Day 5 – Foody Friday
As the weekend is nearly here many of us will be planning our weekly shop, or making plans to eat with friends and family. According to WRAP, the Waste and Resources Action Programme, approximately one third of all the food produced in the world is lost or wasted.
In the UK this is valued at over £20bn worth of food waste annually, or £810 worth of food thrown away on average by each family in the UK per year.
We collect food waste from the full service catering restaurants on the DWP estate. This goes to Anerobic Digestion (AD), a process for recycling organic matter where bacteria break down food and convert it to biogas, to be used as a renewable heat/electricity source. What’s left over is heated to kill any unwanted bugs and used as a nutrient-rich fertiliser. AD is becoming increasingly available for household food waste collections too. As part of the AD process, the waste is pre-treated and anything that looks like packaging is removed. This includes any “compostable” packaging, vegware and coffee cups. Although these are marketed as compostable, they need to go through a very specific process in order to be composted. AD is not appropriate for these items, and it’s not guaranteed that the AD plant will go on to compost that waste – it could be incinerated or landfilled (see yesterday’s email).
We currently don’t provide separate collections for “compostable” packaging waste, so we ask that these items are placed in the General Waste bins.
If food or compostable packaging ends up in landfill –and there is a good chance it will if you’re in an area of the UK where general waste isn’t able to be incinerated – it produces landfill gas as it degrades. Landfill gas is mostly made up of methane and carbon dioxide, produced by micro-organisms as they break down our buried waste. Both are powerful “greenhouse gases” which is one of the reasons why landfill is considered so bad for the environment. Some landfill sites are able to capture some of their landfill gas and convert it to gas which can be escorted to the grid, but the tell-tale odour of degrading waste reminds us that some of the gas is escaping to the atmosphere and contributing to global warming.
What can I do about this? It is thought that by cutting food waste the average UK household could save £540 a year!
Plan your meals so that you only buy what you need.
Avoid “multibuy” offers on fresh food unless you know you will use it.
Store food properly – there are guides online about what should go in different parts of your fridge and freezer.
Check your fridge temperature is below 5ºc. Lots of items can perish quickly if it’s not cool enough.
Veg that’s a bit wrinkled or wilted can be livened up in a bowl of cold water.
There are loads of ways to use fruit and veg without having to peel it; apple crumble with the skin on, “crushed” potatoes instead of mash, scrub carrots and parsnips
clean instead of peeling them – it saves time too!
Have a look at www.lovefoodhatewaste.com for more ideas.
Unless otherwise stated, data and statistics are taken from HM Government’s “Our Waste, Our Resources: a Strategy for England (2018)” and “UK Statistics on Waste” published by DEFRA and Government Statistical Service, March 2019