NOVEMBER 2008

Residents support food waste recycling

Trials offering separate collections of food waste to over 94,000 households have shown high levels of public support for diverting food waste from landfill, Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) announced. Following the trials, some local authorities have already decided to roll out these collections on a permanent basis. Consumer surveys conducted by WRAP showed 78 percent of residents were satisfied with the collection service they received and in around half of the areas where participation monitoring was conducted, 70 percent of households were taking part in the service. The collected food waste was either composted at in-vessel facilities or treated by anaerobic digestion.

The trials, conducted by 19 local authorities and supported by WRAP, provided weekly food waste collections to over 94,000 households in a range of urban and rural locations. Households were provided with a caddy for separating food waste in the kitchen, a supply of caddy liners and a container for storing food waste in prior to collection. The average quantity of food waste collected at curbside each week was between 2 to 4 lbs. per household. During the trials, approximately 4,400 tons of food waste was diverted from landfill, avoiding emissions equivalent to 2,000 tons of CO2.

Analysis of the results shows that:

  • The use of caddy liners, making the food collections clean and easy for residents, was an important factor in encouraging participation.
  • The trials have begun to encourage changes in attitude towards food waste. A proportion of survey respondents stated that their awareness of the need to avoid food waste had increased as a result of the trial.
  • Weekly food waste collections have been shown to be successful in areas where residual waste is collected either fortnightly or weekly, although higher participation and yields were found with the former.
  • Size of household, lifestyle and the communications strategies of different local authorities are other factors likely to affect the amount of food waste collected.
  • Overall, trials in more affluent areas achieved higher yields of food waste compared to the trials in less affluent areas. This may be the result of social, environmental and housing issues which local authorities will want to consider as they develop collection schemes.

Phillip Ward, director for Local Government Services at WRAP said, “We throw away 6.7 million tons of food every year in the UK and most of that goes to landfill. Even those households that believe they aren’t producing much or any food waste are discarding on average nearly 6.6 lbs. per week.