WRAP Report Launched at ADBA Conference

Five Point Plan to Increase Food Waste Recycling

An action plan intended to boost both the quantity and quality of food waste recycling from household and commercial waste collections was launched today at the ADBA Conference in Birmingham, UK.

Image © Robert Owen-Wahl

An action plan intended to boost both the quantity and quality of food waste recycling from household and commercial waste collections was launched today at the ADBA Conference in Birmingham, UK.

According to the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the Food Waste Recycling Action Plan has been developed by industry, with input from local authorities, waste treatment operators, private sector waste collectors and industry bodies.

It is hoped that once implemented the plan will increase the amount of food waste collected and recycled by promoting greater collaboration across the food waste recycling supply chain. Presented as a five-point plan, it highlighted the current barriers to food waste recycling and practical solutions to overcome them as cost effectively as possible.  

WRAP noted that despite the UK’s best efforts, there is still 10 million tonnes of ‘post-farm gate’ food wasted across the UK every year. While 40% of this was said to be unavoidable, the organisation said that food waste prevention and redistribution will remain a priority.

According to WRAP just 1.8 million tonnes of food waste is currently recycled, and increasing that would have significant economic and environmental benefits. For example, by maximising available anaerobic digestion and composting capacity to produce renewable energy and fertilisers, as well as reduce the 20 million tonnes of carbon produced annually by this food waste. Recycling more food waste could also boost England’s plateauing recycling rate. 

The action plan is intended to support local authorities already active in food waste recycling - helping them to cost effectively maximise their food waste collections, and local authorities thinking about adding a collection.  

It also planned to help operators of food waste treatment plants play their part in securing the long term supply of food waste, at a quality required for their operations.

“Not all of this food waste can be prevented or redistributed and this is where the food waste recycling sector has an important role to play in reducing the amount that goes to landfill,” commented Rory Stewart, Defra resources minister.

Marcus Gover, CEO at WRAP, added: “There are significant volumes of food waste still ending up in the residual waste stream. This is a massive loss of resources. The action plan recognises the shared interests and common benefits to collecting and recycling more of the food waste we can’t prevent and avoid. This can only be realised by the sector working together.

“The plan provides the road map for industry to do just that and I urge everyone to take a look at it and see what they can do,” he concluded.

Ray Georgeson, chair of the Steering Group, said: “Finding a clear and concise path to improved food waste collections was never going to be easy, but I am delighted by the response of the Steering Group.”

They have risen to the challenge and we’ve produced a succinct and realistic action plan, which is the industry’s collective response to the barriers holding back growth in food waste recycling. I look forward to seeing us use these actions to deliver tangible change.”

The actions are grouped under five distinct themes:

  • Developing the business case
  • Optimising food waste collections
  • Communicating with householders and commercial food waste producers
  • Ensuring quality as well as quantity
  • Making contracts work. Each action is assigned to a lead body responsible for coordinating its delivery.

The plan has been welcomed by the Renewable Energy Association (REA) also welcomed the plan.

“The report’s five-point plan plots a clear path forward and is a milestone in the movement to improve food waste collections,” commented Jeremy Jacobs, technical director of the REA.

“The REA believes that although this plan will assist greatly in delivering increased collection of food waste, if we are to make the necessary step change, a mandate from central Government is required,” he continued. :Any action from Government would need to ensure that all local authorities are provided with adequate funding to roll out food waste collections so that like Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, England too can make better use of this valuable resource.”

The action plan can be found HERE  

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