Food waste contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, landfill pollution, and global food security issues. Addressing this is vital for sustainability, repurposing it as biofertiliser offers environmental and agricultural benefits.
///

Blossoming sustainability: Food waste as biofertiliser for ornamental gardens

Food waste contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, landfill pollution, and global food security issues. Addressing this is vital for sustainability, repurposing it as biofertiliser offers environmental and agricultural benefits.

Food waste significantly contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and landfill pollution. As organic waste, such as food scraps, decomposes in landfills, it releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The cycle of producing, transporting, and discarding uneaten food not only consumes unnecessary energy but also leads to deforestation. Additionally, food waste exacerbates global food security and hunger issues, with uneaten food squandering resources that could address nutritional deficiencies among vulnerable populations. Moreover, the decomposition of food waste in landfills generates hazardous by-products, contaminating soil and water and posing health risks to communities.

Addressing food waste is crucial for environmental sustainability and has significant implications for human health. The conversion of food waste into biofertilizer employs various techniques to maximize nutrient recovery and minimize environmental impact. Composting, through microbial decomposition, transforms organic waste into nutrient-rich compost beneficial for plant growth. Furthermore, anaerobic digestion represents an alternative, sustainable method for biofertilizer production, using microorganisms in an oxygen-free environment to convert food waste into biogas and nutrient-rich digestate.

The conversion of food waste into biofertilizers offers numerous advantages for the environment and agriculture. It reduces methane emissions and overall pollution by diverting food waste from landfills. The nutrient-rich biofertilizer derived from food waste provides plants with essential nutrients, promoting soil fertility and increasing crop yields. Biofertilizer production also contributes to a circular economy, which fosters resource efficiency and sustainable farming practices. Fertilizers made from food waste are beneficial to a wide variety of plants. Tomatoes, peppers, and lettuce, as well as strawberries and watermelons, are common examples. Blue Porter Weed, roses, marigolds, and sunflowers also benefit from the nutrient-rich content of this eco-friendly fertilizer, which shows its versatility in supporting a wide variety of plants.

Figure 1. An overview of methods for the generation of biofertilizers from food waste.
Credit. Author

Application for large-scale

A visionary step toward sustainable agriculture is the implementation of large-scale food waste applications for biofertilizer production. A synergistic combination of advanced biotechnology, precision nutrient management, and ecological foresight creates this transformative initiative. Our goal is to harness the latent potential of food waste to catalyze a soil revolution by orchestrating the intricate dance of microorganisms in controlled environments. The benefits extend beyond simply enhancing fertility to mitigate environmental degradation, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and cultivate resilient agricultural ecosystems. In this paradigm shift, waste is converted into a regenerative resource that nurtures the environment and ensures food security for future generations by integrating science and sustainability.

Transforming waste into resources, I pioneer sustainable solutions at the intersection of microbiology and engineering. Blending microbiology with cutting-edge engineering, I convert waste into invaluable resources-creating detoxified water, biofuels, and biofertilizers that ensure a healthy planet for generations to come.

Pooja Sharma

Policy and government suggestions for transforming waste into value

Repurposing food waste as a biofertilizer for ornamental gardens stands out as a practical practice that not only mitigates environmental issues but also contributes to the flourishing of green areas. The government should endorse and implement policies that encourage this eco-friendly approach. In the first place, governments can create awareness campaigns to educate citizens about food waste and its benefits as a biofertilizer. By promoting such initiatives, we are contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 12 on responsible consumption and production.

Moreover, policy frameworks should encourage households, businesses, and local communities to separate food waste for biofertilizer production. Incentives, subsidies, or grants could be introduced to encourage the adoption of composting systems. In addition to these policies, robust waste management infrastructure must be in place to facilitate organic waste collection and processing. It is also important for governments to collaborate with agricultural and horticultural institutions to develop guidelines for the safe and effective use of food waste-derived biofertilizers. By doing this, the practice adheres to environmental and health standards. Consumers and gardeners can be assured of the quality of biofertilizers by implementing rigorous testing and certification processes.

Policy integration and global recognition

The government should integrate these findings into its policy frameworks, highlighting the advantages of reducing waste and promoting sustainable gardening practices. By adopting a comprehensive approach, it is possible to utilize food waste as biofertiliser in ornamental gardens, thereby accelerating the shift towards a more sustainable and greener future. Policies that foster awareness, encourage waste segregation, and uphold safety standards are essential for facilitating this transition. The application of food waste as biofertilizer in ornamental gardens is in harmony with various international and national policies that underscore the significance of sustainable waste management and the principles of a circular economy.

Globally, there is a growing emphasis on circular economy practices, with the European Union (EU) leading through its Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP). The CEAP prompts member states to engage in sustainable agricultural practices and to minimize food waste. Similarly, South Korea’s Food Waste Recycling Program demonstrates a proactive approach by collecting and converting food waste into biofertilizers.

In the United States, San Francisco’s mandatory composting ordinance has successfully diverted a considerable amount of organic waste, including food waste, from landfills. Singapore’s Zero Waste Masterplan and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 12, advocate for sustainable waste management practices to lessen the impact of consumption and production. These initiatives reflect a worldwide recognition of the potential to repurpose food waste for agricultural uses, including in the cultivation of ornamental gardens.

Challenges and opportunity

In the uncharted territory of food waste biofertiliser deployment, there are both formidable challenges and boundless opportunities. Optimizing microbial consortiums, nutrient ratios, and scaling requires cutting-edge biotechnological solutions due to their labyrinthine complexity. The challenges emerge as intricate puzzles, from ensuring pathogen-free formulations to synchronizing bioconversion processes. Despite these challenges, innovation seeds lie dormant, ready to sprout. By transforming waste into wealth, we can not only address environmental concerns but also open the door to a circular economy where every nutrient-rich molecule becomes a currency of sustainable development. Leaping into the unknown, pioneers can chart a course through scientific frontiers where challenges light the way, and opportunities illuminate the path to a regenerative and verdant future.

Conclusions

Food waste and biofertilizers play an important role in environmental sustainability and agricultural resilience. Food waste negatively impacts food security and greenhouse gas emissions. In conclusion, “Blossoming Sustainability: Food Waste as Biofertilizer for Ornamental Gardens” encapsulates a promising avenue for cultivating both beautiful landscapes and a more sustainable future. Repurposing food waste into biofertilizers enhances ornamental gardens’ health and aesthetics but also addresses pressing environmental concerns.

As we embrace the synergy between ecological responsibility and economic viability, “Blossoming Sustainability” signifies not only a horticultural innovation but also a strategic investment in a greener, more environmentally resilient future. Using food waste biofertilizer in ornamental gardening can save individuals and landscaping companies money from a cost-effective perspective. A reduction in the use of traditional fertilizers, as well as the associated production and transportation costs, contributes to economic efficiency. The circular economy model inherent in this approach transforms waste into a valuable resource, reducing the financial impact of inefficient disposal methods.

πŸ”¬πŸ§«πŸ§ͺπŸ”πŸ€“πŸ‘©β€πŸ”¬πŸ¦ πŸ”­πŸ“š

Journal reference

Sharma, P., Tiong, Y. W., Yan, M., Tian, H., Lam, H. T., Zhang, J., & Tong, Y. W. (2023). Assessing Stachytarpheta jamaicensis (L.) Vahl growth response and rhizosphere microbial community structure after application of food waste anaerobic digestate as biofertilizer with renewable soil amendments. Biomass and Bioenergy178, 106968. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biombioe.2023.106968

Dr. Sharma is a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at the National University of Singapore specializing in waste/wastewater management through the use of microbes to achieve sustainable pollution management. Her expertise lies in microbial strategies, particularly anaerobic digestion/reactor, which can generate biogas as a renewable energy source. She obtained her Ph.D. in Environmental Microbiology from India in 2020. Her exceptional research contributions have earned her national and international acclaim, including prestigious awards such as the "Young Scientist Medal" from the International Society of Environmental Botanists (ISEB), CSIR-NBRI, India, the Best Paper Award from NKUST, Taiwan, and the Federation of European Microbiological Societies (FEMS) Travel Grant Award for Hamburg, Germany, in 2023.

Prof Tong is a Professor at the National University of Singapore, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. His international engagements include a Visiting Scholar position at Shanghai Jiaotong University's Department of Mechanical Engineering in September-October 2016 and a similar position at the University of California, Santa Barbara's Department of Chemical Engineering in January-August 2016. In addition to his extensive research and teaching experience, Prof Tong has made significant contributions to waste management, biofuels, polymer synthesis, and biomedical engineering during his career.