Conducting a Food Waste Audit for a family explores
i.) both an open and closed system
because it is dependent on the commitments and activities of the individuals within the household, as well as their personal choices particularly in food and waste consumption. Furthermore, within this small case study,
ii.) we encounter dynamic movements in the life cycle of the food,
allowing us to further understand the complexity involved in the process of food waste and consumption.
In this post, we will explore a very typical Saturday morning for food waste consumption in my family. Having first attempted to conduct an audit at a book lunch at university (*see picture at end of blog); this particular audit focuses towards the routine that each individual member of the family usually undertakes on this day. This also means that the ‘One-day Saturday Audit’ will provide similar results for the general Saturdays (although the types of food consumed will be very different), of the family.
From the diagram, we notice the complexity of food consumption within the household. It is generally likely that as a family, individuals would likely consume the same types of meals (and thus we can simply audit in terms of the quantity consumed). However, with different commitments and habits of the individual, there can also be variations in choices (as seen in the diagram for example, both parents consuming lunch at home, but it was a ‘takeaway,’ and then Child #1 decided to have ‘Brunch’ instead of having breakfast or lunch).
The home is subjected to Penrith City Council that makes use of the Organic Bin System (or ‘Green Bin’) which encourage a process “that organic waste is recycled into high-grade compost, recyclables are remade into new products and the small amount of waste leftover is buried in landfill” (Penrith City Council Bin Services). Thus, to continue the story of food consumption, a further audit was initiated, from the ‘food diary’ of each individual (via survey of each person), to an actual closer inspection of the wastes inside the Green Bin for that Saturday. With this, we can focus on the food process at a more specific direction.
The results shown above enables us to notice that most of the scraps are from the family dinner since every single member of the family was at home to have a sit-down meal together. However, there is also evidence (though scarce) of food scraps from other meals throughout the day, even if they were not homemade.
This further leads to the realisation of the different lifecycles present inside the Organics Bin. It also allows us to discover a complex flow of the food wastes, which converge towards a singular direction towards the Organic Bin. As the Bin is collected and moves towards the recycling sites, the wastes are then segregated into different systems; thus splitting the life cycle and again, diverging them into different processes and systems- a great example of the dynamics and complexity of the food waste process.
Coffs Coast Waste Services, Frequently Asked Questions and Answers. Online PDF, Coffs Harbour City Council, Coffs Harbour, viewed 2 April 2017 <http://recyclingnearyou.com.au/documents/doc-227-frequently-asked-questions-and-answers.pdf>
Penrith City Council, Bin Services. Penrith City, viewed 31 March 2017, <https://www.penrithcity.nsw.gov.au/Waste-and-Environment/Waste/Bin-services/#What%20can%20I%20put%20in%20the%20organics%20bin?>