Trash2Treasure is an NGO established by a group of people who are enthusiastic about promoting the upcycling of organic materials. The Association aims to introduce an innovative alternative to utilize organic waste by growing edible mushrooms from food waste and organic compost.
According to official data, food waste in Hong Kong makes up around 30% (over 3,300 tonnes) of the daily municipal waste disposed to the landfills. Even though there are government programmes to enhance recycling capacities at a household level, most people are not aware of the available facilities and food waste collection services at their schools or housing estates. Also, the quality of the recycled compost is often not high enough as a fertilizer. Further, environmental campaigners have lamented the lack of clear governmental guidelines on food waste processing, which have failed to consider new, innovative ways to dispose of and handle food waste.
The Trash2Treasure Association aims to introduce an innovative alternative to using food waste and organic compost. To maximise the ability to divert organic waste from landfill, Trash2Treasure pledges to recover 25% of food waste to grow mushrooms. Driven by the concept of organic upcycling, the Association advocates for the creation of mushroom spawn through adding fungal mycelia to a mixture of sterilized organic waste material, which includes processed food waste, coffee grounds and wood chips, to grow edible mushrooms in 40 days. The association is currently using processed food waste in its medium-scale central farm to grow oyster mushroom and wood chips to grow lingzhi mushrooms, well known for its medicinal properties that reduce allergies and lower blood pressure. To promote public understanding on the food waste problem in Hong Kong and to introduce the novel organic upcycling concept to the general public, Trash2Treasure organises lectures and workshops for universities, as well as secondary and primary schools. The Association also partners with large corporations to organise upcycling workshops, which teach participants ways to grow edible mushrooms from food waste, as part of their corporate social responsibility strategies.
It is crucial for food-related innovation to occur along the entire life cycle of food production, from packaging to disposal, in order to tackle food waste. By using organic food waste to cultivate mushrooms, Trash2Treasure Association’s innovative idea of organic waste upcycling is an example of redefining well-known concepts such as organic agriculture. The Association has sought to further maximise its impact by collecting discarded peach trees from multiple popular Chinese New Year flower festivals in recent years to carry out organic cultivation. Supported by the Tai Po District Council, Trash2Treasure has also collected over 1,400 responses from local students to gauge the public’s understanding of food waste and their acceptance of alternative ways to tackle the food waste problem.
“Background.” Food Wise Hong Kong Website, Environment Bureau, Hong Kong. https://www.foodwisehk.gov.hk/en/about-us.php. Accessed 29 October 2020.