New waste regulations in Scotland have passed into law this month, but many commercial kitchens are unaware of the changes, and could be fined up to £10,000 if they fail to comply.
Thousands of commercial kitchens across Scotland face higher collection charges and penalties from dry waste suppliers because of contaminated waste and also possibly hefty fines and convictions if prosecuted by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
However, with an environmentally friendly waste collection plan, businesses complying with the new regulations could actually save money, according to nationside cooking oil collector Olleco.
“This change in legislation will have a huge impact on the thousands of catering businesses across Scotland. The new legislation offers the opportunity to look at how the business can reduce food waste and view it as a resource. I believe that this change will also contribute to Scotland’s growing green economy and potentially save money for the businesses affected,” said Vincent Igoe, head of Olleco Scotland.
By law, all non-rural food businesses which produce over 50kg of food waste per week now have to segregate their food waste into separate bins to ensure it doesn’t end up in the general waste bin and ultimately into landfill.
Scotland is currently paying £95million in landfill taxes. The cost of sending waste to landfill increases by £8 per tonne every year and will reach £80 per tonne by April 2014. At the same time Scotland is throwing away a valuable resource. As food waste degrades it produces methane, which has a high calorific value which stores the potential to generate power. It is this powerful resource that Olleco collect and recycle.
Scotland’s restaurants alone produce over 1 million tonnes of waste food which is currently going to landfill; it is estimated that if all eligible kitchens apply the new regulations, this number could be cut by 95%. Through increased recycling and better sustainability management, food waste is predicted to fall sharply in the next year – which offers cost savings for kitchens across the country.
Olleco believes it can not only reduce the cost of waste to commercial kitchens, it can also turn much of the waste into additional money. “We estimate that every kitchen, by reducing the level of waste contaminated by food waste, could save money. If the average kitchen currently has a 1100 litre general waste bin collected five times a week, at a cost of £11.09 a time – they are currently paying out £55.45 a week. Plus they could now face higher charges from their waste collector and be liable for fines from SEPA for contaminating the dry waste with food. However, should that same kitchen segregate their waste e.g. three collections of a mixed recycling bin at £6.25 a lift, two uplifts of a 240 litre food waste bin at £8 a lift and only one uplift of a general waste bin at £11.25. This mix, would see that same kitchen only paying out £46 a week on uplifts – saving almost £500 a year,” explains Igoe.