December 27th, 2013

Olive oil processing wastes: a pressing issue


by Catherine Hansen


While olive oil is enjoyed the world over for its culinary and medicinal benefits, its production is integral to both the rural heritage and economy of North African and the Mediterranean. An estimated 2.9m tons of olive oil was produced worldwide in 2012, with some 2.5 million producers in the European Union’s olive sector alone — roughly one third of all EU farmers. This industry offers valuable opportunities, generating both seasonal work on farms and in the off-farm milling and processing industry; but while olive oil production has significant economic benefits, its downside is a surprisingly severe level of environmental harm and degradation.

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September 27th, 2013

Fit for pigs?

Pig and carrot

by Edd Colbert


Pigs are perhaps the original solution to the problem of food waste, but one that current farming practice and legislation has put out to graze. It is likely that their voracious appetite for our leftovers and offcuts was the reason why humans first domesticated pigs, and for centuries they helped to make sure that little went to waste. In the last hundred years, cheap grain reduced pigs’ role as waste disposers, but it was the foot and mouth outbreak in the UK in 2001 that led to swill kicking the bucket.

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May 10th, 2012

Fed up with the food waste scandal

by Tristram Stuart


On Saturday 12th May, Bristol will be the first city outside London to host a Feeding the 5000 (F5K) event. Between 1pm and 5pm, anyone who comes to visit College Green will have the chance to disprove the old adage – there really can be such a thing as a free lunch, thanks to the support of local charities, businesses and volunteers, including some of Bristol’s top chefs such as the Fabulous Baker Brothers, Tom Hunt and the Thali Café.

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December 12th, 2011

We can’t afford to waste phosphorus

by Thomas Vergunst


Demand for it is expected to rise by at least 50% by 2050. China, Morocco, the US, South Africa and Jordan control 85% of global reserves, which, according to some sources, are only expected to last another 50-100 years. The price in the EU rose by 800% in 2008 and the UK imports over 600,000 tonnes each year, at a cost of over £100m. But this isn’t a fossil fuel or a rare earth metal – it is phosphorus, an essential plant nutrient and an element for which there is no substitute. Therefore, as supplies of rock phosphate start dwindling there will be no possibility for shifting to alternatives – we will be forced to improve both the efficiency with which we extract/use the material and the rate at which we recover it from our waste streams.

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November 30th, 2011

Slurry seems to be the hardest word

Peter Jones

by Peter Jones


A talk by Helen Browning, CEO of the Soil Association, on 2 November left me pondering the problems of farming and waste.  Helen is a compelling speaker and, despite battling the after-effects of a cold, tackled a lot of topics with energy and thoughtfulness.

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