Many businesses will be pausing to consider their environmental impact as the government announces mandatory separate food waste segregation for all businesses. The government passed the Environmental Act in 2021, which will come into effect later this year.
Although an official date is yet to be revealed, businesses will be required to separate food waste from their general waste and have it collected separately.
Why Has the Food Waste Legislation Been Introduced?
When food waste goes to landfill, it releases methane which is 25% more potent than CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere and therefore contributing to global warming.
The new legislation will support the government’s decision to halve food waste by 2030 as part of its commitment to sustainable development goals. This will enable a transition from a single-use, throwaway society to a more circular economy.
What Industries Will Be Affected By The Food Waste Legislation?
The new legislation will affect all businesses and sectors that generate food waste as part of their day-to-day processes. This may include:
- Sporting facilities
- Public institutions
How Will It Impact These Businesses?
It’s possible that waste segregation can have a positive effect on your costings. Generally, food waste is quite heavy so disposing of it among your general waste can increase costings. When separated, your general waste should be much lighter.
Segregated food waste, for instance, is up to five times cheaper to dispose of per kilo. Therefore, your general waste will not only be lighter, but overall cheaper to dispose of. A waste audit may be beneficial to help you itemise your outgoing waste so you can decide how to better manage your processes.
Participating in the Circular Economy
When waste is segregated, one novel solution could be to use composters which process all types of food and garden waste. This effectively transforms food waste into highly effective fertiliser which can then be used on lawns and other garden areas to help grow fresh fruit and vegetables in line with circular principles.
How Can Businesses Effectively Prepare?
Businesses should be proactive with their approach to food waste. Some tips to consider are:
- Separating food waste into a different bin for collection
- Avoiding landfill at all costs. Send to recycling through composting or anaerobic digestion instead
- Refraining from using macerators or liquidising digestors as these have now been banned completely.
The Food & Drink Waste Hierarchy
Businesses should look to follow the food and drink waste hierarchy as outlined by the government. This is an eight step compliance policy with one being best and eight worst. Options 1 to 4 provide guidance on how to prevent food waste while options 5 to 8 are required by law:
- Prevent surplus and waste in your business.
- Redistribute surplus food and drink.
- Make animal feed from former food.
- Process surplus food to make biomaterials.
- Recycle – anaerobic digestion and compostion.
- Recover waste by landspreading.
- Recover energy from waste.
- Dispose – send to sewer and landfill.
The introduction of these new food waste legislation will pose a challenge to businesses as they race against time to get their processes in order. However, if implemented correctly, could pave the way to a more sustainable, carbon-neutral future.
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