Is your food waste travelling further than it needs to?

STEPH DALTON from Specialist Waste Recycling talks about recent market changes which could reduce your waste management costs.

Foodservice Footprint Page-21 Is your food waste travelling further than it needs to? Comment Features  SWR Steph Dalton ABDA














The UK food and drink industry is definitely getting switched on to ensuring efficiency and sustainability through its waste management and recycling contracts. We are seeing more of a focus on the waste hierarchy and source segregation of waste streams than ever before, delivering cost savings and increased recycling levels as a result. But many are still missing a trick when it comes to food waste.


It seems that as soon as composting or anaerobic digestion is mentioned we glaze over with the fear of the unknown. As it happens, the UK is very well-equipped to collect and recycle food waste in exactly the same way as we do our cardboard or plastics. It really doesn’t need to be complicated and yet we don’t apply the same method to our waste food as we do our dry waste materials.


According to ADBA “only 12% of the estimated 15 million tonnes of UK food and drink waste is recycled through AD”.


In April 2015 landfill tax increased to £82.60 raising the total gate fee for landfill in the region of £100-plus. With the climbing cost of landfill it seems to be a no brainer for companies to move waste food up the waste hierarchy to a more environmentally friendly source separated collection. The saving on gate fees alone can be as much as 65%.


So the business case is clear for avoiding landfill but there’s something else to consider – how far is your food waste travelling to its end destination? Many waste contractors formed alliances with AD plants across the UK when these facilities were few and far between. They have continued to loyally deliver in their wares (food waste), regardless of proximity. The recent expansion in the AD market has meant that as an industry, waste collectors need to reassess their routes; there is no need for anyone’s food waste to travel long distances any more.


The answer for both food waste producers and contractors is as simple as going back to the basic principle of using local facilities and saving on high transport costs. In 2011 there were just 68 AD plants in the UK. As of October 2014 that number had risen to 184 and continues to increase[ii], therefore capacity is no longer an issue. Costs can be reduced further by moving waste a shorter distance in addition to the savings associated with diverting it from landfill.


In summary, with capacity being plentiful and evenly placed across the UK, there is no need for you to accept a route which is less than environmentally efficient. Use the same principles with food waste as you do with any other procurement exercise for waste services and be confident that really, the process is just the same.