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Americans Are Believed To Throw Away One-Third of The Available Food. How Then Are They Dealing With It? Read On To Know What Is Happening at The Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant

If an increasing number of people subscribe to the Reduce, Reuse and Recycle way of life, a lot of the world's problem of waste generation will be solved. Read in to know what America is already doing!

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  • One-third of the world’s food is lost or wasted
  • Treatment plants are now using food waste to convert energy
  • The move also cuts on emission of harmful gasses into the atmosphere

Brooklyn, August 7, 2017 : Americans are believed to throw away about one-third of the available food. However, what we see as trash is also seen as a business opportunity by a few. A facility known as the New Town Creek waste Water Treatment plant is using wasted food from Brooklyn and turning it into electricity, completely justifying the concept of the 3-C’s we have all studied about in school.

If an increasing number of people around the world subscribe to the Reduce, Reuse and Recycle way of life, a lot of the world’s problem of waste generation will be addressed, and eventually solved.

But presently, the concept seems too vague and utopian. So what are we doing right about NOW?

Mechanisms have been developed to convert all the waste produced into clean energy and some other usable product. Now if you ask me how that is contributing to a better society, I’d like to tell you that heaps and mountain-full of landfills are slowly becoming a thing of the past. And in the longer run, the practice is also going to reduce enormous amounts of greenhouse gas emission.

For a number of years now, New York’s fourteen waste-water treatment plants have been processing the city’s raw sewage into clean water, fertilizers and methane, which forms the main component of natural gas. Eventually, New York authorities realized that huge amounts of other organic wastes sent to landfills can also be converted to energy.

Pam Elarado of the New York Bureau of Waste Water Treatment told VOA news that the food waste is similar to the sewage generated at a waste-water treatment plant.

For the same purpose, in the eight egg-shaped digesters at the New Town Creek Waste Water Treatment plant, the bacteria slowly break down the so called bio-slurry into a more stable material, useful in the gas.

Newtown Creek Waste Water plant, operational since 2010, is the largest sewage treatment facility operated by the New York City Department of environmental protection.

The plant is instilled with digester eggs that convert food waste into methane gas.
The Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, as seen from atop the Pulaski Bridge, Brooklyn. Wikimedia

The plant overlooks conversion of organic waste from kitchens, homes, hotels, and food-factories into cleaner energy and compost.

Frank Lonear told VOA news that the tank currently is capable of holding about three million gallons of a combination of bio-sewage which comes from waste-water and also food waste. “It sits here on an average of about 30 days for the bacteria to break it down to create methane gas”, he said.

The plant currently is capable of processing about 60 tonnes of food waste daily but plans to increase the capacity to 250 tonnes. The daily production of methane is about 85,000 cubic meters which needs additional treatment to be turned into natural gas.

If all the food waste being processed at the plant was instead just dumped at a landfill, it still would have provided methane in the process of rotting and decomposition. However in such a condition, all the released gas would have sparked directly into the atmosphere thus, contributing to climate change. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, after all

In such a scenario, this practice of anaerobic conversion is diverting food waste from landfills, cutting down on harmful emissions and also creating a few jobs.

According to reports, New York embraced the practice of food-waste conversion very quickly. Sarah Schiwal, a resident of Brooklyn swears by the practice and said, “It is so simple and it cuts down on our trash. I can’t understand by anybody wouldn’t want it”, as told to VOA news.

ALSO READ: Wasting Food is like being “Carbon Criminal,” Campaigns to be Initiated soon against it, says Environment Minister of India

If you’re wondering that the plant contributes only scientifically to the city, then you’re mistaken. The egg shaped digesters are illuminated at night time and provide a rather aesthetic and pleasing cityscape along the Brooklyn waterfront.

Newtown creek wastewater digestive plant in among the largest such plants in New York.
Anaerobic conversion takes place in huge egg-shaped digesters that are also illuminated at night to beautify the surrounding areas (representational image). Pixabay

While it cannot be denied that these plants are solving a great deal of the problem, the fact remains that the root cause of the problem is still not being addressed. Consumers continue to throw away a staggering amount of food, which needs to be taken into account and kept under check.

At present, wastage from food makes up the largest share of the constitution of landfills and Americans are believed to throw away about one-third of the available food. While on one hand it is important to devise ways to prevent food waste, it is also important to keep the food from being wasted. Keeping the waste out of landfills and producing clean energy in its place can go a long way for mankind to reduce our carbon footprint and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.


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India along with others moving towards centre stage of clean energy transition: Clean-energy leadership begins in China

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Solar panels absorbing sunlight. Pixabay

China, May 30, 2017: There is a new reality in clean energy. The world’s major emerging economies — including China, India, and several others — are moving to the centre stage of the clean energy transition. By betting heavily on energy efficiency, on wind, solar and other renewables, as well as other less carbon-intensive technologies, these countries are increasingly leading the way.

This is the significance of the top-level meeting of energy ministers from the world’s biggest economies in Beijing next month. The fact that representatives from fossil-fuel producers like Mexico and Saudi Arabia will join renewable-energy pioneers like Denmark and Germany for a top-level meeting in China is not a coincidence. We are witnessing a global consensus that the key to energy transition will reside with decisions made in emerging economies.

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There are many reasons to stand for clean energy today. These can range from reducing greenhouse gas emissions but also battling the scourge of air pollution, improving energy security by reducing the dependency on fossil fuels, diversifying supply, creating high-tech jobs or fostering innovation. As such, approaches to clean energy will vary from country to country.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), all of the projected growth in energy demand in the next 25 years will take place in emerging and developing countries. This means that implementing the right kind of policies and technologies will be critical to ensure stable supplies as well as meeting desirable environmental outcomes.

The good news is that this is happening. India was the first country to set comprehensive quality and performance standards for light emitting diodes (LEDs), and it expects to save as much as 277 terawatt-hours of electricity between 2015 and 2030, avoiding 254 million metric tons of CO2 emissions or the equivalent of 90 coal-fired power plants.

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Another upshot is that by committing to these new clean technologies, countries like China are helping drive down costs for the benefit of the world. China is now the undisputable global leader of renewable energy expansion worldwide, and the IEA forecasts that by 2021, more than one-third of global cumulative solar PV and onshore wind capacity will be located in China.

Recently announced renewable projects have broken new records, with power purchase agreements for several onshore wind and large solar PV farms now below $50/MWh.

As clean energy is increasingly driven by the emerging economies, global political leadership in advancing clean energy will be increasingly shared. This is precisely the function of the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM), which was created in 2010, and whose goal is to form a partnership that brings together major industrialised and emerging economies to focus on clean energy technologies and policies, reduce environmental impacts, and ensure reliable and affordable supplies.

Our timing is critical. Action by the 25 CEM members, representing 90 per cent of global energy investment and 75 per cent of global emissions, is crucial for making the world less carbon-intensive than today.

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In Beijing, our focus will be to provide a collaborative environment to tackle these challenges in areas ranging from transportation, buildings to the power sector. Our governments will seek to increase electric mobility, with a target to reach 30 per cent of the new vehicle fleet by 2030. The recent announcements of the Indian government will go a long way towards this end. Another challenge for CEM governments will be to increase EV charging providers by a factor of 10 in the next five years. Other priority areas include improving efficiency in buildings, which account for nearly a third of all energy consumption and 20 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.

In the power sector, the CEM is seeking to move away from the coal-or-renewables paradigm. Coal was the fuel of the last 100 years, and renewables will likely be the dominant fuel of the next century for many countries. At the same time, we must recognise that so-called dispatchable power plants — including thermal generation — are key for many countries to ensure energy security during the transition to a cleaner energy system. And so, the Beijing meeting will launch new work to address this challenge.

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To succeed, this energy transition will require the full backing of industry. This is why the CEM includes top-level executives from companies involved in all aspects of the energy field who offer a unique on-the-ground perspective and ultimately determine where investments end up going. They are often the first to recognise what drives clean energy uptake.

This is a unique time for the CEM, which is entering a new phase of cooperation and growth in our short history. The world of energy is changing. Facts on the ground unequivocally point to the key role of emerging economies in clean energy. Come the meeting in Beijing June 6-8, we are likely to see this reflected in the leadership of the CEM. (IANS)

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How Festival Trash is affecting Cities in India? Here is what Environmentalists have to say!

During Durga Puja and Ganesh Chaturthi, around 100,000 idols are immersed in the water bodies resulting in the release of substances like Plaster of Paris (PoP), lead, etc

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Lake polluted after Ganesh Chaturthi. Wikimedia Commons

October 07, 2016: Indian festivals have always been an integral part of our culture. They help us stay connected to our tradition. Every year, festivals like Diwali, Holi, etc. are celebrated with sumptuousness. People spend thousands of rupees on crackers, colours and lights to celebrate the festival of spreading light and leaving the dark behind but what they also do is, leave behind is a massive pile of garbage!

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According to a report by Delhi Government, levels of pollutants like Sulphur dioxide (SO2) and Nitrogen dioxide(NO2) are rising at an alarming rate. Last year, Vikrant Tongad, an environmentalist working with the Delhi-based Social Action for Forest and Environment told IANS, “the rise in pollution levels after Diwali has been going up three-to-four times the normal levels. But it’s alarming to see the rise even before Diwali.”

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After Diwali, the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), an agency under Ministry of Earth Sciences, declared the air quality in the capital “severe”, a category used to describe the highest level of pollution. The next day is not any better. The remains of all the crackers are strewn across the parks and streets.

The story is same during other festivals as well. The colours used to play Holi are made from substances like acids, mica, glass powder and alkalis which are responsible for skin complications and allergies. These chemicals get absorbed into the soil. Also, water containing these chemicals cannot be treated in a conventional way.

During Durga Puja and Ganesh Chaturthi, around 100,000 idols are immersed in the water bodies resulting in the release of substances like Plaster of Paris (PoP), lead, etc. Also, people leave behind flowers, food, etc. on the immersing site. The TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) in increased by 100%and the heavy metal content is increased by 200 to 300%.

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During Eid, many people perform the sacrifice ritual at communal places which are left unclean. Also, the increase in affordability has increased the amount of food wasted during these festivals.

Through the past decade, government and NGO’s have been trying to raise awareness among people through campaigns and advertisements but every year the level of pollution during these festivals breaks the previous records. It seems like Festival and trash have become synonymous.

Everyone knows the solution but for some reason refuse to act upon them. Well, if this continues, soon there will be a time where we will not be able to move out of their houses without wearing a pollution mask.

 by Diksha Arya of NewsGram. Twitter: @diksha_arya53

2 responses to “How Festival Trash is affecting Cities in India? Here is what Environmentalists have to say!”

  1. No religion wants to live in a pollution. People where they are focusing on maintaining their tradition parallel to that they should also focus on Garbage issue which is very frequent after every festival in India. Whether we see our temples, mosques or any spiritual place they are clean or maintained properly. So why to scatter garbage here and there after festivals who have spitural essence. This is a high time people have to aware regarding this issue. If they will not listen the call of mother nature then, she knows how to maintain her. (Global warming, floods, droughts etc are some examples)…… All need to awake from deep ignorance.

  2. every festival india leads to pollution. especially diwali. wish people get smart and stop polluting the country and call it celebration. Not saying stop fireworks just saying limit it. instead of going crazy all night. a few minutes is good enough. and its also so unsafe. people are allowed to do fireworks anywhere. on streets. houses. etc. where others are disturbed and at risk of being attacking by one of these crackers. its just common sense be smart people

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Food wastage in developed countries inexcusable: India

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United Nations: In a world grappling with the hunger of millions, it was “inexcusable” that consumers in developed countries waste as much food as all of Sub-Saharan Africa produces every year, India said here on Monday.

Speaking at a session of a General Assembly committee dealing with economic matters, Supriya Sule said over 100 kg of food is wasted every year for each person in the developed countries.

“It is indeed a travesty that the world today produces enough food to feed the global population and yet millions of poor go hungry every day,” she said citing Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) figures.

“This happens because over one-third of all food produced — as much as 1.3 billion tonnes — is wasted every year.”

Sule blamed “unsustainable and wasteful consumption patterns” for the “colossal wastage” that is “inexcusable”.

“It is important to focus greater efforts at awareness creation and attitudinal change in the developed world which will enable us to save huge amounts of food,” she added at the discussion on “Agriculture Development, Food Security and Nutrition”.

Sule, a Nationalist Congress Party member of the Lok Sabha representing Barmati in Maharashtra, is currently among parliamentarians in India’s UN delegation.

Turning to the problem in developing countries, she said there was an “unacceptably high level of post-harvest losses”.

This was due to poor infrastructure and lack of advanced technologies for production, processing and transportation, she said.

“This problem needs to be addressed by means of enhanced investments in rural infrastructure and transportation and storage facilities as well as better access to and deployment of technologies,” Sule said.

Sule, whose Barmati constituency is a major farming area, paid tributes to farmers.

“It is a matter of pride for us that Indian agriculture has achieved self-sufficiency,” she said.

“Today it is not only able to meet the needs of India’s population but is also playing a major role in agricultural trade.”

Referring to the UN’s declaration of 2015 as the International Year of Soils, she said: “In India, a new ambitious scheme has been launched to provide Soil Health Cards to all farmers in the country in a time-bound manner.”

Under the programme launched in February, more than 140 million farms will have their soils tested and issued Soil Health cards detailing the fertiliser and nutrient requirements for productivity and preservation.

More directly for combating hunger and malnutrition, Sule said the National Food Security Act, which seeks to ensure access to quality food at affordable prices, “has already started showing positive results in combating hunger and malnutrition”.

(IANS)