From Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, to mince pies, cake, and party nibbles, we buy in a lot more food in than usual over the festive period. According to the Love Food Hate Waste campaign, in the UK, ten million tonnes of food are wasted very year, with around 70 per cent of that coming from our homes. As we struggle to eat all our festive fodder, the tendency is to throw a substantial amount of it away.
So, what can be done? As indicated in the Love Food Hate Waste campaign, clearly the greatest effort should be made to reduce the level of surplus food discarded in the first place. The #FestiveFreeze message, part of the #FoodSavvy campaign managed by Environmental charity, Hubbub, encourages people to make a little more room in their freezer at this time of year, to preserve leftovers. The latest retail survey by WRAP indicates there has been a significant increase in the use of the snowflake logo, used to indicate the product is suitable for home-freezing, rising from 15% to nearly 50%. Another option, if food is still edible, is to donate it to food banks, to support people who need it most.
However, when food needs to be thrown-away, we all know that it can be collected and effectively handled and disposed of through composting and anaerobic digestion. Yet much of it still ends up in landfill where it decomposes and gives off methane, a potent greenhouse gas, contributing to climate change.
Compostable bags are ideal for food and garden waste, where they compost together with their contents within central or home composting schemes. Studies by WRAP have shown that issuing compostable food waste liners encourages participation in local authority food waste collection schemes, increases the volume of food waste collected, and improves the quality of other dry recyclates.
Consultation on food waste
Following the publication of its Waste and Resources Strategy for England, released in December last year, the government launched a series of consultations, including those covering its plans to collect a more consistent set of household materials for recycling. Given the support for separate food waste collection, the government will legislate to ensure that every local authority provides households with a separate food waste collection service.
Government will work with local authorities and others to consider how best to deliver this requirement to take account of local circumstances. Considerations include providing a separate food waste collection for properties in densely populated areas and especially flats and properties above commercial premises, as well as very rural areas.
Feedback given in the consultations also indicated there was support for the provision of caddy liners with more than half of stakeholders supporting this approach.
The right tools and materials for the right recycling application
We’ve indicated that compostable bags are a practical solution for food waste. In other packaging applications however, a cautious approach is required to ensure compostable films and bags are disposed of correctly, so they don’t end up contaminating other recycling streams. As with other plastic packaging, clear markings and labelling are key to informing the consumer about the correct recycling stream for a particular product.
Food for thought
It can be easy to forget about the importance of recycling when you’re so busy seeing friends and family, enjoying good food, celebrating, and having fun. Remember that Christmas is a time for giving, so make sure you give back to the environment this season by ensuring your leftover food doesn’t damage our planet.
If we all do our bit to stop food waste, we can work together to make a difference and ensure that we have ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ for many generations to come. Now that’s something to celebrate! On behalf of everyone here at Cromwell Polythene, we wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year – one that’s focused on a sustainable future. Cheers to that!