TOKYO - As much as 8 million tons of edible food is discarded by convenience store chains, department stores and elsewhere in Japan every year simply because it is approaching its sell-by date. Rather than letting such food go to waste, one company is turning it into healthy, low-cost pig feed.
Japan Food Ecology Center's food-recycling plant in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, receives up to 32 tons of food waste a day from about 180 operators. This includes unsold or close-to-date prepared food from department stores and convenience store chains, as well as waste from food-processing plants.
President Koichi Takahashi said most of the food waste brought to his company is still edible. The containers don't emit any foul odours, and there are no flies buzzing around. "Pigs are like human beings," he said. "They don't eat rotten or mouldy food."
Municipalities usually charge about 40-50 yen (45 - 57 cents) per kilogram to incinerate food waste generated by stores and factories. Japan Food Ecology Center is attracting attention because it handles food waste at about half the cost, according to Takahashi.
The company can process waste the same day it is received and ship it as feed the next day.