Energy and water are consumed or contaminated during both the production and disposal of wasted food. To date, evaluations of water and energy resources associated with food waste have considered only resources used in food production. To allow for the full characterization of food waste within a Food Energy Water (FEW) nexus framework, this study addresses a fundamental knowledge gap related to the energy and water impacts of food waste after disposal. Fluxes of water and energy related to disposal of wasted food in landfills within the state of Florida were characterized. It is estimated that each metric ton (Mg) of landfilled food waste produces 18.1 kWh of energy, while the energy needed for collection, leachate transport, and treatment totals 126.5 kWh/Mg. These values equate to a net energy cost of 108.4 kWh/Mg, which is 110 Million kWh annually in Florida. It was observed that the water footprint of landfilled food waste is related to the assimilation of contaminated effluent and ranges from 2.5 to 58.5 m3 per metric ton of landfilled food waste, depending on the constituent of interest. Up to 58 Million m3 of water may be required annually to assimilate contamination related to landfilled food waste in Florida. We assessed the sensitivity of 14 variables used to estimate energy and water impacts and found that impacts are sensitive to the proportion of landfills collecting and utilizing landfill gas, concentration of constituents in leachate, and volume of effluent. Future research should be focused to improving the characterization of these influential parameters, and to similar FEW analysis of other food waste management technologies, such as composting or anaerobic digestion. Better understanding of water and energy impacts of food waste could inform societal decision making regarding investment in FEW-efficient waste management technologies.
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Master of Science in Civil Engineering (M.S.C.E.)
College of Engineering and Computer Science
Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Sarker, Tonmoy, "Water and Energy Costs of Landfilled Food Waste" (2017). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 5364.