REFEED: Banco Alimentare in Lisbon starts composting fruit and vegetables

Organic waste represents about ⅓ of urban containers and is essentially composed of water (80%). From an ecological point of view, it is unsustainable to bury it, incinerate it or transport it far away. Composting is a recycling process where bacteria and fungi decompose organic material in an aerobic environment. Organic wastes (in this case livestock mortalities) are transformed by bacteria into a soil-like material similar to humus. Composting in urban areas allows us to manage the waste that we produce in a proximity circuit, encouraging urban agriculture practices, with strong benefits for both our physical and mental health, through an approximation biophilic relationship with nature and the creation of new social bonds. 

In 2021, at the warehouse of Banco Alimentar in Lisbon, more than 100 tonnes of organic waste were generated. This waste is divided into two broad categories: organic waste is not usable and leftovers that are intended for animal feed. The first category consists of overripe fruit or yellow cabbage that cannot be taken advantage of by the people supported and that, due to their advanced state of deterioration, also cannot be used on animals. It is currently being put in the trash undifferentiated, having no use. 

The project REFEED envisages the installation of composting equipment that is a closed container, based on an innovative solution for transforming fruit and vegetable waste, that takes advantage of the heat of decomposition of products mixed with wood waste and with a propeller, accelerates composting. 

Banco Alimentar is the principal beneficiary because the majority of the organic waste produced with fruits and vegetable is composted and reused. Banco Alimentar plans to to start offering this compost to urban community gardens so that there is a positive impact on the environment and the possibility to produce more food.

The installation of this equipment allows Banco Alimentar to have zero waste, which is important for achieving its mission. The team of employees and volunteers who dedicate themselves every day are extremely proud of this new equipment.