This year, from the 23th to 25th of June, the International Conference on Sustainable Solid Waste Management was organised for the 8th time, where experts in the field of solid waste management presented their latest results. Atilla Kunszabó from Wasteless team introduced the findings of his diploma thesis.
The three-day event, which has a great reputation in international scientific and technological communities, would have taken place in Thessaloniki, but the COVID-19 situation obstructed its realization. Thus, representatives of the field gathered through an online connection.
In the frame of the conference, a wide range of waste management options were presented to the interested audiences. Researchers introduced the decomposition of aerobic and anaerobic waste, different valorisation methods, waste-based energy production, hazardous waste disposal, and the extraction of valuable materials from wastewater. Food waste management was also a highlighted topic of the event.
Our research team presented the results of our latest consumer survey, this time examining the relationships between the food waste behaviours and composting habits of Hungarian citizens. The results indicate that nearly one-third of the population composts the food waste generated in their households. Unsurprisingly, this proportion is much higher in smaller settlements (48%), but an encouraging result is that 19% of those living in the capital (Budapest) apply this method of food waste valorisation. The study confirmed that attitudes towards environmental protection are strongly related with food waste production as well as composting habits. We defined a segment of the study population which is characterized by a high level of environmental awareness, but does not compost in the absence of adequate space. For this group, the introduction of different composting options that can be carried out in housing estate environments (e.g. community composting) would be beneficial. The research revealed that there is a remarkably high proportion of ‘active environmentalists’ over the age of 60, which is reflected in their selective waste collection, food waste prevention, composting, and gardening habits. However, the same cannot be observed among the 18-39 age group, which highlights the need for the involvement of the younger generations in environmental activities.
Although prevention should always be the primary aim in food waste reduction, it is encouraging to know that quite a few research sites are striving to make the food chain more sustainable by examining the recyclability of food waste. We took this message home with us after the conference.