Opinion: Steve Witt reveals the latest on food waste regulation changes

Steve Witt – Ecofast Environmental UK Ltd crop
Ecofast Environmental founder Steve Witt questions the banning of certain food waste management technology.

Steve Witt, Ecofast Environmental founder and chair of FEA’s Food Waste, Fats, Oils and Grease (FFOG) Equipment Product Group Forum, gives the lowdown on prospective changes to food waste handling regulations in England:

The upcoming changes to the handling of food waste within England means the nation is due to fall in line with the rest of the devolved governments’ tried and tested approach to dealing with this troublesome waste stream.

As chair of FEA’s Food Waste, Fats, Oils and Grease (FFOG) Equipment Product Group Forum, we have been discussing this change for what seems an eternity. Unfortunately, many consultants, dealers and end users have been told a differing stories; so what is actually happening?

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With the changes in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales restricting the use of certain equipment types, this process looks increasingly likely to occur in England as well. This against the backdrop of EU Environmental directives and circular economy frameworks.

FEA has been working with Zero Waste Scotland, DEFRA and the Environment Agency (EA) to ensure not only that all FEA solution providers are heard, but more importantly that the correct data and product information is presented to the decision makers.

We have for years been on the receiving end of government agencies being advised from various ‘interested parties’ trying to influence the decision process through opinion rather than fact.

Through FEA’s FFOG Group we have promoted the ethos of not one glove fits all. Where one type of technology is strong in a given circumstance, the same equipment maybe wholly inadequate in another.

My opinion is that banning technology in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary only stifles the future development of future solutions and innovation.

That said, the Environment Bill 2019 is currently in the report stage of the House of Commons. On its journey it is approximately three quarters of the way through the House of Commons process before being passed over to the House of Lords.

What usually occurs after these stages, and where we at FEA have learnt from the similar processes in the past with processes and changes in legislation with the devolved governments, is that there will be a period of consultation and discussion to clarify what these new regulations actually mean to the foodservice industry and what equipment solutions can be used in reducing food waste. This will be as part of the established ‘Target, Measure, Act’ process being implemented by sustainability charity WRAP.

FEA has also proposed an evolution of the food and drink material hierarchy to align it with the needs of the foodservice sector specifically. This provides the opportunity to give a detailed but relevant structure to define the optimum routes and equipment for efficient FFOG resource management whilst meeting the government goals. The need for technical, environmental and economic practicability is a key requirement. The FEA is engaged with many other organisations and the key government offices to get traction for this approach.

The aim of working with DEFRA and the EA is to assist with their legislative aims and thereby produce a guidance that clearly states what the foodservice operators should be doing to manage their sites effectively, but until the Environmental Bill is set into law (later in 2021), we will not know for certain.

Tags : ecofastfood waste disposalIndustry Expertopinionvoice of the industryWaste management
Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

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