Waste Watch

WITH FOOD waste apparently now costing the global economy £475 billion (see WasteWatch October), and the food retail chain in the UK about £950 a tonne (see page 22 of November issue), preventing it has become big business – even for small firms.


Take the JellyPickleJam vintage tea shop in Evesham, Worcestershire. Its owner, Lisa Whelan, has launched a “community crop scheme” which will see her harvest unwanted fruit left on residents’ trees and turn it into products. Households can have their name on the product, receive freebies or donate a percentage of the proceeds to a local charity.


Recent research showed that nearly 95% of consumers have some kind of loyalty card. However, technology has enabled shoppers to become more promiscuous than ever, with many cheating on their favourite retailers by shopping online at competitors, and sometimes even when they’re in the store. But one company has come up with a novel approach to use its environmental commitment to encourage loyalty. Sex toy retailer Lovehoney launched its “Rabbit Amnesty” campaign four years ago, offering shoppers rewards and discounts for sending back their old sex toys as regulations on old electrical equipment tightened. And they’ve been recycling like rabbits ever since; so much so that the company now takes other electrical equipment such as toasters.


She sells seashells … to water companies to treat waste. Scientists at Bath University have suggested that seashells left over from restaurants, hotels and other foodservice outlets could be used by water companies. Traditional wastewater treatment takes three stages, the last of which – “polishing” – removes unwanted substances such as hormones, pharmaceuticals or fertilisers. There are different methods for this tertiary treatment, and one of the most effective is the photocatalysis of water to remove any trace contaminants. This process normally uses titanium dioxide, which is expensive. By replacing this with a material called hydroxyapatite, made from the calcium in seashells, the researchers are aiming to significantly reduce the cost of water treatment by reusing a renewable and otherwise unwanted waste product. “Our study has shown that the hydroxyapatite formed from them is an effective, green and potentially cost-efficient alternative photocatalyst for waste water treatment,” explained Darrell Patterson from the university’s department of chemical engineering.