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Food collections 'are cost-effective'

Nina skorupska

Separate collections of food waste are generally better value for local authorities and businesses, and making them mandatory would be more effective than relying on market forces, a report has concluded.

The report was commissioned by the Renewable Energy Association (REA), which claims that separate collections would also lead to fewer and lighter residual collections, lower landfill tax costs and cheaper gate fees at anaerobic digestion (AD) plants.

Other benefits include reduced greenhouse gas emissions from landfill and advantages from the AD industry’s expected growth in capacity.

The Real Economic Benefit of Separate Biowaste Collections, sponsored by food waste collector Olleco and written by Dominic Hogg, Peter Jones and Sophie Crosswell of Eunomia Consulting, was launched at a parliamentary reception in London. It is part of a larger campaign, led by the REA, for UK-wide separate food waste collections.

We are convinced that the economic case for mandatory separation of food waste is as strong as the environmental one

Fergus Healy, Olleco


The report concludes that, based on WRAP data, a move to weekly separate food waste collections and fortnightly residual waste consistently leads to savings of £10-£20 per household per year.

For councils that already provide fortnightly residual collections, the report suggests that removing food waste from the stream could allow them to reduce the frequency of these collections even further.

For the commercial sector, the researchers considered four business examples and concluded that:

  • requiring food businesses to take up separate collections will increase the efficiency of food waste collection services, bringing down the costs and improving the business case for all food waste producers to take up separate collections
  • under a mandatory separate collection system, a business that produces around 500kg of food waste a week will save more than £900 a year compared with the expected cost of residual waste collections, based on approaches to pricing already widely used in the market
  • within a system that uses pay-by-weight pricing, even small food producers will make savings by introducing separate food waste collections
  • there is evidence that separating food waste will help to increase and improve dry recycling
  • market forces alone will not be as fast or effective in producing these benefits compared with Government intervention 

REA chief executive Dr Nina Skorupska (pictured) said: “Many regions, including Scotland, Wales and parts of Europe, have realised the benefits of not letting food waste go to waste. There is a range of companies now in the UK that are producing their own renewable heat and power from it, or even fuelling vehicles with it.

”With our 2020 recycling target fast approaching, now is the time for England to step forward, where few businesses and only about half of local authorities are enjoying the benefits from collecting biowaste separately.”

Olleco food waste and AD director Fergus Healy said: “We throw a shocking amount of food waste into landfill simply because we haven’t collected and treated it separately. We are convinced that the economic case for mandatory separation of food waste is as strong as the environmental one.

”We believe that the collection and separate treatment of food waste will play a significant part in helping the UK to achieve its 2020 recycling targets.”

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