Over the past decade, there has been a significant and impressive rise in household recycling rates across the UK. With residents now having a far better understanding of what can and cannot be recycled within their local authorities, this has helped raise the tonnage of waste being sent to recycling plants rather than to landfill sites. Of the 26 million tonnes of waste produced in the UK, 12 million tonnes are recycled, and 14 million tonnes are sent to landfill sites. This gives us an average recycling rate of 45%, which has risen more than 4% since 2010.
The government is keen to improve this rate even further with the introduction of consistent waste collections by 2023 – which will require all councils across the UK to collect the same recycling, in the same collection methods. The aim is to also increase recycling rates, by making food waste recycling mandatory by local authorities UK-wide. Currently, less than half of UK councils offer kerbside food collections, however, with the mandatory collections set to be introduced in 2023, this will now mean all council will have to offer food waste collection services.
These 2 new initiatives are being introduced to increase the recycling rates, we as residents and consumers should try and control our waste better – in particular food waste. The vast majority of us already have a good understanding of dry waste recycling, which includes, paper, plastic, and metals – however more than half of us have never experienced food waste recycling, we have devised some tips to help keep your food waste under control.
Step one in keeping your waste under control is to reduce the waste in the first instance. There are many easy, effortless ways this can be achieved:
- Create a shopping list and stick to it – make sure you are only buying what you need!
- Avoid impulse purchases.
- Store your food wisely – ensure you are placing your food in the most appropriate place to extend their shelf life.
- Check the temperature of your fridge, your fridge should be 5°C or below.
- Check the expiry dates and then eat or freeze them before they go off.
If reducing is not possible, or something is preventing this step, the next stage would be to reuse:
- Repurpose your food – make your unused foods into soups, smoothies, or stews.
- Donate unwanted items to a food bank or neighbour in need.
- Freeze your excess food down and save it for another meal.
Recycle / Compost
Some aspects of our food can not be re-used, reduced or repurposed, and thus have to be disposed of, for instance eggshells. This is when recycling comes into play. The vast majority of food and food waste can be recycled to be composted in a kitchen food caddy, this includes expired or mouldy food, peelings, eggshells, tea bags and much more. There are a few items however that should not be put into the food caddy for recycling, food packaging, cutlery etc. It is important to remember this food caddy is only suitable for food that will compost.
The new 2023 recycling scheme and food waste collections may seem like a while away yet – but these handy waste management tips can be applied instantly, to help you reduce your food waste levels.