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2017.02.2
Transforming Our Food Waste into Resources

Food waste in Hong Kong accounts for more than one-third of municipal solid waste. Over 3,640 tonnes of food are sent to the landfills every day (that's the volume of 250 double decker buses). The government hopes to cut waste by 40% by 2022, and reducing food waste will obviously need to be a huge part of the effort. What can we do as students and staff at HKUST?

Our campus produces around 7 tonnes of waste every day. Our audit data suggests that around 4 tonnes is food waste (with around 2.4 tonnes coming from our canteens). To address this, in September 2016 our Campus Service Office appointed South China Reborn Resources (Zhongshan) Company Limited to collect food waste from our canteens every day and bring it to their facility in the Tuen Mun Eco Park to transform it into high-nutrient fish food pellets. Collected food waste is sterilized and combined with protein to boost protein levels and create a yummy and nutritious food for fish.

The HKUST food waste recycling program now generates around 20,000 kg of food waste every month from our canteens. After meals, catering staff collect plates and scrape off the food waste into separate bins and then take the bins to several collection points on campus. The contractor arrives late at night, loads up the full bins and drops off a new set of cleaned and washed bins so the cycle can start over again the next day.    

Expanding the program, we are now piloting food collection in office pantries for food leftovers from lunch and breakfast. Three offices, Health, Safety and Environment Office, Publishing Technology Center and Finance Office are taking the leading role to engage their staff to reduce food waste at source and recycle leftovers like fruit peels, tea bags, coffee grounds and other food remains. Sealed collection boxes are placed in the office pantries and cleared by the cleaning staff for disposal in campus collection points. If the program goes well, we look forward to expanding the program to other offices in the coming year. Let us know if your office wants to be part of the program! 

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Food waste was transformed into high-nutrient fish food pellets
Food waste collection in office pantry
Food waste collection bin in LG7 refuse chamber