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18th August 2015

Food waste collections – no reason not to! SWR’s Steph Dalton busts a few common myths relating to food waste recycling

The UK throws away approximately 15 million tonnes of food every year.  Over 10 million tonnes is generated by UK businesses such as food manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and the hospitality sector and most of it ends up in landfill – quite a sobering thought when you consider the cost of buying those ingredients in the first place. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way; with a few simple changes this statistic could be history.


Key to making the changes to reduce and manage your food waste will be your relationship with your waste partner who will continue to talk to you about the waste food you are producing and how the process can be improved for everyone involved.


I happen to be one of those waste partners and there are a few concerns I hear on a regular basis. I thought it would be useful to share them, along with the responses to try and help things along:


  • I don’t have space for another bin.  Food waste is heavier than most general waste streams resulting in many collectors using a smaller bin such as a 240l or 400l bin.  These bins will still hold a good weight and are used to stay within the health and safety limits for moving and lifting them.    Should you require a smaller solution than a 240l bin there are options such as bags and food caddies which can be used.


  • Food waste collections are expensive.  At first glance the unit price for the collection of a food waste bin may seem relatively high compared to the larger general waste containers, however we need to focus on weights. .  As mentioned previously, waste food is heavy and you will be able to store a significant amount within your receptacle.  It would cost you more to dispose of this in your general waste bin!


  • A bin full of waste food will be smelly.  Your collector will provide you with a lidded bin to keep pests out and smells in.  Your collection schedule needs to be frequent enough for the waste not to cause a problem.  If at any point you feel that odour becomes a problem then your contractor can advise you on a more frequent collection.


  • There are some foods I can’t throw in my bin.  This is one of the easiest questions to answer.  Your waste contractor will give you a full list of what can be disposed of via your particular service.  As long as you follow the list then contamination will not be an issue.


  • I will need to send my animal by products separately.  This is not always true.  With some disposal routes you will be able to use the same bin for organic food and animal by product.  Your waste collector will give you additional guidance on bones and egg shells.


  • Food waste collections do not accommodate liquids.  Not so.  For example, think of anaerobic digestion as a stomach.  That stomach will require a balanced diet.  This includes a good mix of food types and also plenty of liquids to help with the process.


  • My staff will waste time removing packaging.  Many plants will have de-packaging machines which will remove primary and some secondary packaging.  The only exception to this is glass where manual labour will be required.


  • There’s no financial benefit.  Aside from the decrease in costs your waste contractor will be able to calculate the difference between having a food waste collection and not having one.  And in some cases, their IT systems will also be able to give you an estimated carbon saving.


If you think a food waste service can benefit your business, start with your current contractor.  Talk to them about what you would like to do and they will advise you.  You could also talk to your trade association who would be able to draw on experiences from other members, and there are also other organisations which can help, such as; WRAP and ADBA.


To install a food waste service is very simple.  Your waste contractor will provide the bins, design the collection schedule and advise you on which waste types go where.  You will save money and increase your environmental credentials in the process.  All by adding one more waste stream.  No hassle at all!


Specialist Waste Recycling (SWR) provides total waste management solutions for clients across the UK. In March 2015 SWR acquired RUR3 Environmental, the award-winning consultancy and feedstock management business to deliver nationwide cost effective solutions specifically for food waste recycling.


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