What are the different types of food waste?
- Solid and liquid food by-products from agriculture, the manufacturing process or food and drink processing.
- Un-saleable food that’s out of date (from shops and supermarkets).
- Leftover food from restaurants and food preparation waste.
- and packaged food waste.
Food waste disposal
What are the legal obligations for food waste disposal?
Organisations must remove food waste from areas where fresh food is present as quickly as possible to avoid cross-contamination.
Food waste must be disposed of in containers that can be sealed shut, are made of appropriately robust material, are kept in good condition, and are easy to clean and disinfect.
You must also have adequate facilities for keeping and disposing of food waste, as well as other rubbish.
Waste stores need to be well designed and managed to keep them clean and free from animals and pests.
When finally disposing of food waste, it must be done in a hygienic and environmentally friendly way, in accordance with your local authority’s rules about the way certain types of food waste must be collected and disposed of.
Enforced by your local food inspectors, there must be no signs of contamination from waste to food preparation.
Food waste bins
What bins should be used for food waste?
Under the FSA’s rules, food waste should be disposed of in a durable, easy to clean bin that’s ideally colour coded and sealable to avoid pests, cross-contamination with active food preparation areas and spillages. We will supply the right food waste bins to make sure you comply with the regulations.
As you might expect, we have a wide range of wheelie bins available, ranging from 120-litres to a more substantial 660-litre unit. These units are all compliant with regulations that food waste must be placed in bins that can be sealed (cleaning up after a fox has been through your bins is never a pleasant experience), easily cleaned, and colour-coded to clearly signify its purpose. These bins are complimentary and you, as a business owner, will only have to pay for the collection.
What type of bin do you need for food waste?
Food Waste Collection
How do you dispose of food waste?
However carefully you prepare and serve food – and whatever the setting, occasion, or location – there will always be food waste. Disposing of food waste in a sustainable and hygienic manner can be problematic if businesses are unsure of the choices available. There are four main methods to dispose of food safely – composting, pump and vacuum systems, food waste dewatering systems, and anaerobic digestion.
Discover more about how each method for disposing of food waste works:
What is anaerobic digestion?
Anaerobic means without needing oxygen while digestion refers to the consumption and processing of food to create nutrients. This helps to understand anaerobic food digesters and also goes some way to showing why these food disposal plants are sometimes called ‘concrete cows’
How does anaerobic digestion work?
They are referred to as ‘concrete cows’ because they work in a remarkably similar way to a cow’s stomach. Waste food is sorted and shredded, removing any packaging materials that might have been caught up with it. A little liquid is added at this point, often waste liquids from food manufacturers, to mix the food matter into a kind of ‘soup’. This is the ‘mouth process’ of the concrete cow.
Moved along to the ‘stomach’, the soup is gently warmed to promote the growth of the anaerobic bacteria and stirred to prevent a crust forming. Then it is left for upwards of sixty days while the bacteria do their job, breaking down the food particles and producing rich methane biogas which can usually be used to power the digester after its initial start. Any surplus gas can be fed into the National Grid or used for other purposes that currently use fossil fuels.
Aside from the gas, the process produces rich fertiliser which can be used on crops to improve harvest and enrich the soil.
What are food waste dewatering systems?
Even fairly dry things can hold a fair amount of water, and food tends to be moist rather than otherwise. Removing as much water from the waste can reduce its bulk and weight by up to as much as 80%.
How do food waste dewatering systems work?
Waste food is gathered and ground into small even pieces, and it is then fed into a long threaded tube out of which liquid can escape but food solids are retained. The screw is then turned, pushing the food particles along into an ever-smaller block, squeezing out as much of the water as the machine is able to. The resulting blocks are smaller and lighter, needing less energy and expense to be transported elsewhere. These blocks of food waste can then be used in cattle feed or converted to biofuels, while the water can be purified and returned to the water system of the area.
What are pump and vacuum systems?
Commercial kitchens need to be kept immaculate at all times, but food waste can be a critical control point fail. Old food, peels, inedible parts of meals (bones and gristle, for example) and expired items need to be disposed of, which generally means keeping this unwanted food in the premises for some time, until shift change or the end of the working day. Pump and vacuum systems whisk old food and debris out of the kitchen using a vacuum-sealed pump system to carry it into a sealed container. This keeps the old food from attracting flies and rats and has the disposed-of foods ready to go when the waste collection service arrives, so there’s no need to remember to put bins out.
How do pump and vacuum systems work?
Each pump and vacuum system is installed to be sympathetic to the kitchen in which it is installed, with the collection container stored in an appropriate place. It is best to have this sort of system installed when the kitchen is being overhauled with access points at appropriate places, that is to say, where the food is prepared and where plates would be scraped and perhaps other points around the kitchen flow where food might be disposed of. Once the system is in place, the kitchen workers simply put the food into the access point, much as they would into a bin, and the vacuum system pumps it through to the collection tank. These systems tend to be self-cleaning, washing themselves out on a regular basis, using detergents that would commonly be found in a commercial kitchen. The cleaning cycles can be adjusted to cope with increased or decreased disposal amounts according to the needs of the kitchen.
What is on-site food composting?
Perhaps the most eco-friendly method of food disposal, composting is also one of the oldest methods of food disposal and recycling that we know. It consists, very simply, of allowing food to decompose naturally, and then using the results of that process as a fertiliser for current food crops. It is perhaps the most sustainable method of food disposal.
How does on-site food composting work?
Composting is something of a science, needing more than just foods to be used. Newspaper or discarded brown paper or torn up cardboard is vital to balancing the acidity and heat of the compost, soil containing the micro-organisms responsible for the decay of the foods, and air are all necessary to this process. Unlike anaerobic digestion, where no oxygen is needed, this is an aerobic process, needing air. The compost must also have a good balance of water, not enough and the micro-organisms will not flourish, too much and they will drown and the decomposition process will go wrong, producing mould and mildew which is not ideal. In order to circulate enough air and encourage a rapid composting process, the food and paper or wood chips should be alternated, each with a layer of soil in between, and the whole heap should be carefully turned every other day. In optimum conditions, the composting process can be completed within just a few weeks and the result will be a rich and nourishing fertiliser that can be used on flower beds, vegetable gardens and in planters.
For expert food waste disposal services contact us today.
How much food waste is recycled in the UK?
Food waste, quite simply, refers to the food or food products that are thrown away as opposed to being consumed. Food waste occurs for a variety of reasons – perhaps the food has gone out of date or you simply purchased too much. However, improper disposal of food waste, particularly from large businesses, has massive implications on the environment.
In the UK alone, we produce around 10 million tones of food waste annually, but only 1.8 million of this waste is recycled. Food waste can be recycled in two different forms – through composting or AD waste management. AD waste management refers to a process where food products are broken down due to the absence of light and oxygen.
Why is food waste bad for the environment?
The environmental impact of food waste is widespread and massive, with dangerous implications moving forward. To begin with, the food industry is a huge player in regards to pollution – food storage, production, cooking and distributing releases a large amount of greenhouse gasses. Therefore, once food is purchased, we have an extra responsibility to ensure that it does not go to waste.
Food waste is typically sent to landfill, where it will rot away. However, rotten food and waste produce methane – a large contributor to yet more greenhouse gasses. Greenhouse gas emission is partly to blame for the destruction of our ozone layer.
Therefore, not only is food waste socially irresponsible (when we consider the number of people in the world who go without regular meals and food), but also incredibly harmful to the environment.
How long does food waste take to decompose?
As mentioned previously, food waste, when sent to landfill, will slowly decompose. The rate of decomposition varies greatly depending upon the size and weight of the product, but it takes much longer than you would expect. For example, according to a study by Agrivert, a simple orange peel will take around 6 months to decompose. When you consider the relative size of an orange peel in comparison to the huge piles of waste often found at landfills, you can gain a better understanding of this problem.
What are the benefits of not wasting food?
There are numerous benefits of not wasting food. Firstly, by finding a way to properly dispose of any food waste, you are playing your part in helping protect the environment for future generations. It has been said that the damage to our planet is nearing the point of no return, but if both businesses and individuals begin to enact change, we can help reverse some of the damage that has already been done. Furthermore, minimising food waste can help solve issues with overproduction.
Food waste management
What are the 5 steps to reduce food waste?
- 1) Smarter purchasing. Ensure you only purchase the necessary amount of products for yourself/your business. Although customer consumption can be difficult to manage, try and keep track of what products sell and when, and purchase accordingly. Only buying what is necessary can help reduce food waste significantly.
2) Check use-by dates before you buy. When purchasing fresh food, make sure you check the use-by dates to ensure you have enough time to use them. Remember, best before dates are only a guideline; it’s about quality, not safety. Most food that is past its use-by date will still be safe to eat, it may simply not be at its best.
3) Consider donating your leftovers. If you have any food waste leftover at the end of the working day that won’t keep until the next day, consider donating it. There are many food banks and charities that would happily take donations. Or, if you still need to earn money from the produce, there are many eco-conscious individuals who purchase products directly from businesses to help minimise food waste.
4) Freeze! Remember plenty of fresh products, including fruit and veg, can be frozen after purchase. Freezing products, especially when purchased in large quantities, can help reduce food waste as they last for much longer.
5) Compost/recycle. If food waste is inevitable, be sure to dispose of it properly.
What are the steps to be followed for good food waste management?
As mentioned previously, there are two types of waste management. Composting and AD waste management. If you opt for AD waste management, there are various companies online that will collect the rubbish and recycle it on your behalf. The same goes for composting, however, you can also make use of your compost yourself! For example, it is a great tool in gardening!
How we can stop wasting food?
Perhaps the most vital tool in ensuring we limit our food waste is education. Many people are simply misinformed about the dangers and implications of large scale food waste. While in recent years, the general public has become increasingly more informed about the values of recycling (with nearly every home now having a recycling bin), food waste seems to have been left out of the conversation. Therefore, it is important that we find a way in which we convey this message to the general public, particularly business owners with lots of surplus products or ingredients.
For other ways to reduce food waste, see the above list with some top tips that you can apply to your everyday routine!
Why is food wastage a problem?
To put it simply, food waste is a problem because it is continually harming our environment. As stated previously, food production itself is one of the main contributors to environmental damage, so as consumers, we have a social responsibility to minimise the negative effects food waste can have. Thankfully, the problem is one that can be easily resolved by recycling and composting regularly, as opposed to allowing rubbish to be taken to a landfill site.
How many restaurants have a dedicated food waste collection?
The UK has a long way to go in reducing commercial food waste, recently we conducted an in-house survey to our own customer base and took at random 3000 customers in the restaurant, pub(that serve food), cafe and takeaway trade and identified that only 7% of restaurants have a dedicated commercial food collection. Companys who did have food waste collection bin were generally only found in the larger restaurants, and sadly hardly any pubs (that serve food) or takeaways had a food waste bin. We aim to change that by educating the importance of food waste collections and campaigning for government support to combat the millions of tons sent to landfill each year and divert that negative waste to become positive by using anaerobic digestion.