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TACKLING LONDON’S FOOD WASTE 2016


TACKLING LONDON’S FOOD WASTE 2016 CONTENTS Foreword 3 What happens to food waste?

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The UK’s food waste AD capacity

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The state of food waste disposal in London

8

The obstacles in London

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What’s happening elsewhere?

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What we need to do

14

Just AD Food

15

Thanks to: WRAP Chairman of the Local Government Association’s environment board Gary Porter Materials Recycling World magazine Eunomia Environment Agency RDF Industry Group Recycle for London, a campaign run by WRAP London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB), Love Food Hate Waste – a sister campaign run by WRAP The Eunomia Research & Consulting June 2014 AD market update report SITA UK Kerry McCarthy MP Resource London Materials Recycling World magazine Founder of Stop Wasting Food, Selina Judd

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TACKLING LONDON’S FOOD WASTE 2016

Bio Collectors 43 Willow Lane Mitcham CR4 4NA Tel: 0333 9009 333 www.biocollectors.com www.justadfood.co.uk


Foreword The phrase ‘out of sight, out of mind’ has never been truer than when it comes to food waste. There will always be a need to dispose of food and drink – but does anyone really give a second thought to where it goes once it hits the bin? Much has been done to raise awareness of the need to re-use and re-purpose food, so that we reduce the amount we throw away. However, the average person still throws away a whopping £200-worth of food each year, rising to £700 for families, according to Recycle for London. Disposing of London’s food waste costs our waste authorities more than £50m annually. Not only that, it generates approximately 2.1m tonnes of CO2 emissions. To put it into perspective – reducing this amount could remove the equivalent of one in four cars from London’s congested roads. Given the UK’s population of 64.1m, consumers are the biggest offenders when it comes to waste. However, commercial businesses, retailers and caterers all contribute to this growing problem that will see landfill at capacity by 2020 if something does not change. Supermarkets are responsible for two percent of waste, and while that may not seem a great deal, much of it could be avoided. The hospitality industry also contributes to the issue with 45 percent of food waste occurring during food preparation, 21 percent through spoilage and 34 percent that is left on customers’ plates, according to WRAP. Office catering is just another arm that is adding to the vast volumes of food waste we are producing. Everyone is aware that food waste is a problem. The next stage must ensure that everyone involved in the food chain, from farm to fork, is better educated on the consequences. But it shouldn’t stop there, we need to go beyond the fork to inform the nation on the impact of throwing away a tea bag or scrap bit of chicken meat. We need to be promoting the reasons why segregating waste is so important and tackling the conception that food waste is dirty and has no place in a home, office, hotel, or anywhere else for that matter. I would hazard a guess that the majority of the public and a large proportion of facilities managers and government officials do not know how much of London’s waste is sent to landfill or incinerated. The Mayor has set out ambitious targets to reduce the

amount sent to landfill and incineration, but how does he believe this will be achieved when some boroughs are locked into 20-plus year contracts that will see all its waste incinerated until 2027? Currently, just 18 of 33 London boroughs collect food waste separately. With food waste costing the UK more than £19bn a year (WRAP), as well as causing enormous damage to the environment, it is a problem that needs to be addressed. We have written this report to highlight what is already being done, and what more we can do to improve waste management in the capital. The key is separation. A little known fact outside of waste management is that if food and drink waste is collected separately from other general waste, it legally has to be recycled. It can’t be added to other waste and incinerated, it must be taken to a composting or anaerobic digestion facility, where it can be turned into a useful by-product. Most people are keen to reduce the amount of waste they create. It makes sense financially, ethically and from a sustainability point of view. Celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall are driving positive change in this area. Our aim is slightly different. We want people to throw away less, but we also want everyone in the UK to take notice of the impact of what happens when they do dispose of food. People can make a difference and I truly believe that if people were aware that their food and drink leftovers were going up in smoke they would be horrified. We all need to put pressure on the local authorities and business decision makers who are naively still sending food waste to incineration plants, or worse still to landfill. As well as raising awareness of these oft-buried issues, this report will launch our campaign: ‘Just AD Food’. We have identified four major barriers to the improvement in food waste disposal standards in London, which will be tackled in this campaign and are laid out in full towards the conclusion of this document. Hopefully, this report and ‘Just AD Food’ together, will represent a step towards making a long-lasting difference. Paul Killoughery Managing Director and Founder of Bio Collectors

Just AD Food As will be highlighted in this report, food segregation is essential when it comes to recycling food waste and we hope that this campaign will further raise awareness across the key sectors where change will be key. Read through until the end to learn about the campaign objectives in full.

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What happens to food waste? In the course of compiling this report, it became clear that a huge proportion of people involved in food waste collection and disposal simply do not know what happens to the waste after it leaves their premises. This includes the homeowners, businesses and consumers who produce waste. A common myth is that it all ends up in landfill. Over the last few years, the impact of sending waste to landfill has permeated the British consciousness and changes have been made at both high and low levels as a result. There are only so many landfill sites in the UK and they are starting to fill up. In 2010, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s environment board Gary Porter said we had just eight years until we will run out of landfill. We are very nearly there. In addition to the space issue, rubbish is a major contributor to global warming. Solid waste landfills are the single largest man-made source of methane gas. Methane (CH4) is a powerful greenhouse gas that is 23 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than the most prevalent greenhouse gas – carbon dioxide (CO2). The EU has recognised this and has implemented a system of fines for countries that do not attempt to ease the problem through other methods of waste disposal or a reduction in waste overall. The UK government has also taken measures, introducing substantial taxes for using landfill, which bumps up the cost. The landfill tax has had the desired effect for the most part, through a reduction in companies using landfill sites. The result has been a boost to the incineration sector, which avoids landfill tax. But despite their capacity to reclaim energy, it still sits at the bottom of the waste hierarchy and is nearly as bad as landfill. Incineration is a waste treatment process that involves the combustion of organic substances contained in waste materials.

The incineration of waste materials converts the waste into ash, flue gas and heat. The ash is mostly formed by the inorganic constituents of the waste, and may take the form of solid lumps or particulates carried by the flue gas. The flue gases must be cleaned of gaseous and particulate pollutants before they are dispersed into the atmosphere. In some cases, the heat generated by incineration can be used to generate electric power. Incineration with energy recovery is one of several waste-toenergy technologies such as gasification and pyrolysis. While incineration and gasification technologies are similar in principle, the energy product from incineration is high-temperature heat whereas combustible gas is often the main energy product from gasification. Incineration and gasification may also be implemented without energy and materials recovery. While from the outside incineration may be seen as a good solution to replace landfill, the reality is that it’s not a greatly preferable process. In addition to the harmful gases that are released, it also creates ash. This ash then needs to be buried in landfill sites and so there is still an unwanted waste product produced.

"Simply foregoing landfill is not enough to positively impact the environment" We are concerned that, while companies may be very vocal about having put a stop to waste being sent to landfill, they are not being so clear on what is actually happening once collections

Prevention If you can’t prevent, then...

Prepare re-use If you can’t prepare for re-use, then...

Recycle If you can’t recycle, then...

Waste from energy/AD If you can’t recover value, then...

Hierarchy of food waste

Incineration The burning of waste

Disposal Landfill if no alternative available

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TACKLING LONDON’S FOOD WASTE 2016


are made. Simply foregoing landfill is not enough to positively impact the environment and qualify a company for green credentials. And there is still a question mark over where millions of tonnes of waste are going. According to Materials Recycling World magazine, almost two million tonnes of commercial and industrial food waste in the UK is still going to landfill or other unknown destinations. “Unknown destinations” is most likely to entail incineration – the method sitting at the bottom of the waste hierarchy. England is the worst offender, with around 85 percent of all the UK’s waste originating there (Eunomia 2016), it is Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that are actually tackling the issue of commercial food waste. Scottish regulations dictate that businesses keep food waste separately, meaning that it must be disposed of separately by law, and converted into energy.

“Just 31 percent of local authorities in England were collecting food waste separately compared to eight percent in Northern Ireland, 56 percent in Scotland and 86 percent in Wales.” WRAP has the latest figures on which local authorities are collecting food waste as of 2014/15. Just 31 percent of local authorities in England were collecting food waste separately compared to eight percent in Northern Ireland, 56 percent in Scotland and 86 percent in Wales. Nearly half of English local authorities did not offer any food collection at all (45 percent), compared to zero percent in Wales, 19 percent in Scotland and just 12 percent in Northern Ireland. The problem remains with England, where large proportions of waste – including food – are being exported. According to Eunomia, exports of refuse-derived fuel (RDF) in England alone reached 2.94m tonnes in 2015, up from 2.43m tonnes in 2014 for the whole of England and Wales. This is contrary to Environment Agency (EA) estimates last summer that anticipated the market would level off due to export routes becoming more expensive. It has been the differential between UK landfill rates and the cost of exporting RDF that has driven the market since exports began in 2010. The data shows that most exported waste is going to the Netherlands with 1.3m tonnes, while Germany and Sweden take second and third place. Last year, new export destinations emerged including Bulgaria and Cyprus. The RDF Industry Group expects more accurate data for 2015 to be available later this year. While access to accurate figures is positive, we need greater transparency on where waste is going, as well as a certain degree of naming and shaming to cajole those still making poor decisions, into acceptable waste disposal methods. Recycle for London, a campaign run by WRAP, and the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB), is working with councils to improve food waste services. It advocates that the only ‘acceptable’ methods of disposal are AD or in-vessel composting, which is

generally reserved for mixed garden and food waste. Meanwhile, Love Food Hate Waste – a sister campaign run by WRAP – is aiming to educate consumers on how to reduce overall waste. The next section will explore the hurdles that London local authorities face in championing change.

15m tonnes

of food & drink waste produced in the UK* *WRAP, estimates of food and packaging waste in the UK grocery retail and hospitality supply chains

IS EQUAL TO

1,185,771 routemasters OR

70,423 jumbo jets OR

15O million

wheelie bins full of waste

TACKLING LONDON’S FOOD WASTE 2016

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The UK’s food waste AD capacity The AD industry has grown rapidly and today there are around 107 dedicated waste plants in the UK. While the government is proposing to slash subsidies for new sites, we now have great capacity for processing food waste in this way. However, it does not automatically mean it is happening and experts believe the plants are, as a whole, only at around 50 percent capacity. Widely accepted as the ‘greenest’ method of recycling unavoidable food waste and higher up on the waste hierarchy than incineration, there is no reason that the huge capacity now available across the UK should not be utilised. Improper food waste segregation is the sole reason that this idle capacity exists. It is forcing collectors to seek out alternative methods of disposal, often at a higher cost financially and to the environment.

only at

50% capacity

CHOOSING THE MOST SUITABLE METHOD OF DISPOSAL

CO2 eq

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Food and drink accounts for 20% of UK CO2 eq emissions

To put it into perspective, incinerators emit more carbon dioxide per unit of electricity (2988 lbs/MWh) than coal-fired power plants (2249 lbs/MWh). After promoting the use of burning waste, Denmark realised that the process was in fact releasing double the quantity of carbon dioxide than originally estimated. The evidence suggests that despite producing energy, the impact on the environment is predominantly negative.

2988 lbs/MWh 3K (CO2 lbs / MWh electricity)

Incineration sits at the bottom of the waste hierarchy in terms of best practice for the environment, alongside using land fill sites.

2249 lbs/MWh 2K

1K

While waste management professionals are aware that landfill has become unfeasible from both an environmental and cost perspective, incinerating food waste should not be regarded as a step in the right direction. With food and drink accounting for 20 percent of the UK’s CO2 eq emissions, the industry needs to look at much greener processes, and that all hinges on better separation of waste.

So why are some councils continuing to use incineration? Is it because it’s easier to just lump everything in together, or is it because it’s too expensive to introduce separate collections?

Some councils are still to introduce separate food waste collections to households in their areas, which means the majority simply send all their municipal waste to incineration plants. In London, two incinerator plants alone are burning thousands of tonnes of food and drink, simply because it is mixed with other domestic waste.

The government has granted permission over the last couple of years for heavy investment in anaerobic digestion (AD) plants to help reduce the impact of unavoidable food waste on the environment. Investors will have spent £10m or more on these plans and now the government needs to help and aid these plants to ensure that food waste is not going up in smoke.

TACKLING LONDON’S FOOD WASTE 2016

0K

Incinerators

Coal-fired power plants


AD plants in the UK CHP (91) BtG & CHP (15) BtG (1)

CHP = Combined Heat & Power BtG = Biomethene

M25

Map data developed by the NNFCC as seen on Google Maps: AD Portal Biogas Map

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The state of food waste disposal in London Local authorities within London are free to implement their own waste disposal measures, which are chosen after taking into account the size of the borough they are managing, the resources available to them and the cost implications. Some councils work in partnership with those in neighbouring districts. The South London Waste Partnership, comprising Kingston, Croydon, Sutton and Merton, is one such partnership. Each council puts forward two members to vote on issues, meaning differences of opinion mean change is slow. Three of the boroughs currently collect separate food waste, with Sutton yet to follow suit. Bio Collectors plant sits in Merton on the Sutton border in an area that does segregate – just 100 metres away from an area that does not. This is typical of the food waste collection situation in London, with all boroughs employing different systems. A movement away from landfill in the London boroughs began in the early 2000s with Bexley quick off the mark to establish change. The south-east council initiated a pilot to collect separated food waste in 2002, which went borough-wide in 2004. According to current records, average collection rates sit at around 156 tonnes per week, including commercial waste. Before November 2015, material was taken to a transfer station in Crayford, where it was processed through in-vessel

composting – still a preferred option by many councils. Since then, Bexley has decided to now take all its food waste to an AD plant in Essex. Barnet followed suit with food waste collections starting in October 2006, retrieving around 6,000 tonnes across 102,000 households, which is then transferred to an AD plant in Dagenham. Ealing and Croydon are just two of the boroughs that have all made the move to AD, the latter via the South London Waste Partnership. Harrow and Hounslow are also setting this example, while the City of Westminster currently sends all its waste to incineration. Many local authorities in London currently promote the fact that they use a method of composting to recycle their food waste. This is generally the case when garden and food waste is collected together. Waltham Forest is one borough that conducts its collections in this way. Since 2011, food and garden waste have been collected together in 140 or 240-litre bins, which are

ENFIELD

BARNET HARINGEY

HARROW

REDBRIDGE WA LT H A M FOREST H AV E R I N G

BRENT

HACKNEY

HILLINGDON

BARKING & DAGENHAM

ISLINGTON

TOWER HAMLETS

CAMDEN CITY OF WESTMINSTER

EALING

KENSINGTON & CHELSEA

No separate food waste collection

SOUTHWARK

HAMMERSMITH & FULHAM

HOUNSLOW

NEWHAM

CITY OF LONDON

GREENWICH LAMBETH

RICHMOND UPON THAMES

LEWISHAM

WANDSWORTH

BEXLEY

Separate food waste collection – food only or FGW (not mixed with residual waste)

MERTON KINGSTON UPON THAMES BROMLEY

SUTTON

CROYDON

Base map © Maproom at www.maproom.net

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Food waste collections in London, 2014


to flats, with 16,000 purpose-built flats in the borough. Other councils also using the composting method include Lambeth, Brent and Camden.

FOOD WASTE MILES According to recent London Assembly figures, around half of London’s food waste is transported out of the capital for treatment. Waste from northern boroughs including Haringey, Waltham Forest, Hackney, Islington and Camden is moved to Enfield, where it is then transported to Warwickshire. This represents a carbon footprint accrued of around 206.39kg of CO2 produced, based on a 95-mile trip from Islington to Warwickshire with an average of five miles per gallon. Conversely, northern boroughs including Harrow and Brent transport their waste to Kent, along with closer areas such as Lambeth and Southwark. This represents a carbon footprint of around 152.08 kg CO2 produced, based on a journey of around 70 miles at the same fuel consumption.

processed using in-vessel composting (IVC). Around 60,000 households take part, with an average of 9,000 tonnes of garden and food waste accrued each year. Commercial services, such as businesses and restaurants, are responsible for their own disposal of food waste. Future plans include rolling out food waste collection services

East London, as a whole, is locked into a contract with the East London Waste Authority (ELWA) until 2027, meaning no changes can be made to waste disposal methods without incurring high costs. The area comprises Redbridge, Newham, Havering and Barking & Dagenham, which collectively signed a 25year contract with Shanks PLC, a leading waste management company in 2002. Combined, the boroughs have a population of around 870,000 living in over 340,000 households, and are each responsible for the collection of household waste in their areas. Approximately 450,000 tonnes of waste are delivered to ELWA by the boroughs each year for disposal. The deal with Shanks aims to increase the amount of waste being recycled and composted and reduce the amount sent to landfill, but there is much more that could be done. AD, for example, does not feature in planned improvements. The Eunomia Research & Consulting June 2014 AD market update report states: “It will be appreciated that AD sits above incineration in the waste hierarchy, which presents a certain irony as many current local authority residual waste contracts disincentivise food waste collection and AD.

ENFIELD

No separate food waste collection BARNET HARINGEY

HARROW

Food waste collection from some flats

REDBRIDGE WA LT H A M FOREST H AV E R I N G

BRENT

HACKNEY

HILLINGDON

BARKING & DAGENHAM

ISLINGTON

TOWER HAMLETS

CAMDEN CITY OF WESTMINSTER

EALING

KENSINGTON & CHELSEA

GREENWICH LAMBETH

RICHMOND UPON THAMES

Food waste collection from kerbside properties only

SOUTHWARK

HAMMERSMITH & FULHAM

HOUNSLOW

NEWHAM

CITY OF LONDON

LEWISHAM

WANDSWORTH

BEXLEY

Food waste collection from kerbside properties and from some flats Food waste collection from kerbside properties and from at least 50% of flats

MERTON KINGSTON UPON THAMES BROMLEY

SUTTON

CROYDON

Food waste collections from kerbside properties or flats in London, 2014

Base map © Maproom at www.maproom.net

TACKLING LONDON’S FOOD WASTE 2016

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“In England, in 2012, around 40 percent of all residual waste was sent for incineration and that this residual waste might comprise up to 40 percent food waste, where no separate collection system was in place. Unless local authorities renegotiate contracts with their treatment suppliers, or unless they are required to change their approach to waste management, therefore, large amounts of food waste are likely to remain within the residual waste stream.” Less than half of London’s food waste is processed in London. The majority of waste authorities send their separated green waste (garden and food) to composting and AD facilities outside London to counties including Kent, Surrey, Cambridgeshire, Warwickshire and Northamptonshire. Some food waste is treated in the Enfield, Hillingdon and Barking & Dagenham boroughs. This is despite AD capacity in London being only around half full. Other than Bio Collectors, there is one other functioning AD plant in Dagenham and a further one due to open in West London on the M25 boundary. Food waste that is not separated is treated mostly within London’s boundaries at Energy for Waste and MBT facilities in Wandsworth, Lewisham and Bexley, while some landfill goes to Beddington Lane, Mitcham. London requires facilities to process about one million extra tonnes of food and green waste. LWARB has identified the regional capacity gaps for municipal waste. SITA UK has estimated that for every one million tonnes of waste diverted from landfill, 10 and 20 new treatment facilities will be needed. These facilities would be built without government support if the supply of source-segregated food waste could be guaranteed.

LEGISLATION TO INCREASE RECYCLING Kerry McCarthy MP last year introduced a Ten Minute Rule motion that would encourage individuals, businesses and public bodies to reduce the amount of food they waste. The bill would also require that large supermarkets, manufacturers and distributors reduce their food waste by no less than 30 percent by 2025 as well as disclosing levels of food waste in their supply chain. Following the end of the 2015/2016 session of Parliament, it was decided that the bill would not progress further. Disappointing as it may be, we can take solace from it in that the issue of food waste is clearly ranking more highly on the political agenda. However, what is clearly missing in London, and indeed England as a whole, is legislation to stop businesses and households mixing their waste. A spokesperson from WRAP told us that the attitude towards food and waste needs to be less of a ‘farm to fork’ mentality and more of a ‘farm to farm’ approach to involve people in what happens to their waste. In Layman’s terms – we need to think beyond simply putting food on a plate and eating it. But the only way to achieve this is to introduce laws to enforce the segregation of food waste. Without this, recycling rates in the capital and further afield will remain flat or decline.

Throughout the research for this report, we were faced with inconsistencies and a lack of transparency, even within councils, as to what their policies are. There needs to be greater education across the spectrum from consumers to councils as to the best option for disposing of food waste.

50

London vs England average household recycling rates 2000/01 to 2013/14

PERCENT %

40 30 20 10 0 2000/01 2001/02 2002/03 2003/04 2004/05 2005/06 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14

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The obstacles in London Recycle for London, the partnership campaign between the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) and WRAP, is currently planning the next stages of its campaign to almost double recycling waste in the capital to 50 percent by 2020. Currently sitting at around 33 percent, the easier half has been achieved and there are multiple barriers to overcome to reach the target. While London has made leaps in recycling since 2000, when recycling rates were in single figures nationally, it has now plateaued at around 33-34 percent. Industry insiders believe this figure is more likely to fall than rise, so further positive change is unlikely unless something shifts in consumer perception. Even within the councils that have sorted out their delivery services and integrated new systems, change requires more households to integrate it into their everyday lives. Resource London is working with London boroughs and individual local authorities to look at best service and how to implement service change, but it faces major obstacles in achieving this. Nationally, even internationally, those trying to push change are up against a general perception that separating food waste is unpleasant. This is thought to be particularly true of residents in the so-called ‘posher’ areas of London, including the Kensington, Chelsea and Fulham areas. It is not a subject that consumers are receptive to, which makes the challenge a difficult one.

The biggest hurdle when it comes to London is simply that the capital is so vast and the population is growing with estimates reaching up to 10 million by 2020. The biggest hurdle when it comes to London is simply that the capital is so vast and the population is growing with estimates reaching up to 10 million by 2020. The city is densely populated with as many as 80 percent of people living in flats in some boroughs. Rates of recycling become exponentially lower as the density of population increases. This is partly attitudinal and partly down to logistics – space for bin storage, maintenance of the bin area and access are all issues. Waste collection from flats is particularly challenging and few boroughs effectively separate food waste from these locations. In high rise buildings it also demands that residents repeatedly walk up and down stairs with bags of rubbish and it is easy to see why they may choose a simple life and keep all types of waste together for quicker disposal. As a whole across London, nearly half of all homes are comprised of flats and so improving food waste collection from these properties presents a great opportunity.

A further issue that makes changing recycling behaviour in London so difficult is that residents are so transient in the capital. According to Resource London, 32 percent of people in private rented accommodation moved in the last year with the majority staying in one place for less than two years. Home ownership statistics are low in London and the fact that people move so frequently means there is the possibility that they do not take the time to get to know the area in which they live in so far as bin collection services provided and the days they occur. The frequent moving of residents means that even relocating to just a street away places them in another borough with a completely different collection service. Our research showed that most London boroughs contain residents speaking more than 100 languages, meaning that even were councils to implement separate regular food waste collections, communication could be an issue. A spokesperson for Recycling for London, a campaign managed by Resource London, told us: “Some would argue that one of the answers is to have a more consistent collection service across London, but that would be a massive political and financial undertaking and is unlikely to happen. DEFRA is looking at consistency and there is something in harmonisation. From a communications perspective, I think there is something to be said for Londonwide communication.” Local authorities in Wales have a blueprint for waste collection services whereby each one is supposed to follow the same schedule. A London-wide service could be the answer, but then implementation would come up against the same issues of cost, logistics and communication. However, recent analysis suggests there are cost savings in separate food collections contrary to the popular view. Bio Collectors can guarantee that businesses will see a cost saving when separating their food waste. On purely a gate fee basis, the saving is more than half the equivalent cost of landfill or incineration. ACCOMMODATION IN UK*

ACCOMMODATION IN LONDON*

50% FLATS 20% FLATS

*Statistics from Greater London Authority, HOUSING IN LONDON 2015, The evidence base for the Mayor’s Housing Strategy

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What’s happening elsewhere? The European Commission is set to include mandatory food collections in its upcoming circular economy package, according to Materials Recycling World magazine. Current regulations stipulate that countries must provide separate collections for plastics, paper, metal and glass where technically, environmentally and economically practicable (TEEP). The leaked document seen by MRW, not due for publication until December, adds: “Member states shall ensure the separate collection of bio-waste where TEEP and appropriate to ensure the relevant quality standards for compost.” This means that food waste separation would become mandatory across the EU. A further point made in the report means that member states may get a boost in recycling figures, as it suggests taking into account the recycling of metals that takes place in the course of incineration or certain industrial processes. As it stands, policy on food waste across the EU is mixed, with Denmark leading the way when it comes to both environmentally-friendly disposal and the promotion of reducing food waste at source. This has largely been driven by the Stop Wasting Food campaign, an initiative that has played a pivotal role in changes in Denmark and more widely across Europe, having helped co-develop the EU’s Joint Declaration on Food Waste (October, 2010) in which the EU and UN committed to reducing food waste by 50 percent by 2025.

Founder of Stop Wasting Food, Selina Judd, told us: “We established the Stop Wasting Food movement through a Facebook group eight years ago at a time when there was no real discussion around food waste. Just two weeks after the group was made, we were in national media and three months later, we were approached by Denmark’s biggest discount retail chain REMA1000, which agreed to drop quantity discounts in all its Danish stores. After that, it completely took off and in just five years, Denmark’s national food waste has been reduced by 25 percent.” Work done in other countries also suggests that separate food waste collection schemes need not be more expensive, nor need it be such a feat to collect waste from high rise buildings. Many innovative and cost-effective separate collection schemes have been implemented in the south of Europe and in some new EU Member States. Milan in Italy has achieved rates of between 80 and 90 percent of households, mostly in blocks of flats, which are now regularly separating their food waste. Germany 63.8% Austria 56.3% Belgium 55.1% Switzerland 53.5% The Netherlands 50.9% Sweden 49.9% Denmark 44.3% United Kingdom 43.7% Italy 42.5% Norway 42.2% France 39.2% Spain 32.6% Finland 32.5% Poland 32.3% Hungary 30.5% Portugal 30.4% Czech Republic 25.4% Bulgaria 23.1% Croatia 16.5% Slovakia 10.3%

Recycling rates of municipal waste for 20 largest EU countries based on population* *Data not available for all countries. Source: Eurostat

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What we need to do There are many initiatives already underway with respect to changing public opinion and behaviour, and increasing awareness of the importance of disposing of waste sustainably. WRAP, the body behind the well-known Love Food Hate Waste campaign, believes there is a need to distinguish in the difference between avoidable and unavoidable food waste, where a banana skin is waste, but part of a banana should not be. The ethical standing of environmentally friendly food waste disposal starts with a reduction in overall food waste. It is then seen through the process by which it is disposed of. It is difficult to gauge participation within the London boroughs of how many people take advantage of separate food waste collections, if offered by their councils, because collection is recorded by tonnage across the number of households eligible for the service only.

businesses reduce their food waste to save their bottom line as well as their environmentally friendly credentials. On entering discussion with new customers, we perform a food waste assessment and advise what can be done to reduce waste as well as what service would best suit.

Helping businesses reduce their food waste is also an aim as those producing larger amounts can make a bigger impact by cutting down. Bio Collectors has pledged to help London

Bio Collectors wants to help businesses and, by extension, consumers reduce food waste and plan for a more sustainable future through recycling using anaerobic digestion.

It should be noted that companies can buy back the gas and electricity that their food waste produces, which demonstrates the value food waste can supply. Green gas credit certificates can also be obtained from the AD plant. Bio Collectors already works with numerous companies, which prefer not to be named for competitor reasons, that take advantage of this service.

FOLLOWING SCOTLAND’S LEAD From 1 January 2014, the Scottish Government passed a law that required all business to separate paper, plastic, metal, card and food for recycling, with most food businesses having to separate food waste so it can be turned into energy. Since implementing this, AD capacity in Scotland is already filled, with surplus food waste being transported over the border into England to be disposed of, so successful is the scheme. The country will also enforce a blanket ban on waste going to landfill by 2020. England can learn from Scotland’s lead, and London, in particular, must begin to utilise its AD capacity before waste is transported outside the capital.

Circular economy The ultimate aim has to be achieving a circular economy, as opposed to the traditional and unsustainable linear practice of make, use and dispose. This follows the farm to farm ethos, whereby produce is utilised, recycled and returned to farms as fertiliser to begin the process again. Resources must be kept in use for as long as possible, extracting maximum value from them in that time, in order to create a sustainable environment.

TACKLING LONDON’S FOOD WASTE 2016

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Just AD Food Food waste segregation must be introduced across London, whether this is a blanket policy covering all boroughs or a greater push on individual councils to make this a higher priority. If councils can be persuaded to pay greater concern to this issue, it would go a long way towards solving the issues in areas of high-rise, high-density housing where more must be done to overcome the logistical barriers to food waste collection. Consumers must also be better educated in the importance of food waste segregation, as well as the AD process. We must educate local authorities and businesses on the benefits of food waste recycling and encourage them to see the long term positive changes and cost savings that it brings. Businesses can, in turn, educate their employees and encourage change from within. It is also vital to help people understand the difference between avoidable and unavoidable food waste, therefore reducing the overall amount in the disposal system. It must also be remembered that food waste that is disposed is turned into a rich fertiliser by-product during the AD process and is fed back into the system through use at local farms. This means no

energy is wasted, no harmful by-products are produced and the whole cycle hugely benefits the local area. If we can make doing the ‘right thing’ as easy as possible, we will be able to encourage more people to take heed. Change will start with the consumer, whether that manifests at home or in office buildings. To that end, we are hereby launching our Just AD Food campaign to promote food waste segregation and recycling for a healthier environment. We hope that with the issues behind food recycling laid out in this report, as well as the barriers we face for its development, our Just AD Food campaign will start to champion change.

OUR FOUR KEY OBJECTIVES ARE:

è Raise awareness of the waste disposal challenges associated with densely populated areas and move towards separate food waste collections, which will then go to anaerobic digestion plants. Just 18 of 33 councils currently operate separate food waste collections and we want to drive change and push this number up.

è We will raise awareness of the waste hierarchy among London’s businesses and those responsible for making waste management decisions within London’s 33 local authorities. Sending food waste to incineration is not a step in the right direction and does not represent the changed needed to achieve the new London Mayor’s ambition to make the capital one of the world's greenest cities. We don’t want to see any more food waste going up in smoke.

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TACKLING LONDON’S FOOD WASTE 2016

è We want all London-based restaurateurs and retailers to support local food waste collectors and honour their responsibility to the environment. They should insist that local AD plants are used to recycle waste to achieve the most friendly and cost effective disposal method for their waste.

è With London’s AD capacity only at about the halfway point, we want to ensure that local plants are fully utilised before any food waste is transported out of the capital. Many businesses do not know where their waste goes after it leaves their property. Some collectors are transporting food waste hundreds of miles to AD sites in the Midlands and further afield. The focus on shopping locally and eating locally sourced food should extend to how we dispose of our food waste.


FOODSAVE FoodSave, the project funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) and the Mayor of London, has gone some way to raise awareness of this issue. Implemented in November 2013, the project had by March last year achieved the diversion of 1,000 tonnes of food waste from being sent to landfill and prevented more than 150 tonnes of food waste a year. This saved 200 participating businesses an estimated collective £550,000 a year. The cost saving to be made through best food waste disposal methods is incredible and businesses need the right communication from the government to be given the extra impetus to participate. We hope the Mayor can go some way towards making this happen.

PARTICIPATING BUSINESSES SAVED, ON AVERAGE, AN ESTIMATED

£2,750 IN ONE YEAR FROM RECYCLING FOOD

ACHIEVING LONDON’S ULTRA-LOW EMISSION ZONE From September 2020, London plans to have the world’s first ultra-low emission zone. The capital’s bus network carries 2.3 billion passengers a year – more than the rest of England combined. Transport for London has already introduced hydrogen fuel buses that emit nothing but water into the air, and has trialled electric buses. There have also been steps to introduce vehicles powered by bio-fuel. We believe that there is an opportunity to bring ‘food waste powered buses’ to London’s roads, similar to what have been seen in Sunderland, Bath and Bristol. Using the biomethane produced through the treatment of unavoidable food waste, experts believe a bus can travel up to 186 miles on one tank of gas, providing a sustainable way of fuelling public transport while also improving urban air quality.

8,500

BUSES OPERATE IN LONDON, TRAVELLING

486,000,000 km

IN 2011

BENEFITS OF SEPARATE WASTE COLLECTION Councils often do not realise that there are multiple benefits to introducing separate food waste collections, which affect them as well as their residents and the environment.

WASTE

We can guarantee that businesses that choose to separate their food waste will benefit from a cost saving in waste disposal.

In instances where councils have implemented food waste segregation, the volume of overall food waste will reduce.

Councils and businesses alike will benefit from a green environmentallyfriendly image when separating food waste and using AD as a disposal method.

The capacity that the AD process has in creating energy for use either in the national grid or to be sold back to businesses means there are cost savings and green credentials to be made, as well as becoming less reliant on other nations for energy.

The AD process produces a nutrientrich fertiliser that enhances farmers’ crops to a greater degree than its chemical counterparts.

TACKLING LONDON’S FOOD WASTE 2016

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Tackling London's Food Waste 2016  

The Tackling London’s Food Waste report, published by Bio Collectors, lays out the issues around food waste in the capital and launches a ca...

Tackling London's Food Waste 2016  

The Tackling London’s Food Waste report, published by Bio Collectors, lays out the issues around food waste in the capital and launches a ca...

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