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Food Waste Recycling – what happens to your leftovers

The stages of food waste recycling

Filling our plates and enjoying food is the best way for it to be used but it’s inevitable that there will be some waste.

One way of saving money and reducing greenhouse gas emissions is by avoiding throwing out food that could have been eaten.

Food waste that is unavoidable includes Egg shells, banana skins and tea bags don’t sound appealing to the pallet and won’t feature on a menu anytime soon.

A great way to stop this sort of waste ending up landfill is by home composting, and your flower beds will love it. You can use your local food waste recycling collection service (if your area supplies this) to dispose of anything you can’t eat, or compost. It can be recycled into a good quality soil fertiliser and even generate electricity that can be fed back into the national grid.

Unwanted food facts

  • In the UK, Around 7 million tonnes of food is thrown away by families every year, and the majority of it could have been eaten.
  • The average family throws away around £700 of food shopping a year, this could pay a utility bill or even a holiday? Little by little all this waste adds up.
  • What once was perfectly good food makes up the majority of food waste, some of it is made up of things like peelings, cores and bones.
  • Throwing away food is also a huge waste of the energy, water and packaging used in its production, transportation and storage. The wasted food that ends up in landfill sites rots and releases a damaging methane. If we all avoided wasting the food, it would have the same CO2 impact as taking 1 in 4 cars off UK roads.

How is food recycled?

A lot of councils collect food waste recycling now. There are several ways food can be recycled, including:

  • In-vessel composting this is mixing the food waste and garden waste then shredding it and then composting it for two to four weeks in an enclosed system. Harmful mirobes are killed off as the composting reaches temperatures of up to 70°C which also speed up the process. This mixture is then left outside to mature for a further 1-3 months with frequent checks and turning to make sure quality is high before going on to be used as soil conditioner.
  •  Anaerobic Digestion uses microorganisms to break down animal manure, food waste, slurries and energy crops without oxygen, inside an enclosed system. The methane that it gives off as it breaks down is then collected and converted into biogas and this is then used to generate electricity, heat or transport fuels. It also creates a nutrient-rich digestate that can be used as a fertiliser for agriculture and in land regeneration.

Impact on the Environment

Wasting food costs an average family with children almost £60 a month. It has serious environmental implications too. We should all be conscious about reducing our food waste as it is not just about letting good food go to waste.

Throwing away food is a waste of resources. Just think about all the energy, water and packaging used in food production, transportation and storage. This all goes to waste when we throw away perfectly good food.

Cheese for example is a very wasteful food as it takes energy and resource to feed and milk the cows, transporting and keeping the milk cool, processing it in to cheese, packing, transportation to shops, keeping the right temperature at all times. If the cheese then gets thrown away it is likely to end up in a landfill site. Rather than harmlessly decomposing, it rots and actually releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

There are plenty of ways to make the most of your food and drink and avoid waste. For simple tips and recipes visit Love Food Hate Waste. You could also try to compost at home

  • Keeping a food waste caddy in your kitchen can help you separate your food for food waste recycling and composting. This can be emptied into either your compost bin or council food waste bin.
  • Your council may recommend that you line your food waste caddy with a liner bag which you can buy from your local supermarket, these are specially designed for food waste as they decompose or line it with newspaper.
  • Avoid keeping your food caddy in direct sunlight as this may start the process of decomposing in the heat, producing harmful gases in your home.

FindaSkip are dedicated to providing responsible waste management. Visit us for affordable skip hire quotes  or call us on 0800 019 4530