WELCOME TO ZERO FOOD WASTE
Committed to Composting
Hong Kong's daily food waste lies just above 3600 tons per day, which is about the same weight as 250 double-decker buses.
As a densely populated city of over 7 million people, it has become extremely difficult for the government to manage the city's waste including all the food waste from restaurants, households, and other sources. Food waste is a problem globally because it wastes money and contributes so much to global heating. In Hong Kong, there is an additional problem that waste goes to landfills and so anything we can do to reduce this is helpful. Anyway, what is the point of throwing out food or even food scraps? It seems absurd that people allow this to happen. It is clear that better ways have to be established to prevent this issue.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT COMPOSTING
Composting uses decomposing plants and food waste to form the foundation of fertilizer; All in all, it is a great way to recycle unusable organic materials for a greater purpose. Composting has become steadily popular in many cities but Hong Kong is an exception. Due to the busy working lives and limited space available in households, people struggle to compost and think of it as a ‘hassle.’
STORY OF COMPOSTING EXPERIMENTS
I have embarked on 2 experiments so far. One being the home composting project and the other as a compost scale test to see first hand how healthy and efficient compost really is.
The home composting experiment:
My home composting experiment was split into two parts. One as the weighing of food waste per day for one week without composting, and the other as composting the food waste for two weeks. The project stretched over 3 weeks and assessed the reduction of food waste after composting. This experiment was also one to allow myself to gain experience about composting and understand the challenges and difficulties of composting in Hong Kong.
Using the compost experiment:
The second experiment I participated in was one where I would test the compost created from the home composting experiment. I set up three plant pots each with a set of 3 pea seedlings. One pot held pure garden soil purchased from an outside source, another pot used a 50/50 split of home compost and garden soil and the final pot fully used compost. The growth of these plants was then tracked over the course of several months to determine how effective the compost is compared to garden soil.
WHY IS IT GOOD
Composting is great for two reasons. One is that it instils better habits, and two being that it reduces the burden on the environment. Recycling has been re-discovered by city populations for +40 years now and it has created a large change to the belief of not wasting something that could potentially be used. Composting is a form of recycling that when used by many, will cause a significant increase in the efficiency of food use and a significant decrease in the waste that needs to be managed. Hong Kong households lack this key aspect; people think their own small amount of food waste will not make a difference but in fact, if many households begin to compost even at this small scale, then collectively they will have a huge impact.
Composting also reduces the stress on the wider ecosystem and allows areas to be restored to equilibrium. This is through reducing the size of landfills and increasing the spread of new compost across the city as it is used in plant pots, balconies, gardens and organic farms everywhere.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND COMPOSTING
Composting is a great way to annihilate the heavy impacts of food waste as it completely repurposes the discarded scraps and naturally creates something that can benefit ecosystems. During composting, microorganisms consume oxygen while also fertilising organic matter. The carbon dioxide and water losses can result in the decomposition and loss of weight from the initial organic materials. For this reason, composting volume and mass while transforming the disposed goods into an eco-friendly and healthy manure. Composting is most efficient when oxygen, moisture and temperature are all properly managed. For more info on composting: https://www.olus.co.uk/Basic-Science-of-Composting
WHAT YOU CAN DO
In order to be a part of this project and support the cause, you can participate in new procedures that will sprout from this project. It is planned that compost bins will be placed in housing estates. People will then put their food scraps in the bin and they will be collected after a short period of time and delivered to a composting facility. This convenience will ensure that people are not burdened by this task, nor are they spending extra effort. This procedure is perfect as it reduces the hassle of composting yourself.
My idea sprouted when I joined the Young Changemaker Incubator (YCI) program in Hong Kong. YCI Aims to educate youth about the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and inspire them to undertake projects that help further one of the 17 development goals in Hong Kong and beyond. All of it seemed so relevant and yet so distant to me, and I couldn't figure out what to do. Then, one day, seeing mountains of food rubbish piled up in an alley behind a bunch of local restaurants, it struck me - what else can we do with all of this food waste that otherwise ends up in landfills? How can we throw all of this out when there are hungry people in our city and gardens to fertilize? Thinking about this over and over again in my head, I realized SDG 12 - responsible production and consumption was the one for me!
Who We Are
My name is Alfred Francis, born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. As I grew up, I was never inclined to care about the environment, nor did I pay much attention to what was happening around me. It all changed as I relocated to China and soon after Hong Kong where I first-hand witnessed the troubling reality of a polluted the world.
In Hong Kong, I have developed a heightened sense of awareness for things around me and have desired to pursue this project to try and change Hong Kong in a small way. After seeing the poorly maintained landfills around waste areas of Hong Kong, and people around me paying no attention to food waste, I knew I had to try and change something.