Food wastewater problem must be solved quickly

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Food wastewater problem must be solved quickly

Food wastewater treatment has emerged as a social issue. The food wastewater had been sent out to the sea until last year, but the discharge to the sea is banned by the law this year. However, most of the waste treatment companies do not have proper food wastewater treatment facilities yet. While the ban on the discharge to the sea was notified seven years ago, the treatment companies have made little progress.

As a result, we may be faced with a serious food waste crisis. Every year, about 4 million tons of food waste is discharged across the country, and about 1 million ton of food wastewater was sent out to the sea. Though some local governments have treatment facilities, their capacity is not enough to treat all the wastewater that had been discharged to the sea.

In the end, private wastewater treatment companies and local governments need to have proper facilities to treat the food wastewater. In that case, the treatment cost may triple from the current rate of 100,000 won ($92.13) per ton to 300,000 won per ton. The burden on each household may increase from 1,500 won per month to 4,500 won per month.

The food waste treatment technology is generally divided into two types: dry and wet. But no method is perfect. The dry method use electric power to dry up the food waste, but is costly and has odor problems. There are several wet methods, and the most promising one is to use micro-organisms to ferment the food waste to vaporize 40 percent and liquefy 60 percent to be discharged to the sewer system. While more than 1,000 companies had gotten involved in the project, technological limitations related to odor treatment led many of them to shut down. At present, some 20 companies have barely survived.

But the Ministry of Environment has not changed much from the last decade when it comes to the treatment of food waste. The food waste crisis can only be resolved when the Ministry of Environment actively addresses the issue. The Ministry needs to aggressively seek alternatives and provide proper assistance to the companies that develop food waste treatment-related technologies.
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