Food waste collection - FAQs
Q: I don't have any food waste
A: Some people have more food waste than others. At some point, everyone will send some food waste to landfill. It could be a bit of stale bread, banana skins, bones from a Sunday roast or even something lurking at the back of the fridge that you had forgotten about. All of these can be recycled to create energy, and a liquid fertiliser for local farmland.
Q: What are the benefits of collecting food waste?
A: Collecting food waste for recycling means:
- It’s better for the environment - Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with landfilling food. A tonne of food that is recycled in an anaerobic digester rather than disposed of to landfill saves 860kg CO2 equivalent.
- It’s cheaper - Reducing the cost of landfilling waste. In the twelve month period 2013-14 Gloucestershire sent over 11,000 tonnes of food to be recycled, saving £1 million in landfill tax.
- It’s used to make energy - Producing renewable energy for the national grid, thus contributing to energy security.
- It’s used to make fertilizer - Producing liquid fertiliser for local farmers, which helps reduce their reliance on chemical fertilisers.
Q: How will the food waste be collected?
A: In your food caddy every week - Each property has two food waste caddies, a small and large one. Residents collect the food waste in the small caddy in the kitchen, and then transfer it to the large caddy for the weekly collection.
Q: How can I keep my caddies clean?
A: Line it or wash it - Caddies can be lined with any type of old plastic bag (including supermarket bags), newspaper or compostable caddy liners. Both caddies can be washed and are dishwasher safe up to 60°C.
Q: I don't have room for the food waste caddy.
A: Just use the outside caddy - The kitchen caddy is only 7 litres and is designed to be kept on a kitchen work surface or under the sink. However, if you don't want to use the small kitchen caddy, simply empty your food waste directly into the larger 23 litre food waste caddy which you can keep outside.
Q: What happens to the food waste?
A: Its turned into energy and fertilizer - The food is sent to an anaerobic digester where it is broken down naturally by bacteria in an oxygen-starved environment. This produces biogas, which is cleaned and fed into the national gas grid. The liquid residue called digestate is used to fertilise local farmland. Any cornstarch caddy liners or plastic bags are easily separated from the food waste by a shredding machine before the recycling process begins. Excess energy from the food recycling process is reused on-site. Water used in the process is also recycled and used on-site.
Q: Why can I now reuse any kind of plastic bags in my caddy?
A: The plastic is separated from the food - Plastics are separated from the food waste at the start of the recycling process by a series of large metal paddles which separate the food from any bags.
You can line your caddy with any type of plastic bag (including old bread wrappers, cereal packets, used sandwich bags etc) as well as cornstarch liners and newspaper.
Q: What happens to the plastic bags and caddy liners after they are separated from the food waste?
The bags are landfilled - The bags are washed to remove any residual food, which is returned to the recycling process. The plastics are then baled. Plastic bags account for about 100 tonnes of the 11,000 tonnes collected just 0.5 – 1% of the total weight of food waste sent for recycling and currently the plastic is sent for landfilling locally, just as anything you put in your household waste bin would be – such as bin liners, old sandwich bags or cereal packets. The contractor is hoping to recycle the plastic waste, but it is not a simple process, and trials currently being undertaken show that full separation of biodegradable bags from plastic bags is necessary. However, if separation can be achieved then the plastic will be recycled.
Q: Can I still compost at home?
A: Yes - We would encourage you to continue composting at home (compost bins can be ordered via www.recycleforgloucestershire.com). However, using the food waste caddy means you can recycle all meat, fish, bones, cooked food and dairy products; whereas it’s recommended that these types of food shouldn’t be composted at home as they could attract vermin.
Q: How will I know which caddy is mine after collection?
A: You can number your caddy - On the larger caddy you can write your house name or number. This will reduce the risk of missing bins or confusion after they have been emptied.
Q: Can I share a caddy with my neighbour?
A: Yes - if you would like to. Please make sure you arrange between yourselves who looks after it and puts it out for collection.
Q: Can I have an extra caddy?
A: Yes - if you would like to order another kitchen or kerbside caddy, please contact us.
Q: Can I put food waste in with my normal domestic waste?
A: Yes you can but - We strongly encourage all residents to participate fully in the recycling services provided in order to reduce the amount going to Gloucestershire's landfill sites. Food waste is a particular concern, as food waste sent to landfill generates the potent greenhouse gas methane. By recycling food waste over a twelve month period Gloucestershire residents have also helped save £1million in landfill tax. Now that any type of plastic bag can be reused as a caddy liner we hope that residents find it easier than ever to recycle their food waste.
Q: Why don’t you just encourage people to waste less food?
A: We do and we are proud to support the Love Food Hate Waste campaign. Wasting food is a waste of money; the average household throws away £600 a year in food waste! It’s also an unnecessary waste of energy and natural resources which went into the production, packaging and transportation of that food. The Love Food Hate Waste website is full of hints and tips that can help us all to save money and food.
However, even with the best of intentions, most of us have some food waste that can’t be eaten or home composted, such as bones, dairy products or food that has gone off and we can now use this waste to generate energy.