The Chilled Food Association (CFA) is conducting a major new piece of research designed to help manufacturers reduce biodegradable waste in the face of rising landfill costs.
While an 11th-hour change to the animal by-products regulation meant that cooked meats and other food waste were now exempt from the regulation and will still be allowed to go into landfill from January 2006, the cost would nevertheless rise dramatically in the next couple of years, warned the CFA's secretary general Kaarin Goodburn.
"When the landfill directive comes into force in 2007, all biodegradable waste will have to undergo pre-treatment before going to landfill, which, coupled with the landfill tax escalator, will change the economics of waste disposal," she said. "The ideal solution is to produce less waste in the first place. We're looking at eight companies producing sandwiches and ready meals and highlighting the key danger points, from forecasting inaccuracy, to spoilage, damages, poor raw materials purchasing, and production planning and packaging problems."
Manufacturers had spent large sums in looking at alternatives to landfill before lobbying from retailers secured a last-minute exemption for a clutch of foods, said Goodburn.
"All this work hasn't gone to waste. At some point we will reach the crossover when greener alternatives are cheaper than throwing away. These companies will have a head start."