Creative Disposal Pleasing Cattle and Pigs

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Creative Disposal Pleasing Cattle and Pigs

By Alëx Elliott
Cows at Mývatn

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

400 tons of waste food is now being fed to animals, instead of going to landfill.

Around 400 tons of fruit and vegetables which would otherwise be thrown away is now being used as food for Icelandic cattle and pigs. Staff at Búr ehf. felt the company was spending too much on having its waste processed by Sorpa waste management. The solution they found was to send the waste food to farmers instead.

Fruit and vegetables have a short shelf life compared to most other goods and there is therefore a large amount of waste. “This company handles something like 20,000 tons of fresh products a year. If it is 2% of that, then it is about 400 tons,” Búr ehf. CEO Sigurður A. Sigurðsson told RÚV, when asked how much goes to waste.

The company used to pay Sorpa to deal with all of its waste, but has since found an alternative solution in co-operation with a local farmer. The farmer used to drop off his potatoes at Búr and then drive back empty, whereas now goes back with fruit and vegetables which are beyond their best. “The costs are a lot lower and they get tasty and nutritious feed for their animals – and people just feel better about it all, because this is a much greener solution than the other way,” Sigurður says.  

Potato farmer Kristján Einarsson collects the waste food, sorts it, removes all packaging for recycling, and then distributes it to local livestock farms. He says the animals love the extra variety and are genuinely excited to see him every time.

Apparently it took the cattle time to adjust to the new menu and learn new tricks, like bursting melons and peeling bananas, but now it is like Christmas every time they hear Kristján approaching. He says the animals leave almost nothing behind – with the exception of onions and lemons.

Kristján is paid for his efforts with meat, which he says is lighter, more tender and tastier than normal, as a direct result of the animals’ varied diet.

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