Let’s begin with the theme of WED-2013, as derived from UNEP Site.
The theme for this year’s World Environment Day celebrations is Think.Eat.Save. Think.Eat.Save is an anti-food waste and food loss campaign that encourages you to reduce your foodprint. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), every year 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted. This is equivalent to the same amount produced in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, 1 in every 7 people in the world go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of 5 die daily from hunger.
While the planet is struggling to provide us with enough resources to sustain its 7 billion people (growing to 9 billion by 2050), FAO estimates that a third of global food production is either wasted or lost. Food waste is an enormous drain on natural resources and a contributor to negative environmental impacts.
If food is wasted, it means that all the resources and inputs used in the production of all the food are also lost. For example, it takes about 1,000 litres of water to produce 1 litre of milk and about 16,000 litres goes into a cow’s food to make a hamburger. The resulting greenhouse gas emissions from the cows themselves, and throughout the food supply chain, all end up in vain when we waste food.
In fact, the global food production occupies 25% of all habitable land and is responsible for 70% of fresh water consumption, 80% of deforestation, and 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. It is the largest single driver of biodiversity loss and land-use change……
Okey, so what can we do ? Here‘s what we can :
Think next time you shop about how much food you actually need and don’t buy more than that; also think about where your food comes from and how it was produced – and if you don’t know, ask your retailer or restaurateur. Remember that every time you waste food, you are also wasting a host of valuable resources that went into producing and transporting that food.
Eat and support foods that are grown organically and locally – and if you can, grow your own. Eat to live, don’t live to eat – overconsumption is also wasteful. Remain aware that while many people suffer from obesity, millions also suffer and die from hunger and starvation.
Save food rather than throwing it away to be wasted. Saving food can be as simple as storing it correctly so it can be eaten at a later stage, giving it to someone who is hungry, composting rotten foods or donating to local food banks, soup kitchens or farms that require foods for compost.
So how does the Biomass Energy come in the picture ?
While reducing the food wastage is the first step in feeding the hungry population in the world, this alone is not enough. With already so many people going to bed hungry and many dying because of starvation, plus the ever increasing population, we gotta grow more and more than more. The production of crops must increase proportionally with the population, if every individual in the world is to get enough food and proper nutrition.
This means billions of tons of straw will be produced and the amount will keep increasing along with the growing crop yield. Ghaly et al reported that wheat crop alone yields over 750 million ton of straw of which 60-80 % can be utilized for energy through energy conversion processes like pyrolysis, combustion and gassification.
While the biomass energy is still in the phase of development and big commercial usage are yet to be realized, this technology is promising as well as necessary, not just to produce renewable energy but also for proper and better management and utilization of those billion tons of straw, the world produces every year.