Act Now to Get Ahead of the Government’s New Food Waste Regulations

18 April 2023
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For several years now households in many parts of the UK have been separating their food waste and putting it into kitchen caddies ahead of refuse collection day. Now DEFRA (the Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) wants businesses to follow suit. 

Within the next 12 months the Government is expected to make it mandatory for all UK businesses which produce food waste to separate this from other types of waste ahead of disposing of it. Failure to handle food waste in compliance with the new legislation will result in penalties being imposed. 

This represents a significant challenge for many businesses, particularly those in the hospitality and leisure sectors. But the law change has implications for retail businesses and corporate offices as well – in fact any business that has food waste on its premises.  

Now is the time to prepare for the change. For many businesses this may require investment in new infrastructure and new operating processes, as well as in employee training. 

Why is the Government doing this?

The World Food Programme estimates that one third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally. This not only increases food prices for consumers and businesses but damages the earth’s ecosystems. 20% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food and drink production – these are needless emissions if the food and drink in question is subsequently wasted. 

The aim of the UK’s Environment Act is to move society further towards sustainability and having a more circular economy. The Government had previously pledged to reduce food waste by 20% by 2025, but the Environment Act has gone further and contains a commitment to eliminate food waste entirely from landfill by 2030. 

Any reduction in the amount of food waste that goes into landfill will reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that this waste generates, thereby helping to protect the environment. And if food waste is composted or returned to an Anaerobic Digestion (AD) Facility, it can produce renewable energy and bio fertilisers. 

What will the regulatory changes mean for businesses?

The new legislation makes it clear that food waste is now considered to be a valuable resource, and businesses will start having to pay for the disposal of their food waste. So, there’s a clear incentive for businesses to reduce their food waste volumes. To achieve this, many will start having to do things differently. Businesses which fully embrace the coming changes and take decisive action will benefit in two significant ways – they won’t have to pay for the disposal of food waste, and they will be doing their bit to protect the environment. 

Geography and lack of local infrastructure could be an issue here. Businesses in rural areas may face stiffer challenges than those in urban areas in getting food waste collected where this needs to happen. But on the plus side, they may have more opportunity, and space, to start composting food waste on-site. 

How can businesses prepare?

There are a number of things that businesses should be looking at right now in order to prepare for the new regulations. They should: 

Quick Wins:
Evaluate current waste streams and identify opportunities to reduce food waste Analyse the cost/benefit of installing food waste disposal systems on-site, such as food-dryers
Start composting food waste on-site where possible Make donations of leftover supplies of food to charities and food banks
Additional Effort Wins:
Consider investing in new infrastructure, such as food waste bins and collection vehicles Train employees on the new regulations and how to separate food waste
Explore how food waste can be used to produce energy Work with suppliers to reduce the amount of food waste that is generated
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Stop Food Waste Day

Stop Food Waste Day is coming up on April 26th – this is the largest single day of action around the world each year in the campaign against food waste. Businesses should try to use this as an opportunity to get employees together to think about how food waste can be handled better. Many businesses organise food waste themed internal programmes and events to mark the day. Some of our favourite ideas are: 

  • Fun food waste quizzes to test your team’s knowledge. 
  • Organise a community litter pick
  • Set up a ‘staff garden’ to get the team hands on in composting food waste, tea bags and the chance to grow some of your own food. 

Talk to the Zest Recycle team

The new UK food waste regulations are a significant change for businesses, but clearly, they also present new opportunities. By taking steps to StartFresh and prepare now for the new regulations, businesses can reduce their environmental impact and save money. 

Businesses of all types can benefit from working with recycling and waste management professionals. At Zest Recycle we deliver tailored resource management solutions which focus on industry best practice and ensure that our clients are environmental leaders in their sector. 

If you need our support or advice on any recycling or waste management initiatives, including waste audits, we’re just a phone call away. Please contact us 

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