Industry puts food waste techniques under scrutiny

A leading carbon management company has been commissioned by a group of the UK’s top restaurant chains to evaluate and recommend the best equipment for turning food waste into energy.

London-based Carbon Statement will carry out an in-depth study into the most effective techniques after findings from the Hospitality Carbon Reduction Forum revealed that more than 50% of food waste from its members is currently going to landfill.

The forum represents the interests of 12,000 restaurants and pubs, including chains such as Whitbred, Mitchells & Butlers, Nando’s and Hammerson.

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Carbon Statement said the huge volume of waste going to landfill reflected a lack of available anaerobic digestive capacity in England and Wales , as well as inconsistent nationwide waste contractor coverage.

“The industry has a great opportunity to collaborate to improve efficiencies of collection and benefit from volume deals with the food waste to energy companies,” said Peter Charlesworth, director of Carbon Statement. “These benefits include removing landfill charges, reducing backhauling and transportation costs and associated carbon emissions while earning money from generating energy.”

Charlesworth said that the company has mapped all members’ sites across the UK against existing and planned AD capacity to optimise the waste collection process and to consider the location of new AD plants.

“Today there is little co-ordination between the supply of food waste, collection and the positioning of sites,” he said. “Since Scottish legislation bans food waste to landfill from 2014, we need to act now, together as an industry, to tackle this problem.”

As 200,000 tonnes of food waste is generated annually, Carbon Statement calculates that this could generate massive efficiencies such as enough electricity to power 20,000 homes for one year.

Carbon Statement intends evaluate the most cost effective range of commercial options for restaurants.

These include backhauling food waste direct to an existing AD plant; independent waste contractor food waste collection direct to AD plant; using one waste contractor with a network of AD facilities; building a dedicated new AD plant for Hospitality Forum members; and food waste incineration with independent collection.

The report has been backed by WRAP, which has set food waste recycling targets with members of the forum.

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