Your household or business could be spending hundreds, or even thousands, of pounds on food that’s then thrown away. Apparently the average home bins food worth £50 every month. That’s a lot of pizza, pasta and peas being tossed away as rubbish, every day.
This mountain of edible waste creates its own problems. The decomposing mass is a huge source of pollution, pumping CO2 into the atmosphere as it rots down in landfills. More worryingly, for householders, it’s an enormous food source for a variety of insects and animals, attracting vermin and creating a pest control problem.
Fortunately, Borough councils are taking positive steps to introduce food waste recycling for at least some of London’s thousands of homes.
For example, the London Borough of Southwark has recently completed a trial collection of food waste from many homes. Considered a success, the pilot scheme has been continued beyond its initial six months and the Borough is now looking at extending it to other areas.
These collections take place weekly, partly as a pest control measure. While much of the discarded food is placed in secure plastic bins with lids, it still produces unpleasant smells as it begins to rot. The trend towards collecting rubbish once every two weeks is acceptable for dry rubbish, but by removing food waste weekly, councils are helping to deter pests attracted to the foul odours.
Southwark’s recycling scheme takes a broad range of food waste including meat and bones, rice and pasta and dairy products. This material is mixed with garden waste and composted on a commercial scale. By processing this in a controlled environment, exposure to pests is minimised and the outcome is a reusable material, compost, which can be sold back to consumers.
Other London Boroughs provide services similar to those being trialled by Southwark. Lambeth began a trial in 2009 which is slowly being extended across the borough. The City of London is also rolling out food waste collections. However, some areas, such as Kensington and Chelsea, are still without food recycling capabilities.
Businesses can’t take advantage of the free collection services provided by Borough councils. However, there are plenty of waste disposal firms eager to service their needs and all of these will be working towards recycling targets.
The most effective way to deal with food waste is to buy more carefully and throw less away. But there will always be some leftovers which require disposal in a way that avoids attracting the attention of pests.