Monday 12th August 2013
Did you know that a third of all waste in secondary schools is food waste, and in primary schools, at 46 per cent, food is the largest fraction of all waste?
Many schools are working to achive Eco-School status, part of an international programme to raise students’ awareness of sustainable development issuesthough classroom study and community action. Making sure food waste is managed properly is a really important part of any school's environmental action plan.
One school which has got behind environmental best practice is University College School (UCS) in Hampstead which has 1,100 pupils aged 3 -18. All the food at UCS is freshly prepared every day in the school kitchens by The Brookwood Partnership. Brookwood is a specialist caterer to the education sector, so they know a thing or two about what children want! As part of its Planet Matters Programme, Brookwood has introduced ‘Eco Eating’ at UCS, which is where all food waste is diverted from landfill; but it's not just the diversion from landfill which is important here, it's sending it to Anaerobic Digestion (AD.)
Eco Eating is the food waste collection scheme from Cawleys waste management, a ‘hall mark scheme’ which ensures that the best possible standard of food waste management is used. Cawleys is a pioneer in commercial food waste management, and helped Waitrose become the first retailer in the country to send its food waste to AD. Now Eco-Eating is available across the country and Brookwood has made it a central part of its Planet Matters Programme.
AD is a process which captures all the goodness in the food, turning it into a liquid digestate for fields, and also captures the biogas which is produced in the process.
School children who are keen on science enjoy learning about AD, as it’s a clever process which works rather like a cow’s stomach, where the food is broken down through biological action, in a sealed container. Instead of food waste rotting in landfill where it gives off methane which is twenty times more powerful as a green house gas than carbon dioxide, the bio gas which is released through the biological action of AD is captured and used to generate electricty. The liquid digestate which is the final product from the sealed AD container is an excellent soil conditioner and fertiliser, so the whole process contributes to a positive circle of food growing and eating.
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