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Case Studies and Resources

Finland to turn Christmas food waste into fuel

You have to hand it to Finland, as one of the world’s top eco-friendly countries, they have done it again.  A campaign called Kinnkutemppu aims to take the unwanted fat from Christmas hams and turn it into renewable diesel fuel at its Porvoo refinery.  When you consider that ham is the most traditional Christmas food in the area, with almost 7 million kilograms (14,000,000,000 pounds) sold a year.  That is a lot of potential food waste.

Hams to renewable fuel source.Quick fun fact for you.  Why is ham the traditional Christmas feast in Scandinavian countries?  Christmas was originally known as Yule, the ham is a holdover from Viking times when a wild boar was sacrificed to the god of fertility and farming, Frey.  The sacrifice was in hopes of a prosperous season to come, and because they were a thrifty culture, the meat was prepared for the following feast.

Anyway, they estimate that the fat from a single ham could create enough fuel to power a car for approximately 2 miles.  With so much ham being cooked, they hope to create enough fuel that it could power a car three times around the world. 

It appears to be the first initiative of its type.  While they don’t believe that it is going to make huge inroads into the world’s food waste issues, or even as a significant role in meeting their climate targets, they do see it as a starting point.  There is hope that it will become the new normal, instead of just an innovative idea.

Maybe North America and Europe can get involved, considering those two areas have the highest food waste percentages in the world. 

“What I find ridiculous is that in the United States, we are years behind Europe in our recycling efforts and the amount we recycle annually.  When companies from Europe bring ideas here, many companies, individuals, etc. are very careful not to roll them out due to the costs and work associated with starting to recycle anything and everything.

As a recycling consultant and CEO of Waste Cost Solutions, I look forward to the day when large chains divert trash from landfills, much like Disney is doing.   They have a goal to divert at least 60% of all their solid waste from landfills and reduce their greenhouse gases by 50% by the year 2020.  Their ultimate goal is to be Zero Waste.  I respect what they do and would like to help more businesses create a sustainability plan today to protect our tomorrows. 

We do this in our own offices.  We collect and sort all of our paper, cardboard, plastic containers, and bottles.  It added a little more expense to begin with, but its cut back on the amount that ends up in our landlord’s waste management containers – which he pays too much for.  Start in your own office.  You know, the water bottles, the Gatorade bottles, plastic food containers, cardboard, and metal.  Give it a home that isn’t the landfill."– Michael Mintz, CEO Waste Cost Solutions.

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Topics: recycling sustainability food waste renewable fuel recycle