Can food waste be used to clean polluted water?

Mozambique is one of the largest coal exports in Africa, producing polluted water that affects the surrounding environment. The metals and metalloids in this water pose a significant health risks to the public and can cause severe damage to the local environment. This open access research from Cogent Environmental Science aims to address these issues.

Chemical and physical methods have been tried and tested in an attempt to treat the contaminated water. However, these methods have high operational and capital costs, are not efficient or easy to operate and generate toxic sludge. Therefore, many researchers have turned to other, natural options to try and resolve the problem.

In the past, rice husks, sugarcane, orange peels, sawdust, coffee residue and yeast have all been used to remove metals and metalloids from wastewater.

Mozambique is also one of the largest producers of the cassava plant, a woody shrub that is the main source of carbohydrates in Africa. Cassava is similar to a sweet potato and is the third-largest source of food carbohydrates in the tropics, after rice and maize. As a result, Mozambique produces huge amounts of cassava peels, most of which go to waste. The aim of this study is to use these wasted peels to clean the polluted water in Mozambique.

The article concludes that the cassava peels can remove metals from the water very efficiently. For example, 70% of Magnesium can be removed in around 20 minutes. This method is ground-breaking in using food waste to clean water that could otherwise threaten the lives of the people who use it: effectively using one person’s waste to clean up another’s.

The open access article is freely available for anyone to read via this permanent link: https://www.cogentoa.com/article/10.1080/23311843.2017.1355088