Sheffield Council and Veolia to launch food waste trial

Sheffield Council and Veolia have together announced the commencement of the city’s first food waste collection trial, set for the end of August.

food waste caddy

Over the course of 12 weeks, 8,200 households across four locations, including parts of Meersbrook, Woodseats, Burnross, Ecclesfield, Arbourthorne, and Darnall, will see weekly food waste collections alongside their usual recycling services.

Each household taking part in the trial will receive an outside food waste bin, a five-litre kitchen caddy, and a roll of 52 biodegradable liner bags. Throughout the week, food waste can be collected in their smaller kitchen caddy, before being transferred into the larger outside bin for collection.

The trial aims to address the high levels of food waste collected across the city, with 33 per cent of Sheffield’s residual waste bins containing food waste, according to 2019 sampling. Further, separate food waste collection will reduce carbon dioxide emissions from thrown away food, contributing to the council’s objective to become net-zero by 2030.

Approved in June by the council’s Waste and Street Scene Policy committee, the trial follows the establishment of The Environment Act in November 2021, which obligates councils to collect food waste separately to general household waste each week. A date for this requirement has yet to be determined, with initial proposals pointing to 2013, yet recent suggestions see a delay to 2025.

As the trial commences, the partnership aims to learn how many households will recycle their food waste, and how much food waste is likely to be collected in Sheffield. The areas in which the trial will be rolled out have been chosen to represent a range of socio-demographic groups, which evidence from other councils already collecting food waste suggests impacts rates of collection.

On the week commencing 1 August, participants will receive a pre-launch leaflet detailing the purposes of the trial and how it can be used. The outside bin, kitchen caddy, and bin liners will then be delivered between 15 and 26 August, in anticipation of the first collection on 29 August.

Once collected, food waste will be taken to anaerobic digestion facilities in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire where it will be recycled into biofuel and nutrient-rich fertiliser and soil improver to be used in farming.

At the end of the trial, participants will be asked to give feedback on the service, which will be used to develop a strong collection service as it is introduced city-wide.

Councillor Joe Otten, Chair of the Waste and Street Scene Policy Committee at Sheffield City Council said: “Food waste recycling is something I have been calling for for many years, with its potential to make a big difference to our greenhouse gas emissions and reduce our black bin waste.

“The trial will help us understand more about food waste collections locally and realise the scale of the benefits, both economically and environmentally. I’m very pleased to bring in this trial which will help us prepare for the full roll out which we are expecting to soon be a requirement outlined in the Environment Act.”

In July, a report from InSinkErator, a food waste disposal and hot water tap manufacturer, shared that 40 per cent of England’s household waste was sent for reuse, recycling, or composting in 2020/21, with over half of the country’s councils seeing a drop in their rates. The body credits inconsistencies in food waste collection, with only a third of councils providing separate services, for the lack of improvement.

Despite this, a report from the Capgemini Research Institute a month previously expresses how ‘consumer consciousness around food waste has more than doubled in two years.’ It recognised rising food prices, supply chain challenges, the pandemic, and sustainability concerns as motivations for the shift.

Other areas are pushing efforts to increase household food waste collection, with The Surrey Environment Partnership (SEP) launching a campaign to link resident behaviour around recycling to its impact on the planet, the first phase of which focuses on food waste reduction. 

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