Zero Waste To Landfill

Why Ban Waste Food From Landfill?

By achieving the goal of zero food waste to landfill, we will not only help to deliver demanding landfill and carbon reduction targets, but we can also save millions of pounds at every stage of the food chain. By processing the waste correctly it will provide inexpensive renewable energy, deliver employment opportunities, create chemical-free fertilisers for use by farmers and help to restore valuable nutrients back into the land.
 
By separating food waste, we can also unlock billions of pounds of value from recyclable materials currently consigned to incineration or landfill. This synopsis recently prompted the UK Green Alliance to describe a ban on food waste to landfill as a 'political no brainer'.

The process of layering general waste creates methane, which has a global warming potential 21 times
greater than carbon dioxide and methane from landfill represents 40% of all the UK's methane.

One of the biggest and most important challenges facing the food supply chain is convincing organisations and consumers to recycle food waste rather than send it to landfill. Efficient processing of food waste can reduce emissions, capture energy and recycle essential yet finite nutrients. When food waste is sent to landfill, not only does it release methane but the nutrient value is not captured. The food waste management industry is tackling the issue of food waste across the food chain, going to great lengths to preserve its inherent value.

Food Waste – A Global Issue

The cost of available resources is increasing and demand from an expanding global middle class, combined with population growth and climatic changes are increasing pressure on food, water, mineral and energy resources.
 
Despite this, it is estimated that 50% of all food produced on the planet goes to waste. As a result some 550bn cubic metres of water are wasted in growing crops that never reach the consumer. When we waste food, we also waste all of the land, nutrient, water and energy resources that went into producing it.
 
As the population continues to increase and more pressure is placed on global food production, we have a moral obligation but also an absolute need, to address the issue.

Making The Transition From Food Waste To Food Resource

The increasing cost of landfill and a greater emphasis on the principles of reduce, re-use, recycle and recover have raised the value of waste materials. Concepts like the 'circular economy' also view food waste as a resource.

Instead of discarding obsolete products, the circular economy takes the resources in unwanted products and uses them to manufacture new items. This re-structures the supply chain so products can be easily dismantled and re-used or recycled.
 
Implementing measures that would adopt a circular economic approach would cut out 'disposal' and retain the resource value of food in a classic closed loop.

The Food Waste Hierarchy

The food waste hierarchy is a model supported by a number of organisations, notably WRAP, The London Food Board and Feeding the 5000. Like the waste hierarchy, it favours solutions with more desirable environmental and economic outcomes. It draws an important distinction between surplus food, which can be used to feed humans or animals and food waste that can be further processed to return nutrients to the soil, extract energy and generate heat.

  • Reduce: Reduce the amount of food scraps & residuals (i.e. leftovers) being generated in the first place - shop with a list, strategically plant meals, etc.
  • Reuse: Feed People by giving high quality food to food shelters and other organisations with simlar strategies. Use lower quality food waste for agricultural uses, such as food for animals.
  • Recycle: Use food waste in anaerobic digestion, composting, and land application to produce energy and biofertiliser.
  • Remove: As a last resort remove all unusable waste and either send to landfill or for incineration.