Election 2015

Waste firm calls for food waste crack down

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

UK commercial food waste amounts to 7Mt a year, says BigGreen.co.uk
UK commercial food waste amounts to 7Mt a year, says BigGreen.co.uk

Related tags Food waste Waste management Anaerobic digestion Recycling

The new government should make recycling compulsory under law as Britain’s increasingly full landfill sites reach crisis point, according to one waste management business.

“While it’s certainly possible for companies and organisations to recycle food waste, far too many just don't bother,” ​said Mark Hall, spokesman for BigGreen.co.uk company. “And that’s why whatever shade of government emerges from May's election should consider new laws for their first Queen’s Speech.”

Hall pointed to new regulations in the US state of California which came into force last year. California’s massive economy was comparable in size to Britain’s, and Assembly Bill 1826 required all commercial generators of food waste to have it composted or transformed to energy via anaerobic digestion, argued Hall.

All companies and organisations had to do was to make an arrangement with their current waste management company to collect organic waste separately, he said. Most of those companies would even provide appropriate receptacles free-of-charge, and collect them frequently enough so that food waste is not left on the premises any longer than necessary, he added.

Anaerobic digestion

“Anaerobic digestion and composting are preferred outcomes for food waste, as rotting food left in landfill releases methane, which is one of the more damaging greenhouse gases,”​ said Hall.

He acknowledged the biggest obstacle to the California model was what one local official called the ‘knee-jerk reaction’ to new work practices.

Biggest food waste culprits, according to BigGreen.co.uk

  • Food processing industry
  • Waste from supermarkets and shops
  • Restaurants
  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Prisons and other institutions
  • Workplace cafeterias and canteens

While many people were great at recycling every last scrap of paper and empty drinks can, they were not so good at accepting they needed to do the same with food waste, he claimed.

“Most of the time, the general waste bin seems the most convenient place to dump unused food,”​ he said. “And now’s the time to change our mind-set when it comes to this – both in the home and in the workplace.”

Future legislation

Hall said companies should give serious consideration to improving their recycling regimes, even before being compelled to do so by future legislation. “It's the right thing to do and it will benefit both your company and your environment in the long term.”

While Scotland had taken steps to ensure businesses recycle their waste wherever possible, the rest of the UK was lagging far behind, the firm said. It argued it could be time to follow the California model where all producers of organic waste become responsible for their recycling.

“It’s a well-known statistic that British homes throw out 7Mt of food every year,”​ said BigGreen.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall. “But the shocking truth is that companies in the UK do exactly the same. Another 7Mt, and that is nothing but a national embarrassment.”

BigGreen.co.uk said there were long-running campaigns to encourage households to reduce their waste footprint through buying more sensibly and by composting their own waste. But it seemed many companies were still lagging behind and relying on landfill to dispose of unwanted food, it added.

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