Separate weekly collections are the most effective way of diverting food waste from landfill and it is best treated via anaerobic digestion (AD) according to the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP).
Bringing together those interested in setting up food waste collection schemes and those wanting to build AD facilities will be the next step, WRAP director for local government services Phillip Ward told MRW.
The best option is for food waste to go to AD - thats where you get the most environmental bang for your buck. There are limited facilities but WRAP is in the business of trying to support investment in AD. Theres a new challenge for us there and to help weve got a big pot of money, Ward said.
Last week WRAP launched two capital grant schemes: the Environmental Transformation Fund Anaerobic Digestion demonstration programme, to support innovative technology or business processes, and the Organics Capital Grant Programme (round VII), for processing capacity for source segregated food waste using proven technology.
While an AD processing network develops, Ward added that food waste collected could easily go for in-vessel composting (IVC).
Having completed food waste collection trials with 18 local authorities in England and one in Northern Ireland, WRAP said it now had the hard operational data to share with local authorities wishing to implement such schemes. The cost benefit analysis data is still being completed.
WRAP Rotate manager Linda Crichton said much of the cost would be dependent on the type of service profile a local authority had in place, but the cost of collecting food waste separately now compared more favourably to other disposal methods.
Those tempted to cut costs by collecting food and garden waste together were warned the method did not achieve the same yields of food waste and was a false economy. If you actually want to get food waste out of your waste stream it is absolutely clear that mixing it with garden waste does not do the trick. So, yes, it looks cheap, but it is cheap and ineffective, Ward said.
WRAP said its 18-month trials showed that given the correct tools and a good collection service, the public would participate in food waste schemes and these could remove about two-thirds of food waste from the residual waste stream. In addition, the material collected was proven to be of suitable quality for either AD or IVC reprocessors.
For guidance on separate food waste collections and information on funding please see the WRAP website. Communications templates for food waste schemes will soon be available on the Recycle Now website.