"With several key facts, we are able to quickly establish the scale of the impact Suez has had with regard to the food-waste situation. A fantastic well-thought-out article."
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According to the UN, "Roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year - approximately 1.3 billion tonnes - gets lost or wasted [along with the supply and consumption chain]"1. Downstream and without any particular scheme in place, food waste ends up in landfills, where it not only releases powerful GHG mix, equivalent to 8% global emission3 but also wastes the opportunity to be used as a resource2.
Indeed, when properly handled via composting, organic waste yields a significant amount of energy and soil fertilizer, usable for agriculture. Beyond being routinely run at private homes and farms, composting can become industrial through various processes4, thus changing its impact scale.
Suez offers turn-key food waste treatment facilities that divert it from landfill and extract its potential energy and residual useful organic material. The process is named "anaerobic digestion" and consists of "using bacteria in the absence of oxygen to break down matter to create biogas"9. Generated CH4 is then directly turned into energy via combustion, while solid residue becomes nitrogen/phosphorus/potassium-rich fertilizer6, directly supplied for landscaping and agricultural applications. Its use closes the biological loop and avoids the use of synthetic fertilizers.
In 2019, Suez thus collected and composted 1.73 M tonnes of organic material in their 104 facilities globally, diverting around 0.13% of the 1.3 billion tonnes estimated global food waste and produced 0.9 M tonnes compost5;p57, equivalent to 0.5% of the 200 M tonnes synthetic fertilizer produced (2014 data)7. To further increase their impact, Suez partnered with Avril into Terrial "to form a leader on the organic fertiliser and soil conditioner market in France"8, a major agricultural nation10.
Thanks to such innovative industrials technologies, Suez both mitigate the negative impact of unmanaged food waste and contribute to the food circular economy.