Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
estimates that a third of all the food produced in the world is never consumed, totaling about 1.3 billion tons of waste a year. The United States alone wastes 40% of all food, worth an estimated $165 billion.
This waste decays in landfills and, without oxygen present, emits methane, which is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Consequently, food waste creates an overwhelming 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gases annually and US greenhouse gas emissions account for
19% of the worlds total emissions
, second only to China.
This alarming figure led UC
College of Engineering and Applied Science
(CEAS) researchers to investigate alternatives to landfilling organic wastes. In October 2013, environmental engineering colleagues from the
CEAS Department of Biomedical, Chemical, and Environmental Engineering
, Timothy C. Keener, PhD, and Drew C. McAvoy, PhDalong with fellow faculty members Pablo Campo-Moreno, PhD, San-Mou Jeng, PhD, and George Sorial, PhDproposed an innovative
Smart Cities Project
A Pilot Study to Produce Bioenergy and Fertilizer from UCs Food Waste.
The proposal to convert food waste into gaseous fuels, solid fuels, biodiesel and other products was accepted and today, the study flourishes under the direction of Keener and McAvoy. In October 2014, the team launched a pilot plant that has diverted 660 pounds of food waste generated from UC's Center Court Dining Center for research.