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ESA concern at Scottish food waste contamination

food waste

Disagreement between the industry and Scottish regulators about food waste collections is continuing, with the Environmental Services Association (ESA) expanding on its concerns over the Scottish approach.

At an environment committee (Efra) debate in Westminster earlier this month, ESA executive director Jacob Hayler criticised the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) for its mandatory requirement on businesses to have food waste collected separately.

Sepa later defended implementation of the law, which applies to companies producing more than 5kg of food waste a week, saying around two-thirds of businesses were already fully compliant, with about 80% “making some efforts” to separate material.

In response to the Efra committee’s call for further information, the ESA has expanded on its concern, saying levels of contamination have increased since separate collection became mandatory.

“Food waste producers are now compelled to arrange separate collection of food waste, whether they like it or not, and a recycling culture is often less prevalent compared with companies that had previously voluntarily opted in for such a service,” it says.

The regulation’s rural postcode exemption is “too widely defined”, it adds, and can affect the efficiency of food waste collection routes.

“An appropriately designed technically, environmentally, economically practicable (TEEP) exemption could be a more effective alternative approach,” the ESA suggests.

The body also questions the benefit of food being sent to anaerobic digestion (AD) plants rather than energy-from-waste (EfW) facilities.

It says: “The Government greenhouse gas conversation factors for food waste treated by AD and EfW are the same at 21kg CO2 equivalent per tonne.

“This means there is a saving of almost two-thirds of a tonne of CO2e from diverting food waste from landfill to either AD or EfW, but little further greenhouse gas benefit from switching between the two treatment options.”

But it does say the requirements have been positive ”in many ways” and have led waste operators to invest in new infrastructure.

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