GPS devices to tackle food waste problem

Updated: 2013-08-05 00:18

By Hou Liqiang (China Daily)

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Food waste collection trucks and trash cans will be outfitted with a computerized weighing and GPS device in Wuhan to deal with the problem of "gutter oil", illegally recycled cooking oil.

Operations will start on Dec 1 when a regulation that requires integrated collection and processing of kitchen waste takes effect in the Hubei capital.

GPS devices to tackle food waste problem

Employees of a food waste collection company in Wuhan, Hubei province, retrieve edible oil waste from a restaurant. Food waste collection trucks and trash cans will be equipped with GPS devices in the city to deal with the "gutter oil" problem.Provided to China Daily

All waste, including food remnants, scrap materials and edible oil wastes from food and beverage facilities, canteens and factories involved in food production and processing will be monitored by the integrated system, according to the regulation.

The regulation also defines edible oil waste as a mixture of water and oil retrieved from kitchen ventilators, oil-water separators or sewage facilities.

"Companies will be set up in each (city) district for collection and transport," said Chen Jian, director of construction for the Wuhan Urban Management Bureau.

He said companies or individuals who are not affiliated with the designated companies will be subject to fines.

According to the proposal for the project, 621 vehicles — 195 to be used for edible oil waste — and 25,800 garbage cans, which food facilities are required to use, will be prepared as part of the collection.

To guarantee no food waste is collected to make gutter oil, Chen said, a computerized system that records GPS and weight data will be installed on the collection trucks, as well as garbage cans or oil cans of oil-water separators.

"We can clearly know what the vehicles are doing, how much food waste is loaded or uploaded, and can track the vehicles with a click of a mouse in the office," he said.

Using the devices, the weight of the food waste will be recorded and kept for at least two years by the producer, collector and transporter and processor of the food waste, which is required by the regulation.

"If the weight of the food waste collected from a restaurant decreases sharply, we will investigate where the food waste goes," Chen said.

According to the city plan, five waste treatment plants with a daily capacity of processing 200 metric tons of food waste will be built and responsible for making methane and making compost from the residue.

The daily kitchen waste output is 1,100 tons, 55 percent of that of Beijing.

The integrated system will be started in restaurants larger than 80 square meters in the central areas and is expected to cover 60 percent of the food waste by the end of 2015, Chen said.

The integrated collection and processing will also reduce pollution from the food waste to the abundant water resources, said Yu Xiao, vice-president of Wuhan Environment Sanitation Science Research Institute.

"The famous cooking culture in Wuhan results in a large amount of food waste, which puts the large number of lakes and rivers in the city under pollution risk, as food waste usually will be deserted after the oil is extracted before the integrated collection and processing," he said.