food waste

An industry action plan to recycle more inedible food waste has been launched today at the ADBA show in Birmingham.

The Food Waste Recycling Action Plan, developed by local authorities, waste treatment operators and industry bodies, aims to improve on the 1.8 million tonnes of food waste currently recycled via anaerobic digestion or composting each year, only 18% of the total wasted by both households and businesses.

Though the five-point plan makes clear recycling should only be considered where “prevent, reduction or redistribution isn’t an option” it says the UK’s 76 AD plants and 87 composing centres play “an integral role in collection, recycling and recovering value from food that would otherwise be wasted.”

Currently however a number of barriers stand in the way of progress, including the fact that only 50% of households have access to such a service from their local authority, the perceived cost of introducing such a service at a time of slashed budgets, and the negative perception some households have of the process.

Marcus Gover, CEO at WRAP, said: “Preventing food waste sits at the heart of what WRAP does, but after we’ve done all we can to prevent and redistribute it, the focus has to shift to recycling.

“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.”

Among the recommendations is a plan to build a better business case for food recycling with a cost benefit analysis available for local authorities and commercial producers. Other steps include working with house builders to incorporate food waste recycling facilities in new homes and better guidance on when food waste becomes contaminated.

“The growth of the food waste recycling in the UK is a real success story, but more can be done,” Defra resources minister Rory Stewart added. “I welcome the action plan, showing how by working together, industry, government, businesses and local authorities can drive up the amount of unavoidable, inedible food waste that is recycled, helping our environment and boosting our economy.”

To view the full action plan go to: