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WRAP gives separate food waste collections the thumbs up!

Councils that offer separate weekly food waste collections with fortnightly refuse collections achieve higher capture rates than authorities that do not offer that scheme, according to the Waste & Resources Action Programme.

Speaking at the MRW Food Waste Conference in London (27 October) WRAP local Government Services director Philip Ward discussed research that WRAP had carried out in June called Evaluation of the WRAP separate food waste collection trials.

He said WRAP has encouraged local authorities to provide their residents with separate food collections because they achieve higher capture rates than mixed food and garden waste schemes. Ward explained that high yields and participation rates tend to be consistent in schemes with fortnightly refuse collections.

However, he said if a council collected separate food waste with a weekly refuse collection you get less food out because people have an easy option to put their food in the waste bin.

Ward said people start off well with the system but drop back into bad habits.

He also said that the relationship between food waste and deprivation levels was a significant factor in the performance of food services.

Ward said: If you are richer you are more likely to throw away more food and if you are poorer you probably have less food to throw away.

He said the link between deprivation levels and food waste provided helpful information for councils when planning food waste services.

WRAP has recently set aside a budget of £3.5 million to support local authorities which want to start food waste collections between now and 2011 (see MRW story).

Ward said that interest had been vast and that it should add at least 350,000 households to regular food waste schemes.

WRAPs research has shown that when mixed food and garden waste schemes were combined together you get very little food and very high garden rates.

Ward said: I think the conclusion we are reaching about mixed food and garden waste collections is that we should see them as a useful interim step to start behaviour change for households.  We have to get them used to the idea that separating food waste from the kitchen is something that they do.

WRAP is also carrying out research into adding trade food waste to municipal food collections and the study will be published before the end of the financial year.

  • Approximately 148 local authorities in the UK offer food waste collections to their residents;
  • 70 UK authorities are collecting food and garden waste combined;
  • 78 UK authorities are operating food only services;
  • Separate food waste collections capture 2.5-3kg per household per week.

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