Biffa, the leading national recycling and waste management provider, is urging food businesses in England and Wales to do the right thing, with its new ‘Food for Fuel’ campaign encouraging businesses to pledge to segregate all quantities of inedible food waste.
Surprisingly, there is currently no legislation in England and Wales that makes recycling food waste mandatory for businesses, meaning that huge volumes of food waste are disposed of as residual waste, some of which ends up in landfill. Meanwhile in Scotland and Northern Ireland, businesses are obliged by law to segregate and dispose of food waste responsibly when producing quantities over 5kg.
By capturing and properly segregating inedible food waste, it can be sent to an Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plant, which converts it into a form of green energy which can be exported to the National Grid.
Despite this lack of regulation in England and Wales, Biffa is trying to help educate food producing businesses and encourage them to take responsibility to ensure all potential renewable energy is utilised by segregating 100% of inedible food waste, no matter what the size or weight.
The ‘Food for Fuel’ campaign was launched following research carried out by Biffa revealing that inedible food waste makes up 40% of the total food wastage in the UK, and yet 1/3 of food businesses admit to not doing anything to recycle it.
Edible food waste recycling often makes the headlines, prompting supermarket chains nationwide to partner with charities and dispose of food waste responsibly, but too often a lot of food waste is not disposed of effectively, resulting in a massive percentage of potential energy being thrown in the bin.
Biffa asked UK businesses about their waste management and discovered that 83% of food businesses - such as, caterers, restaurants, and hotels - think waste management is important but few have processes in place to manage their waste effectively – citing resources, time and costs to be the biggest challenges faced.
Businesses also often don’t realise that general waste is more expensive to dispose of, so separating food waste will help to lower the costs of waste disposal and save businesses money. The cost of food waste disposal can be as much as 70% cheaper than residual waste and so it makes economic sense to segregate food and arrange for it to be collected separately.
According to the research almost half of businesses in the UK were not aware of the cost savings available as result of segregating food waste.
Fran Morrissy, spokesperson for Biffa said: “We were pleased to find that the majority of businesses think waste management is important but were surprised that so many don’t have a process in place for effectively dealing with their waste. Inedible food waste in particular is often forgotten, despite it being such a huge percentage of waste that could be recycled and used to fuel our homes.”
Other key findings from the study showed that 60% of businesses don’t have recycling targets for their food waste and over half of businesses don’t have official training in waste management.
Fran continued: “Most people have multiple bins at home to separate their personal waste, and we believe it should be no different in the workplace. Biffa’s Food Waste Collection Service can help businesses to identify how much inedible food waste they’re producing and put a strategy in place to segregate it ready for collection – saving both money and creating clean energy.
“We encourage all business to embrace the ‘Food for Fuel’ concept and remember that 100% segregation is the best way to ensure they’re doing the most that they can to positively impact the environment.”