It is startling to know that it takes almost 30% of the worlds agricultural land to grow food that is ultimately wasted! With the global population increasing inexorably we all have a responsibility to waste less food. It is no surprise then that there are many policies at a national, EU and global level that address this and related issues
This concept is centred around the effective reuse or recycling of materials thereby avoiding the traditional linear approach of make, use, dispose. The UK and the EU have embraced the concept of circularity in many ways. In 2017 the EU published it’s Circular Economy package of measures and the UK Government are seeking ways to incorporate these measures into UK regulation.
How does waste food fit in to the Circular Economy? Well if it is collected by ECO and treated at designated SD plants then it becomes the feedstock for the creation of renewable power. This power is reused by some of our customers to power their restaurants, hotels or offices. Furthermore, the liquid fertiliser from the process goes into agriculture to grow crops that are used to make food therefore completing the circle from waste food to new food!
In the UK the Government has a target of 50% of all household waste being recycled by 2020. This is an EU target that will continue to be relevant post-Brexit. In 2017 the recycling rate in England declined for the first time to 44%. Only 45% of local authorities across the UK offer separate food waste collections. In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland food waste must be collected separately and treated through AD plants. Although this isn’t the case yet in England it can only be a matter of time before this happens. When it does, as is the case elsewhere in the UK, anyone producing waste food will be obliged to segregate it away from other waste streams. Failure to do so will result in stiff fines, in Scotland for example anything up to £10,000.
The EU Waste Framework Directive enshrined the notion of a waste hierarchy. It has been adopted into UK law and it means that where reasonably practicable waste must be manged as high as possible up the hierarchy. For food waste this once again means taking the waste food we collect to AD plants ahead of all other options. It is the food waste producers responsibility to ensure that the waste hierarchy is followed and this is reflected in the duty of care waste transfer note that accompanies all waste collections from businesses around the UK.