Load shedding has led to higher volumes of organic waste.

While many businesses are finding a way to keep their power on and operations running, businesses within the agriculture, food processing and hospitality sectors are also dealing with an increase in organic waste due to load shedding. An interrupted power supply is affecting cold storage units, ovens, and production lines. This has resulted in higher volumes of food and organic waste from these sectors.

BiobiN South Africa, with their in-vessel composting unit, is working with these sectors, talks about the impacts of load shedding and what businesses can do to manage increased volumes of organic waste.

“Food production, retail and hospitality require a consistent power supply and when there is an interruption, often food products and resources are compromised, causing it to go to waste,” says Brian Küsel, director of BiobiN South Africa. “When we have frequented two-hour stints of load shedding, businesses struggle to keep their food produce from spoiling.”

In a recent media statement, Western Cape Premier, Alan Winde indicated that the Western Cape alone is estimated to have lost between R48.6 billion and R61.2 billion in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) since load shedding commenced in late 2007.

Considering the impact of load shedding, BiobiN looks at each sector to see how load shedding is increasing waste volumes:

Agriculture and crop production

With harvest season having just passed the irrigation demand for crops was at an all time high. Under load shedding stage 4, irrigation system that are powered by electric pumps, were placed under severe strain with some farms experiencing interruptions to irrigation. For some farms, frequent irrigation interruptions, meant degradation in crop quality, crop loss and more agricultural waste.

Cooling and refrigeration for food produce

For fruits and vegetables going to market or allocated for export, food regulations require the produce to remain under a specific temperature. If the products are subjected to higher temperatures, retail are most likely to reject the entire consignment.

For frozen products, defrosting may occur with the product needing to be sold or used within a very short timeframe, otherwise it would have to go to waste.

Ventilation and cooling for poultry

Having an uninterrupted electricity supply is incredibly important for the wellbeing of livestock. The poultry sector is very reliant on electricity for ventilation and cooling. Without adequate ventilation and cooling, the mortality rate increases.

Cooking and food processing

Cooking and food production lines are also sensitive to power cuts. While bigger food processing companies will most likely have a backup power supply, it is the smaller businesses, like bakeries that are feeling the brunt of load shedding impacts. To restart the baking process after a power cut is often challenging and results in half-baked goods that need to be discarded.

“It is often the smaller businesses, like restaurants and bakeries that are feeling the pinch of load shedding. To run a backup power supply like a generator comes at a significant cost. In addition to this, these businesses now have to think about how they are going to handle bigger volumes of food and organic waste, and the potential increase in disposal fees,” says Küsel.

“We are working with businesses within the agricultural, food processing, retail and hospitality sectors to manage increased organic waste volumes with contained composting units. Often these composting units are integrated into the existing waste management systems, such as centralised waste drop-off and disposal sites. This allows multiple businesses to make use of a nearby on-site composting unit. This model works well in corporate and industrial parks,” says Küsel.

Keep up with the conversation at www.biobin.co.za or on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BiobiNSouthAfrica

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