SOUTH AFRICA – The Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment in South Africa is set to introduce a comprehensive national strategy to combat food loss and waste in 2024.
Brian Küsel, Director of BiobiN South Africa, an alternative waste treatment company, anticipates the culmination of the strategy following the public comment period on the Draft Strategy for Reducing Food Losses and Waste, published in September 2023.
Küsel emphasized that businesses, particularly those generating substantial food waste, will need to adapt and implement alternative waste treatment methods such as composting.
Stringent waste regulations, including extended producer responsibility regulations and waste classification regulations, have been enacted in recent years to divert more waste from landfills and enhance recycling rates.
South Africa currently faces an annual generation of approximately 12.6 million tonnes of food loss and waste within the food and organic waste stream.
Notably, 68% of this waste occurs during the early stages of production, with 19% in post-harvest handling and storage and 49% during processing and packaging.
Vegetables and fruits contribute to 44% of the wasted food, followed by grains at 26%, and meat at 15%, with the remaining 13% comprising oilseeds, tubers, and roots.
The Western Cape has already set ambitious targets to eliminate organic waste from landfills entirely by 2027, and it is anticipated that the national strategy will propose similar objectives.
Küsel suggested that the food production sector will need to undergo significant changes along the supply chain to achieve these targets.
The proposed Draft Strategy for Reducing Food Losses and Waste outlines four strategic goals, including creating an enabling environment for strategy implementation, promoting food losses and waste beneficiation and circular economy, capacity building, education, and awareness training, and focusing on food waste diversion and greenhouse gas emission reduction.
Küsel encouraged businesses to proactively manage their food and organic waste, suggesting the implementation of on-site organic waste management solutions, particularly in-vessel composting units known for their cleanliness and high efficiency.
As the new strategy takes shape, it is expected to introduce more stringent organic waste regulations, placing increased responsibility on businesses in the sector.
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