Can my TV be powered by banana skins?
The UK produces around 7.3 millions tonnes of food waste each year.
What most of us are not aware of is that around 240 thousand tonnes of this is made up of banana skins - That's over 3% of all food waste in total.
Recycle for Wales have gone bananas
According to Recycle for Wales, it only takes 40 banana skins to power the floodlights at Pontypridd Rugby Football Club for 10 minutes. They go on to claim that if every resident of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council recycled just one banana skin, it would power the floodlights of the whole stadium for a massive 41 days.
The Welsh have taken an innovative approach to this by using examples that we can all relate to, rather than just producing a bunch of boring statistics and dull pie-charts to hit the message home. They're also getting local Welsh landmarks and businesses on board to help promote their message.
More yellow bendy examples
Rrecycle for Wales also suggest that:
- Caernarfon Castle in Caernarfon could be powered for an hour with 480 banana peels.
- Theatr Clwyd (a regional arts centre in Wales) could be powered for a whole day if every Flintshire resident recycled one banana peel.
- The Ffestiniog 'Zip World' site (a Welsh zip wire attraction) could be powered entirely on just 180 banana skins.
How does food waste create energy?
Organic matter produces methane when it rots and this methane gas contributes to the build-up of greenhouse gases. If the gas is harnessed by recycling it instead, we can turn it into energy to power homes and businesses.
A spokesperson from Recycle for Wales, explained why bananas are on the agenda at popular Welsh landmarks:
"Even though half of households in Wales recycle their food waste, there’s still more we can do. When we ask people in Wales why they don't recycle their food waste, they tell us it's because they don't think they produce enough to bother.
In fact - we all create a certain amount of food waste which can’t be eaten, no matter how conscientious we are. Unavoidable waste items, like tea bags, egg shells, potato peels and of course, banana skins aren’t edible but can all be recycled.
This is why we decided to draw people's attention to these types of foods - to remind everyone, we can all Recycle for Wales and give it a new lease of life as energy."
Welsh food waste initiative
In Wales, a large amount of food waste is sent to an anaerobic digestion processing plant. What this means is that the food is left to naturally decompose into 2 main gases - methane and carbon dioxide. The extracted gas is then used to supplement the generation of electricity to power homes and businesses.
A direct example of this process in action comes from the Bryn Pica plant in Aberdare which produces enough energy to power well over 2,000 homes. There is also another valueable bi-product coming from the Bryn Pica plant - a rich fertiliser which can be used for a wide range of agricultural purposes.
What about my TV?
Whilst you obviously can't directly plug your TV into a bunch of bananas (apologies if the title of this blog post was a bit misleading :)), here are a few more interesting stats to get you thinking:
- Eight banana skins (or even six tea bags) can create enough energy to boil a kettle to make a brew.
- A small recycling caddy full of food waste generates enough electricity to watch a football match or a few of your favourite Soap Operas on TV.
- Three banana skins can generate enough energy to power a hairdryer for one minute.
Whilst we've focused mainly on bananas, the generation of electricity can be created by a wide range of organic matter and general food waste including used coffee grounds, egg shells, fruit and vegetables and their peelings and also fish and meat bones - so get munching today!