Food Wastes Disposal Methods

Food waste is one of the most prominent waste streams across Middle East, especially in GCC region.  The mushrooming of hotels, restaurants, fast-food joints and cafeterias in the Middle East region has resulted in the generation of huge quantities of food wastes. The proportion of food waste in municipal waste stream is gradually increasing and hence a proper food waste management strategy needs to be devised to ensure its eco-friendly and sustainable disposal in the Middle East. 

Food waste is an untapped energy source that mostly ends up rotting in landfills, thereby releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Food waste includes organic wastes generated in hotels, restaurants, canteens, cafeterias, shopping malls and industrial parks in the form of leftover food, vegetable refuse, stale cooked and uncooked food, meat, teabags, napkins, extracted tea powder, milk products etc. It is difficult to treat or recycle food waste since it contains high levels of sodium salt and moisture, and is mixed with other waste during collection. 

Food waste can be recycled by two main pathways:

  • Composting: A treatment that breaks down biodegradable waste by naturally occurring micro-organisms with oxygen, in an enclosed vessel or tunnel or pit
  • Anaerobic digestion or biogas technology: A treatment that breaks down biodegradable waste in the absence of oxygen, producing a renewable energy (biogas) that can be used to generate electricity and heat.


​​Composting provides an alternative to landfill disposal of food waste, however it requires large areas of land, produces volatile organic compounds and consumes energy. Compost is organic material that can be used as a soil amendment or as a medium to grow plants. Mature compost is a stable material with a content called humus that is dark brown or black and has a soil-like, earthy smell. It is created by: combining organic wastes (e.g., yard trimmings, food wastes, manures) in proper ratios into piles, rows, or vessels; adding bulking agents (e.g., wood chips) as necessary to accelerate the breakdown of organic materials; and allowing the finished material to fully stabilize and mature through a curing process. 

Anaerobic Digestion

Anaerobic digestion has been successfully used in several European and Asian countries to stabilize food wastes, and to provide beneficial end-products. Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Germany and England have led the way in developing new advanced biogas technologies and setting up new projects for conversion of food waste into energy. The relevance of biogas technology lies in the fact that it makes the best possible utilization of various organic wastes as a renewable source of clean energy. A biogas plant is a decentralized energy system, which can lead to self-sufficiency in heat and power needs, and at the same time reduces environmental pollution. 

Of the different types of organic wastes available, food waste holds the highest potential in terms of economic exploitation as it contains high amount of carbon and can be efficiently converted into biogas and organic fertilizer. Food waste can either be utilized as a single substrate in a biogas plant, or can be co-digested with organic wastes like cow manure, poultry litter, sewage, crop residues, abattoir wastes etc. 


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About Salman Zafar

Salman Zafar is the Founder of EcoMENA, and an international consultant, advisor, ecopreneur and journalist with expertise in waste management, waste-to-energy, renewable energy, environment protection and sustainable development. His geographical areas of focus include Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe. Salman has successfully accomplished a wide range of projects in the areas of biomass energy, biogas, waste-to-energy, recycling and waste management. He has participated in numerous conferences and workshops as chairman, session chair, keynote speaker and panelist. Salman is the Editor-in-Chief of EcoMENA, and is a professional environmental writer with more than 300 popular articles to his credit. He is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on renewable energy, waste management and environmental sustainability in different parts of the world. Salman Zafar can be reached at or

22 Responses to Food Wastes Disposal Methods

  1. Very useful article and leanrt more.
    I really appriciate your  effortd in this regards.
    An expecting more, please.
    Thanks and Rergards
    Mohamed Sarfideen Abdul Rakee

  2. Abdulkareem Adam says:

    This topic needs commitment from governments and their municipalities to enact a stringent law that all food wastes be sorted at source to enable successful collection and utilisation by either private or government facilities.

    A food tax could be imposed on those who do not separate their waste at source and a collection imposed as a tariff to aid in building composting and anerobic digestion facilities in every major city.

    The possible benefits far outweigh the initial costs and levering a tax to cover costs is not that difficult and doesn’t have to be big as the amount of hotels, food outlets and household consumption has increased sufficiently to make it a self financing project.

    If you would like to talk about this personally with me on a business footing, then please feel free to email me.

    Abdulkareem Adam
    Business Development Director
    GRR Ltd

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  4. Mazin says:

    Very beneficial article. Thanks a lot.

  5. bagindasimatupang says:

    Thank,s lot for your information , I will try your methods to our offshore in island camp service.

    Baginda Simatupang

  6. atheeq abdurrahman says:

    this article is more useful and it has some superb points about disposing the food waste. by reading this article i got sound knowledge in disposing the food waste

  7. Ranjeet says:

    very helpful for my college project. thank you !!

  8. gatz says:

    Very very good article and at the same time we the people as well as govt. Should be concious too.

  9. Katy says:

    My school is beginning composting, do you collect compost?

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