Food Waste Stories

food waste landfill ban

Thursday 16th April 2015

With the country gearing up for the most uncertain general election in history all eyes are on the big parties’ policies as we decide which way to cast our votes.

A lot of big issues are being discussed, immigration, the NHS and austerity. It is becoming clear that environmental spending is not safe from the sweeping cuts we’ve all been experiencing.

A big issue, which is being overlooked by the big parties, is the future of waste (we prefer the word resource) management. A glaring omission from the manifestos of Labour and the Conservatives is a commitment to ban landfilling of food waste. In fact the only party to make any commitments in this area are the Green party, but even they have not set a date for when this ban would come into force.

Labour did make plans to ban the landfilling of food waste but backtracked when the Conservatives presented an analysis claiming the loss of revenue from landfill tax would be in the hundreds of millions.

It is clear that a more comprehensive analysis of the socio-economic impact of a ban is needed. Taking into account both the costs and benefits; Job creation, alternative energy production, greenhouse gas emission reduction, and a move towards circular economy values.

In a global context this is not new territory, New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Austria, Germany and Sweden have all introduced some level of food waste to landfill ban.

When questioned by Labour MP Chris Heaton-Harris DEFRA stated they have ruled out a ban, saying that it would add financial burden to businesses and local authorities. They add that the anaerobic digestion strategy and WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign have been effective at encouraging a shift away from using landfill and towards energy recovery or recycling. This is despite the fact that the most successful countries in terms of recycling rates are also the ones, which have instituted landfill bans.

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Roundtable: Scottish waste regs - one year on

Tuesday 3rd March 2015

A year ago, we hosted a roundtable discussion bringing people together from all sides of Scotland's new waste Regs. On 19th March 2015 we are hosting a follow-up discussion, uniting the Scottish waste sector. What are the biggest challenges? What's still to do? What useful lessons should we be sharing with the rest of the UK?

We are pleased to be joined by the key people from Zero Waste Scotland, SEPA, Edinburgh City Council Trade Waste, Levenseat IVC, Changeworks, Mitie CORE, Wm Tracey, Viridor, Growing Forth, REA ORG, and Biffa.

Scotland has been living with the new waste Regs for a year now. What does that mean in practice? All businesses are required by law to recycle the 5 key waste streams, but the big change is in food waste. 

All businesses that have anything to do with food need to introduce separate food waste recycling - currently if they produce over 50kg a week, but in January 2016 that reduces to 5kg per week - essentially any school, cafe, hospital or restaurant filling a caddy a week. Rural postcodes are exempt and NHS sites have until 2016 to comply, but the Regs have seen thousands of businesses changing over to introduce food waste recycling.

Our big aim has always been to drive best practice and encourage zero waste, and this top level industry event is no exception. We'll be sharing the day's conclusions - watch this space.

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new Scottish regs leading the way to zero waste

Monday 12th August 2013

Scottish businesses are the first in the UK to be required to recycle – including food waste.

As of the 1st of January 2014, all businesses in Scotland will be required to separate dry recyclables including glass, paper, cardboard, plastics and metal at source.

The new regs also require food businesses producing more than 5kg of food waste a week to introduce food waste recycling.

Food businesses producing more than 50kg of food waste a week be required to separate food waste for collection by 2014, while smaller businesses will have until 2016 to comply. Food businesses classed as ‘rural’ are exempt from the food waste legislation.

These regs aim to reduce the volumes of waste going to landfill and encourage Scots to see their waste as a resource. The 2012 regulations will prepare Scotland for the planned landfill ban of biodegradable waste in 2020.

The regulations being imposed in Scotland are groundbreaking and if enforced and regulated correctly, could see Scotland soar ahead of the rest of the UK in the waste management stakes. Perhaps the Scottish Government’s vision of a zero waste Scotland is closer to becoming a reality?

Further info on the regs: Zero Waste Scotland and SEPA.

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silent success of landfill tax

Monday 12th August 2013

Last year saw the first set of statistics for municipal waste where more waste was recycled than was landfilled. Underpinning this success is landfill tax – a policy instrument which has been a silent success story for the last 15 years.

Landfill tax was introduced in 1996 as an incentive to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. The tax was set very low at first – a mere £7 per tonne in 1996 (!) - but as of April 2014, landfill tax will reach a new minimum of £80 per tonne.

forcing businesses to save money

There is little doubt over the success that the tax on landfill has achieved. Since 2006, waste to landfill has plummeted by 37.5% - resulting in associated carbon emission savings in the region of 52,000 tonnes per year.

Not only has landfill tax addressed the environmental problem it set out to solve - but it is also responsible for huge increases in recycling. In 1996, prior to the establishment of landfill tax, UK recycling rates were 7% - a figure that now stands at 43%.

Landfill is now, without doubt, the most expensive destination for our rubbish. This means quite literally - businesses can no longer afford not to recycle. By putting a monetary value on waste, landfill tax has made waste reduction a priority for businesses encouraging more sustainable waste management.

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