'Food Power': How many apple cores does it take to power a light bulb?

By Cole Rosengren, Waste Dive.

Tackling food waste may seem daunting for the average consumer. Date labels can be confusing, shopping habits can seem hard to change and it may seem like one person's action can't make a difference when the problem is talked about on a national or global scale.

Save On Energy, an online marketplace, is trying to change that by putting food waste into more personal terms with a new project on energy usage dubbed "Food Power." Based on data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, which estimates that approximately 1.3 billion metric tons of food produced for human consumption is wasted every year, the project uses North America's average per capita rate of 105 kilograms (approx. 231 pounds) as its baseline.

Using the conversion formula for Impact Bioenergy's HORSE AD25 microdigester (10 pounds of food waste can generate between one to two kilowatt hours of electricity) the team extrapolated this data into household energy usage terms on a larger scale. Impact Bioenergy confirmed for Waste Dive that this formula could be applicable for demonstration purposes, with larger digesters operating closer to the two kilowatt hour level.

The logistics of collecting all of this food waste, let alone siting and permitting large-scale digesters to process it, is of course much more complicated. The Save On Energy team recognized this and said their main goal was to frame the issue in a more consumer-oriented way. As noted in the ReFED report, homes account for 43% of the food wasted by weight in the U.S. at a financial cost of $144 billion.