South Korea has found a way to turn discarded food into fuel, animal feed, and fertilizer.
South Korea’s unique system is able to keep around 90 percent of discarded food from ever reaching a landfill. “The South Korea example makes it possible to reduce emissions at a larger scale,” says Paul West, senior scientist with Project Drawdown, a research group that studies ways to reduce carbon emissions.
Yearly, around 1.4 billion tons of food are thrown away around the world. Food waste is considered to be one of the biggest contributors to climate change in part because of the wasted energy and resources that went into its production and transport. Once rotted, it pollutes water and soil and releases methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases. South Koreans are all on board, with restaurants, kindergartens, and private homes participating in ensuring their discarded food gets turned into something useful. Experts say South Korea’s system should be emulated around the world.