How is food waste managed on campus?
Food waste comprises over a third of the total solid waste being dumped into Hong Kong’s already overflowing landfills. Even though it may not last as long as plastic or present the same immediate, tangible threat to the environment, it’s nonetheless a destructive habit with serious consequences.
As it decomposes, food waste releases huge amount of methane, a greenhouse gas 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Producing and transporting food are also energy-intensive processes that swallow up huge amounts of water and leave a massive carbon footprint. At HKU, the way we deal with food waste matters—not just as a community of over 30,000 people, but as a place where future leaders learn about the problems we face and develop value systems and concern that will inform the rest of their lives.
The University is taking positive steps to cut down on wastefulness, but how food waste is actually handled on campus currently depends on the caterer and where they do business.
Until the summer of 2018, food waste from canteens located at the Centennial Campus was collected by facility management staff and taken to our on-site composter, which treated nearly 100 kilograms of food waste daily and provided fertilizer for the University’s landscaping team. Unfortunately, the composter reached the end of its service life and is no longer being used.
Elsewhere on HKU campuses, as catering contracts come up for renewal, establishment are being required to deal with their food waste responsibly. Swire canteen, for example, sends their food waste to a firm that uses it to produce pig feed. The University is currently exploring a more comprehensive strategy to deal with food waste at all of our campus canteens.
It’s important to note that, although handling our food waste at HKU is an incredibly important task, we as a community must also do our part to reduce the amount of food we throw away. Learn about how we are working to reduce or food waste at source through food waste audits in campus canteens here.