1. Global warming
When food waste decomposes, it releases methane gas which is 87 times worse than carbon dioxide. This contributes to global warming and has a direct impact on the temperatures of the Earth and Ocean. Sea surface temperatures have increased by more than 0.85°C (1.5°F) since the start of the 20th century.
Though this might seem like an insignificant number to humans, the slightest fluctuation in sea surface temperature causes serious ramifications that affect the marine ecosystems in a multitude of ways. It affects migration and breeding patterns, impacts sensitive ecosystems such as coral, and changes the nutrient supply in the ocean. This causes a butterfly effect which cannot be measured on such a scale.
2. Bioaccumulation of Pesticides
Food is often treated with pesticides, insecticides, hormones, antibiotics, and preservatives. When human food waste is dumped in the ocean, it is consumed by marine life. The chemicals in that waste accumulate as they move up the food chain and cause elevated levels of toxicity.
The bioaccumulation of pesticide and other chemicals from food waste cycles back the food chain and ultimately ends up at the very source: humans. As the concentration increases up the food web, it can reach dangerous levels for both fish and the humans who rely on fish as a food source.
Nutrients from food waste irresponsibly deposited into the ocean can cause eutrophication, a process in which high nutrient concentration in water causes algal bloom. Algal bloom typically happens as a result of nutrients such as nitrogen or phosphorus entering an aquatic system and causing phytoplankton to grow and reproduce.
The algal bloom disrupts the normal marine ecosystem in a number of ways: using all the oxygen in the water, blocking sunlight for photosynthetic marine plants, and producing toxins harmful to the food chain.
4. Plastic Pollution
When food waste is dumped into the ocean, plastic is more often than found in the mix. The accidental plastic does not break down into harmless molecules. Instead, it breaks down into microplastics that take thousands of years to decompose. The microplastics are typically consumed by plankton and other tiny organisms. In multiple studies, microplastics have been shown to negatively impact feeding, growth, and reproduction of smaller organisms. This affects phytoplankton populations which are the backbone of the marine food chain.
Maritime vessels must be extremely careful when dealing with food waste. Rectifying improper food waste management in the ocean is very expensive and time consuming. It is not a problem that can be solved overnight, nor can a single entity tackle it by themselves. Resolving the issues accompanying food waste requires collective efforts and strategy.
Food digesters are a proven solution for proper disposal of food waste on land as well as on ships. As one of earth’s oldest processes, composting is the most effective means of stabilizing and converting biodegradable waste. The LFC biodigesters manufactured by Power Knot digest food waste onboard ships and meet MARPOL regulations. The process is continuous and aerobic leading to ease of use and no smells. The inherent design of the LFC biodigester prevents plastics and non-biodegradable items from entering waste streams.
Like a stainless steel stomach, the food waste is not macerated but it is decomposed to such a degree that it becomes a liquid. The liquid exits the machine through a fine mesh screen and then is sent safely to the grey water system.
Contact Power Knot Ocean today to take the first step in tackling food waste onboard.