Best Ways to Dispose of Food Waste

Each year the UK produces over 10 million tonnes of food waste with huge economic and environmental costs. As a large amount of food waste ends up in landfill and thus emits the greenhouse gas methane, contributing to global warming, action must be taken to improve the disposal of food waste. Also, there is great social responsibility, as not all food waste is inherently bad or inedible, therefore alternatives should be used to reduce waste.

As leading waste management and recycling providers in South Wales, SL Recycling provide a range of services including food waste recycling, ensuring food waste is disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. This guide to food waste disposal outlines some of the best ways to dispose of food waste.

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How is Food Waste Disposed Of?

Food waste comprises of all sorts of edible and inedible matter, created across many industries, mainly household and commercial.

Household Food Waste

Household food waste comprises of leftover food, food preparation waste and even unopened packaged food. Local authorities often collect food waste in a separate bin to encourage residents to recycle food instead of sending it to landfill. Household food waste is often used to created biogas (explained below) or compost.

Commercial Food Waste

Common commercial food waste includes unsellable food (past ‘use by’), leftover food from consumers, unsold food and by-products from manufacturing of food/drink products. Business waste is not managed by local authorities, therefore commercial waste management providers are enlisted to transport and dispose of the food waste.

Food Waste Regulations

Business have a Duty of Care to ensure all waste they produce, including food waste, is properly stored, transported, produced and disposed of in an environmentally considered way. Regarding food waste, this means businesses must properly store it in adequate containers in an organised, clean storage area prior to collection. The collection and disposal of the food waste must be hygienic and in accordance with local regulations, and each collection accompanied by a Waste Transfer Note.

At SL recycling we provide food waste management services, including a range of waste containers, waste collection and responsible food waste recycling through our partners.

The Best Ways to Dispose of Food Waste

Listed are some of the best disposal methods for food waste, as well as ways in which consumers and businesses can reduce the amount of food waste they produce.

Food Waste Recycling

By recycling food waste and recovering value from it, individuals and businesses ensure their waste is put to good use. Here are the main sustainable food disposal methods:

  • Anaerobic Digestion – Waste food is sorted, packaging removed, and liquid added (waste liquid from food production) to create a soup-like mixture. This mixture is then warmed to encourage the growth of anaerobic bacteria, then left for 60 days to allow the bacteria to break down the food. This process creates methane, which can be used as biogas for energy, and a rich fertiliser for growing more food.
  • Food Waste Dewatering – Removing the water content from food waste can reduce bulk and weight up to 80%. Even ‘dry’ waste can hold lots of water, so food waste is dewatered by being ground and pushed through increasingly smaller tubes to squeeze out moisture. The final product is light and small blocks of food which are cheap to transport due to size and weight, and can be used as cattle feed.
  • Composting – One of the most common and sustainable methods of food waste disposal, composting is when food waste naturally decomposes and creates fertiliser which can be done by businesses and individuals. To increase the success of composting, cardboard or newspaper can be used to balance out the acidity and heat, as well as microbe-rich soil to bolster microorganisms decomposing food. Oxygen is needed as this process is aerobic, not anaerobic, so air flow is encouraged by alternating layers of soil and carboard, and carefully turning the compost every two days.

Food Donations

Lots of food waste is often still edible at the point of disposal. Individuals and commercial businesses should explore the option of donating leftover food to food banks, homeless shelters, local farms or pet food producers. Not only does this help the environment through lack of energy needed to recycle waste or damaging effects of landfill, but also fulfils the social responsibility to share needed food.

Planning

By planning and being more aware of food waste creation, businesses and individuals may buy less food initially, and therefore create less waste. This is a similar principle to that of the ‘reduce’ section of The Waste Hierarchy whereby waste management begins at the creation of waste, not at disposal. For households, this means creating meal plans, shopping lists, budgets and freezing fresh produce to ensure there is only the food needed. Businesses can predict needs by analysing previous trends and buy accordingly, having proper procedures in place for stock rotation and staff training.

Education

Consumers and businesses who are aware of the sheer amount of food waste created and the negative economic and environmental impact it has may be more conscious. From ensuring consumers know the difference between ‘best by’ and ‘use by’ labels to encouraging businesses to compost or even marketing recipes that use leftovers, there are small scale measures that can be impactful if adapted by all.

Learn More with SL Recycling

The best way to dispose of food waste is to not create any at all, however certain food waste is inevitable, so at SL Recycling we help businesses manage food waste in the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly way. Whether you need specific waste containers, regular waste collections or advice on a waste management strategy, we offer it all. Our zero waste to landfill policy ensures we prioritise recycling and recovery, working with our local partners to create value from food waste via anaerobic digestion.

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