Tuesday, 19 March 2013

How LED lighting could help cut food waste


Changing the light bulbs could help supermarkets reduce the estimated 300,000 tonnes of food waste they produce each year, according to one lighting company.

Welsh firm Sedna LED reckons illuminating fresh produce with light bulbs that emit heat causes food to sweat in its packaging, contributing to the food waste mountain that costs retailers millions of pounds each year.

As a result, the company is arguing that in addition to cutting energy bills, LED lights could also help keep food fresh.

"Unlike conventional lighting, LED lighting does not emit heat or any UV or IR rays, so food stays fresher for longer," the company said in a statement. "LED light sources can be placed in close vicinity to food for an enhanced aesthetic effect, but with no danger of premature food deterioration."

Supermarkets have made strides in tackling the problem through initiatives such as improving storage advice, trialling packaging that keeps food fresher for longer, and using old food for energy rather than sending it to landfill.

But campaigners have continued to highlight a problem that costs the economy billions of pounds and leads to increased greenhouse gas emissions.

In related news, the hospitality sector has this week become the latest industry to announce a new initiative to halve the amount of food waste it sends to landfill each year.

A study by the Hospitality Carbon Reduction Forum blamed a lack of anaerobic digestive (AD) capacity along with inconsistent nationwide waste contractor coverage for the fact that over 50 per cent of the food waste generated by its 12,000 restaurants and pubs is currently going to landfill.

The Forum is now evaluating options to help reduce its impact, which could include building a dedicated new AD plant for Hospitality Forum members or transporting food waste to existing AD plants.

There are currently around 200 AD plants in the UK providing roughly 170MW of capacity, around one per cent of the capacity found in Germany.

Proponents say the technology is a sustainable way of generating both electricity and biogas, which could generate up to 10 per cent of the UK's domestic gas demand as a cheap and secure alternative to natural gas imports.

However, the industry has warned the subsidies available to the technology are not sufficient to drive widespread take up.





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