Whilst the debate on food recycling seems to be chugging a long at a steady pace, with more and more local authorities see the benefits of proper food waste management, in addition to central government.
However, the next battleground already seems to be in sight – and that’s what comes next for food waste packaging.
With zero waste to landfill as the goal, food waste packaging is the unwanted defender in the way. Often unsuitable for ‘regular’ recycling after being in contact with food, the packaging for products has to go in general waste.
Likewise, for areas with regular food waste collections, these containers aren’t always biodegradable, so would be unsuitable to go in food and garden waste, too.
Oxford City Council is one such local authority currently grappling with what to do when it comes to recycling food waste packaging. Council members are toying with nipping the issue in the bud in some senses, by voting on a proposal that will require street food traders to use only biodegradable or recyclable packaging and utensils/
A spokesman for Oxford City Council said: “The council’s general purposes licensing committee approved a proposed condition for food traders which requires all packaging and utensils for use by customers to be made of biodegradable or recyclable materials.
“The condition is intended to reduce the amount of commercial waste that goes to landfill.”
In the US, two pro-recycling and sustainability groups are reporting on what they call ‘post consumer’ packaging recycling, and have found that some of the bigger highstreet names are already ahead of the curve in this regard.
Starbucks and McDonalds in particular were singled out for praise, using as much as 30% post-consumer materials in their paper cups and sandwich packaging.
It seems, then, that businesses large enough capture food packaging at their premises would do well to target post-consumer usage for maximum efficiency.
However, looking at takeaways and street food, biodegradable packaging and wrapping could well have the largest impact on reducing how much waste ends up in landfill.