Waste Not, Want Not: How Businesses Can Reduce Food Waste

26 February 2024
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In the UK, we produce around 9.5 million tonnes of food waste every year. And yet, only 1.8 million tonnes are recycled, resulting in more than 7 million tonnes heading to landfill. With 40% of this food waste contributed by businesses and the hospitality industry, its vital organisations understand how they can reduce their food waste to decrease the amount being sent to landfill and ultimately contribute to the circular economy. 

UK Regulations on Food Waste

Regulations for food waste separation and collection were due in England in 2023 under the Environment Act 2021 however the Government has since gone quiet on this.  

A focus of the new regulation included mandatory food waste segregation for all businesses as part of their 2030 goal to eliminate food waste to landfill. The new rules stated that recycling through composting or anaerobic digestion will be the only approved method for food waste management. Therefore, prohibiting food waste from being sent to landfill or incineration alongside general waste. 

With this, DEFRA has also ditched it’s plans for mandatory food waste reporting despite 80% being in favour. Instead, the Government will be pressing forward with a voluntary approach with another review set for mid-2025. 

Whilst it hasn’t been confirmed when mandatory food waste segregation will come into effect in England, it’s set to come into force in Wales from April 6th, 2024. As part of its goal of achieving Net Zero by 2050, the Welsh Government is mandating that businesses will have to separate food waste from general waste and other recyclable streams if they want to avoid fines. 

How can businesses reduce their food waste

We know the rest of the UK will eventually follow Wales’ lead, so we can help you do the right thing and begin your food waste segregation process now.  

Quick Wins
Provide food waste bins with clear signage
Evaluate current waste streams and identify opportunities to reduce food waste via a comprehensive waste audit
Make donations of unused food to charities or local food banks
More Effort Wins
Explore how food waste can be used to produce energy
Train employees on the new processes and how to separate food waste correctly
Partner with recycling companies (like Zest!) to improve internal processes, aligning with a circular economy
Zest Recycle
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WRAP Food Action Week

WRAP’s flagship annual Food Action Week is coming soon (18th-24th March) with the theme ‘Choose What You’ll Use’ to highlight the benefits of buying loose to reduce the amount of food waste. WRAP research has shown that if all apples, bananas and potatoes were sold loose, we could save 60,000 tonnes of food waste by enabling people to buy closer to their needs.  

Businesses should try to use this as an opportunity to get employees together to think about how food waste can be handled better. Food waste internal programmes and events are some of our favourite ways to mark the week – and there’s plenty of time to get prepared. 

  • Fun food waste quizzes to test your team’s knowledge 
  • Arrange for any leftover food to be donated to a local food bank 
  • Encourage employees to buy loose for a week to see the impact it has on food waste 

Talk to the Zest Recycle team

At Zest Recycle, we work with companies across all sectors to manage their food waste. Why not Start Fresh and talk to us today about your food waste requirements? We can deliver tailored resource management solutions which focus on industry best practice to ensure our clients are environmental leaders in their sector. 

If you need our support or advice on food waste management, including waste audits, we’re just a phone call away. Contact us here. 

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