Most food waste from households has been recycled into feeds and dry fertilizers. In the past, it was common for small companies to make feeds out of their food waste based on wet treatment methods. Recently, large companies have started making food waste into dried powder. In this context, about 50 percent of food waste on a national scale and 80 percent of food waste in Seoul are dried. In Korea, it is illegal to use food waste as organic fertilizers. In November 2018, the Rural Development Administration announced a revision to this policy, in effect legalizing the use of food waste as organic fertilizers. Opponents have responded that the use of food waste as fertilizers is inappropriate. Accordingly, the policy revision by the Rural Development Administration is under delay. In the meantime, dry powders have been piling up inside public treatment facilities over the past three months. Moreover, predictions are emerging that food waste collection services in Seoul and other capital areas will be suspended if the delay continues. In this situation, let's find out in detail what advantages and disadvantages the issue of fertilization of food waste have and what experts say.
Food waste is organic matter and thus decomposes into the form of nutrients. Composts mean natural fertilizers. In this article, we will identify two expressions: composts and fertilizers. Fertilization of food waste is one of the ways to dispose food waste, and it can be divided into aerobic composting and anaerobic composting. Aerobic composting refers to the process of decomposing food waste while allowing the breathing of microorganisms by injecting air. In contrast, anaerobic composting refers to the process of incompletely decomposing food waste through a digestive action of microorganisms. Anaerobic composting differs from the former in that it does not require the injection of air. In Korea, aerobic composting is mostly used because it has many advantages in terms of economy and technology. Let's find out more about why aerobic composting fertilization is desirable.
First, fertilization of food waste allows Korea to reduce imports of large amounts of organic fertilizers. The Rural Development Administration said on March 14th that it will complete the revision of setting process standards for fertilizers to legalize the use of food wastes as organic fertilizers by the end of this month. The revision, if carried out, would replace a castor bean oil cake, which is currently the most commonly used ingredient for organic fertilizers in Korea. The castor bean oil cake is the residue left after oil has been drawn from seeds. It is used because it has many necessary ingredients which plants need while growing. Castor bean oil cake is not produced in Korea, but is mostly imported. In addition, the imports are made on a large scale of 52.5 billion won in a year. If the fertilization of food waste is possible, the cost would be cheaper to meet the needs with dried powder made in Korea without imports.
Second, the fertilization of food waste can generate economic profits. Composting refers to the use of food waste made in pre-cooking situations, which account for about 75% of all food waste. Farmers usually use the compost in their organic agriculture works. They have used haystacks, such as sawdust and chaff, to make compost. However, the cost of this process is considerable. In this case, the use of food waste fertilizer can have a similar effect with little cost. It is also positive in that not only can the stabilization of food waste be achieved in the process quickly, but also can be stored for long periods once it is fertilized.
Third, the fertilization of food waste is a global trend. In 2010, the EU invested 5 million rupees ($45,000) in Kotawila in the southern part of Sri Lanka to create a four-acre landfill, which included facilities used to fertilize food waste. This is because food waste, as an organic fertilizer, can be a case representing an ideal model in relation to the resource cycle. According to Song Woo-jin, an associate researcher of the policy model team at the Korea Rural Economic Institute, the idea of circulating resources is based on appropriateness. It can create positive effects such as reducing costs of environmental conservation, replacing imports relevant to foreign currencies and securing technology. The opinion is also positive because it is one of the reasons why the fertilization of food waste is gaining attention. Therefore, fertilizing food waste should be legalized.
As has been described so far, food waste fertilizer is essential in that it can reduce the amount of organic fertilizer imports, create economic profits and become an issue worldwide. In the past, the current debate was not plausible because it was illegal to use dry powder as an organic fertilizer for food waste. However, thanks to the position of the Rural Development Administration, room for improvement in reality is gradually being revealed. Therefore, CAH hopes that the local government will come up with measures to supplement the limitations of reality so that it can take advantage of the fertilization of food waste.
< 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >