planning for future changes in legislation in accordance with the principles of the waste hierarchy and the food waste hierarchy, Oricol ensures its services are designed to meet and exceed these national waste reduction targets.
Food waste hierarchy: alignment and innovation
With its strong focus on innovation, Oricol continues to play a crucial role in developing advanced solutions for companies to manage their food waste better.
These advancements help the company contribute to the development of a circular economy, where waste is seen as a resource and not a burden. It is for this reason that Oricol’s slogan is Turning Waste Into A Resource®.
One way Oricol helps companies manage their waste is by converting wet and dry food waste products into raw products used in animal feed that is milled to a coarse crumb-like state and sold to commercial livestock agribusinesses as a cost-effective, environmentally feed supplement.
In addition, Oricol’s services such as collection and composting for commercial and industrial clients help businesses reduce their waste and comply with waste management regulations while providing a sustainable alternative to landfill disposal.
Oricol’s business activities are underpinned by the principles of the waste hierarchy and the food waste hierarchy.
The waste hierarchy is an important tool for promoting sustainable waste management practices. It encourages a focus on waste prevention and reduction and promotes the recovery and reuse of resources whenever possible.
The food waste hierarchy is also important for the circular economy. It promotes a more sustainable and resource-efficient approach to food production and consumption.
By prioritising prevention and minimisation, the waste hierarchy encourages businesses and consumers to use resources more efficiently, reduce waste generation, and create value from waste streams.
One of the key pillars of the NWMS is the establishment of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes.
By shifting the responsibility for waste management onto producers, EPR schemes can encourage sustainable production practices, improve the efficiency of waste management systems, create new economic opportunities, and reduce the environmental and social impacts of waste disposal.
In South Africa, however, there are currently no EPR schemes specifically focused on food waste management.
But there are initiatives that aim to address the issue through other means.
For example, a government strategy was launched in 2019 to reduce food waste throughout the food supply chain.
This strategy focuses on education, awareness-raising, and measures to improve food storage, processing, and distribution.
Focused customer solutions
One of the major contributors to food waste generation in South Africa is the hospitality industry. And as such, it has a significant role to play in reducing the amount of wasted food and building a more sustainable food system.
By implementing a range of measures to prevent, minimise, and manage food waste, hospitality businesses can reduce their environmental impact, save money, and contribute to food security in their communities.
One of the most effective ways to manage food waste is to partner with a private company such as Oricol. This will ensure their waste is collected or managed on-site to ensure it is diverted from landfill.
Oricol will also train hospitality industry staff on prevention, management and implement measures to monitor and track food waste.
As a leading waste management company in South Africa, Oricol offers a range of services to help customers reduce their environmental impact.
Here are some ways Oricol can help:
- Waste audits and assessments: Oricol can conduct waste audits and assessments to help customers identify sources of waste and develop strategies to reduce it. These assessments can include a review of the customer’s waste streams, as well as an analysis of their waste management practices.
- Food waste collection and transport: Oricol offers collection and transport services for food waste, using specialised vehicles and equipment to ensure safe and hygienic handling.
- Composting and organic waste management: Oricol partners with composting sites and biogas plants that can process food waste and other organic waste streams. The company can assist customers in diverting their waste to these facilities for composting.
- Training and education: Oricol can provide training and education programs to help customers understand the importance of food waste reduction and develop strategies to minimise waste. These programs can include employee training, as well as educational materials such as posters and signage.
- Reporting and analytics: Oricol offers reporting and analytics tools to help customers track their waste management performance. These tools can provide insights into waste generation, diversion rates, and other key metrics, allowing customers to identify areas for improvement and track progress over time.
By aligning with the government’s NWMS and constantly developing new and innovative ways of turning waste into a resource, Oricol can help customers develop a comprehensive approach to food waste management that promotes sustainability and resource efficiency.
As founder Richard Sanders says: “We are driven by a desire to recycle and turn waste into a resource. It’s part of our culture.”
- Contact us for more information on formulating a food waste management solution for your business
- This article was first published in the Sustainability Handbook, Edition 06 March 2023