Waste welfare

 
Published: Tuesday 15 April 1997

a novel method of managing food waste from school meals has not only generated economic and environmental dividends, but also established a kinship between urban and rural people. The food waste is recycled into compost for use in agricultural fertilisers. The compost is used by farmers in rural areas to grow vegetables and flowers, which are then sold in the cities.

Last year, the municipal office of Tokyo installed machines for processing leftovers from meals at 64 elementary and junior-high schools in the Kita ward. Officials of Kita entered into an agreement with farmers in Kanra, an agricultural town in the southwestern part of Gunma prefecture, to promote organic farming. Every month, eight farming households in Kanra receive 500 kg to one metric tonne of compost from Tokyo. The ward office buys vegetables such as Japanese radishes from Kanra and sells them to local residents at the monthly farmers' market.Several other villages and cities have initiated similar ventures. A nationwide network for recycling food waste has also been formed by municipal officials from these cities.

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