London councils put under pressure to improve food waste services

The front page of the Bio Collectors 'Tackling London's Food Waste' report
A new food waste campaign has been launched to ‘put pressure’ on London councils to reduce the amount of waste sent for landfill disposal by increasing and improving food waste recycling services across the city.

The Just AD Food campaign was launched last week with the release of the ‘Tackling London’s Food Waste’ report, which has been published by Bio Collectors, a London-based food waste collection and recycling company.

In the report, which highlights food waste issues in London and calls for the use of better waste collection and disposal methods to improve recycling rates in the city, Bio Collectors states that only 18 of the 33 London boroughs have facilities for collecting separate food waste, which it says is then often sent for incineration or to landfill.

The company says that with landfill sites filling up and anaerobic digestion (AD) plants in the UK only operating at 50 per cent capacity, more could be done with the 890,000 tonnes of food waste produced in London. Doing so, it contends, would also help increase the recycling rate that is currently plateaued at around 33-34 per cent.

According to Recycle for London, an organisation which aims to promote reduction, reuse and recycling, people throw away up to £200-worth of food on average every year. The disposal of such waste in London reportedly costs authorities more than £50 million per year and generates around 2.1 million tonnes of CO2.

Bio Collectors believes food waste separation should be made a priority for councils, as legally it cannot be sent to landfill if its been separated, and should be sent for AD, the ‘most cost-effective disposal method’ for food waste.

The campaign suggests that the introduction of separate collection services by councils in London would help reduce the amount of food waste sent to landfill and the UK’s £19 billion a year disposal cost bill.

Key objectives for reducing food waste

The four key objectives of the Just AD Food campaign are:

  • to put pressure on all London councils to conduct separate food waste collections and send waste to AD plants;
  • to encourage London-based restaurants and retailers to take responsibility for the environment and chose a local AD plant to process food waste;
  • to ensure that food waste that is recycled isn’t transported great distances to be processed and instead is processed locally; and
  • to ensure London’s AD plants operate at full capacity before any food waste is transported out of the capital.

'Making a long lasting difference'

Commenting after the report’s launch, Paul Killoughery, Managing Director of Bio Collectors, said: “Following our research into London’s food waste, our Just AD Food campaign aims to encourage London businesses to recycle more of their food waste. Our ambition is to put pressure on local authorities and decision makers who are still sending food waste to incineration plants or landfill, when it could be recycled responsibly, reducing the negative impact on the environment.

“The focus of shopping locally and eating locally sourced food should extend to how we deal with our food waste. This would then feed into the circular economy of food that travels from farm to fork, then back to farm.

“With the launch of our campaign, we have identified the four major barriers to the improvement of food waste disposal standards in London. Drawing attention to them via this report and through the campaign will hopefully mark the first step towards making a long-lasting difference.”

A big week for action on food waste

The Bio Collectors report follows on from other recent food waste campaigns such as the ‘New Leaf’ campaign launched by Hubbub and the North London Waste Authority (NLWA). The salad waste campaign was launched last week after reports that Londoners throw away £1 million bags of salad during the summer months.

Meanwhile, the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) also joined in with the launch of its national Food Waste Recycling Action Plan. The industry-designed plan has been set up to increase the quantity and quality of food waste that is collected and recycled from the 10 million tonnes of food that is wasted in the UK after leaving the farm every year.

The action plan lays out 16 actions, which have been grouped into five themes to allow the food waste recycling industry to increase its potential. According to the plan, anaerobic digestion and composting capacity should be maximised and increasing the volume of food waste recycled is ‘vital’ for industry.

For more information read the ‘Tackling London’s Food Waste’ report.

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