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Only 25 UK organisations offer separate food waste collections to SMEs

Only 25 organisations across England, Scotland and Wales offer separate food waste collections to small businesses, figures show.

According to a survey conducted by WRAP in March 2010, ongoing separate food waste collections were offered to SMEs by only:

  • Five community sector groups
  • 14 local authorities
  • Six private sector organisations

Seven other organisations had provided the service as part of a past trial.

According to WRAP’s Collecting Food Waste From Small Businesses and Schools report, the low level of service provision for separate food waste collections was thought to stem from a “range of linked factors”.

The report stated: “The reasons for this are likely to include basic economics of service provision (and what this might imply for customers’ bills), lack of knowledge regarding best approaches to collecting food waste, uncertainty regarding customer uptake of new services, lack of clear demand and the lack of local facilities for treating the collected food waste.”

According to the survey, the average customer base size for food waste collections to SMEs is 53, but actually ranges between four and more than 100 businesses.

Association for Organics Recycling managing director Jeremy Jacobs told MRW: “I would think the main reason for such a low offering is based on the high collection costs for small volumes of food waste over a widespread collection area. I know that having spoken to a number of our members which offer this service, the economics of running one are challenging.

 “In many instances, I suspect small businesses that could best make use of this service are unaware of their provision. But this will be aided by the growth of infrastructure, marketing this to a wider audience and the cost pressures of disposal to landfill as the escalator takes effect. Companies will start to examine alternative methods for finding outlets for their waste.”

Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association chief executive Charlotte Morton told MRW: “Source segregating organics is the best way to ensure we make the most of waste resources. There is huge untapped value in organic waste, both for energy production and returning nutrients to land in place of carbon-intensive artificial fertilisers.

“Through the Waste Review and AD Framework Document, the Government should set out a clear strategy that we need to separate organic waste and send it to anaerobic digestion, to ensure we make the most of it.”

According to Government figures, there are around 4.8 million small businesses in the UK.

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