Recycling all food waste could save the UK £3.7bn

By Matt Atherton

- Last updated on GMT

The UK could save £3.7bn by recycling food waste, instead of sending it to landfill
The UK could save £3.7bn by recycling food waste, instead of sending it to landfill

Related tags Food waste Recycling Anaerobic digestion Waste management

The UK could save £3.7bn by using food waste sent to landfill for renewable biofertiliser, claimed a food waste expert, after figures last month confirmed domestic food waste alone topped 7.3Mt.

Food manufacturers should recycle unavoidable food waste – products that were spoiled in the manufacturing process – claimed food waste disposal and waste management service ReFood commercial director Philip Simpson. Recycled food waste could be used to create renewable and sustainable biofertiliser, which was an “extremely valuable resource”​, he said.

“Although immediate action is already being undertaken to reduce the volume of food wasted by the industry, there will always be a small percentage that cannot be eliminated,”​ said Simpson. “This is where anaerobic digestion must be prioritised.

‘Make great strides’

“By doing so, we can make great strides towards eliminating food waste to landfill and help reach UK renewable energy targets.”

If we achieved zero food waste to landfill nationwide, we could generate 1.1 terrawatts (tW) of energy by 2020 – enough to power 102,000 homes for an hour – Simpson said. About 27M fewer tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions would be generated, and there would be a huge economic benefit for the public sector, he added.

Simpson urged the entire food industry to work together in reducing food waste.

‘Significant economic and environment benefits’

“If we can encourage further activity to minimise waste and generate greater buy-in from across the food distribution industry, it will be possible to help alleviate the food waste crisis, while also recognising significant economic and environmental benefits,” ​he said.

Simpson’s call for action came after household food waste reduction targets had been missed​ under the Courtauld Commitment 3 – a voluntary agreement aimed at improving resource efficiency and reducing waste within the UK grocery sector.

The findings from the Waste Resources & Action Programme (WRAP) showed domestic food waste had risen 4.4% between 2012 and 2015, despite a target to cut waste by 5% before 2016. In 2015, £13bn of edible food was sent to landfill, the results showed.

WRAP food waste results – at a glance

  • UK food waste up 4.4% between 2012 and 2015
  • More than 7.3Mt of food waste arose in 2015
  • £700 of food wasted annually on average, per family

Related topics Hygiene, safety & cleaning

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