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Don’t Waste Your Opportunity To Recycle Food Scraps

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Don’t Waste Your Opportunity To Recycle Food Scraps

October 21
20:07 2013
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Don’t Waste Your Opportunity To Recycle Food Scraps A report in September 2009 by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), entitled ‘The Food We Waste in Scotland’, found that Scottish households throw away 570,000 tonnes of food each year, which equates to £430 per household or nearly 1.8m tonnes of CO2; in other words, the same as taking one in four cars off the road. A few months later, WRAP commissioned a study on hospitality waste in the UK which was based on a compositional audit of food, drink and packaging waste generated from hotels, pubs and restaurants. Unsurprisingly, the catering and hospitality sector did not fare well in this report; if our households are discarding £1 billion-worth of food each year, it follows that the amounts being thrown out by our industry will inevitably be far higher. However, help is finally at hand in the form of Scottish Water Horizons (SWH). As the commercial subsidiary of Scottish Water, SWH has been a trailblazer for the recycling of garden waste and wood, and now they are focussing on the anaerobic disposal of food waste from businesses throughout Scotland.

Did you know that the most popular foodstuffs being jettisoned into domestic drains and landfill also feature prominently on hotel menus? Bread slices (£35 million a year); yoghurts and yoghurt drinks (£26 million a year); milk (£24 million a year) and – tragically – wine (£37 million a year) are all discarded in their multitudinous tonnes by businesses operating in the hospitality and catering industry. As a leader in food waste recycling, SWH is confident that this situation is all set to change. From early next year, businesses and organisations will be able to arrange collections of packaged and unpackaged food waste, which will then be sent off for recycling at Deerdykes, a specialist anaerobic digestion (AD) site near Cumbernauld. Itself ‘recycled’ in 2005 from a redundant waste-water treatment works into an award-winning garden-waste-and-wood recycling facility, Deerdykes is now equipped to convert a variety of solid and food wastes – including packaged food waste that is often hard to recycle – into usable green electricity and heat. Additionally, as the first commercial facility in the UK to combine anaerobic digestion and in-vessel composting technologies on the same site, Deerdykes also plays an important role in diverting organic waste away from landfill. Now on the verge of launching its bespoke food-waste collection service in the Glasgow and Edinburgh areas, Scottish Water Horizons will use a newly converted, state-of-the-art refuse truck which has been specially adapted – with funding from various sources including Zero Waste Scotland – for this purpose. After arranging to pick up a business’s food waste, the vehicle then transports it to the Deerdykes facility to be digested, treated and turned into slurry. Mike Hogg, Logistics Manager for SWH, explains how their new pick-up service will help food and hospitality businesses to save money whilst fulfilling their CSR obligations: ‘ The benefits to businesses are indisputable,’ he says. ‘With planned increases of £8 per tonne of active waste, landfill taxes are set to rise to £64 per tonne by April 2012, and will continue upwards every year until at least 2014. ‘Up until now, food waste has mainly come in bulk deliveries from larger commercial and industrial producers such as supermarkets and food manufacturers. However, now that we have invested in our own food-waste collection vehicle, we can offer this service for smaller producers such as hotels and restaurants.’ Meanwhile, the electricity generated by anaerobic digestion is currently being used to power the plant at Deerdykes, with any surplus units being fed to the National Grid and then delivered back to Scottish Water: ‘We are currently investigating various schemes to export the surplus heat and electricity we generate to local homes and businesses, and to create bio-methane for use as a sustainable vehicle fuel, and a nutrient-rich bio-fertiliser for use in agriculture,’ adds Mike. ‘Ultimately, we want to help companies to provide a better, more affordable and sustainable way of dealing with their food waste, and we believe this is the most effective way of achieving that. If businesses ignore the opportunities to lower their costs and do something positive with their food waste, in time they will probably find their costs have risen so much that it will become harder and harder to justify generating that amount of waste,’ he concludes. So, while food-waste segregation and recycling is still a new concept in the UK, there is evidently increasing pressure on businesses and local authorities to properly and responsibly deal with the problem, and it won’t be long before everyone is required to do their bit. With the proposed landfill ban of source-segregated food waste due to come into force in 2015, it has also been suggested that all waste sent to landfill will need to have a biodegradable content below a set threshold by 2017, and a total organic carbon content of less than three percent. As clients and customers seek to improve environmental credentials and take active measures to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, the onus will increasingly shift onto operators to deal with their food waste accordingly. That’s where the pressure will really start to mount – and that’s where Scottish Water Horizons is on hand to help.

www.scottishwater.co.uk

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