How to… …Recycle food waste on site

30 November 2012
How to… …Recycle food waste on site

Processing your food waste on site makes sound business sense

Some food waste is unavoidable, yet finding alternatives to landfill makes sound business sense. Landfill tax has been rising steadily in recent years and the latest increase was made in March.

According to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), sending food waste for anaerobic digestion, for example, rather than landfill is currently £40 cheaper per tonne. That's one good reason why on-site recycling systems are growing in popularity.

Three ways to recycle waste on site

1 Dewaterers Catering waste is approximately 75% water and, therefore, by removing this element, the weight of the waste is reduced by a similar amount. This not only means easier storage but, most importantly, reduces the cost of the waste when transported to one of the growing number of anaerobic digestion plants.
Since businesses are usually charged per tonne or per bin, this means significant cost savings, with the equipment usually paying for itself within just a few months.

2 Food waste disposers Operating in the same way as domestic in-sink disposers, a food waste disposer (FWD) enables businesses to dispose of their food waste via the sewer network safely and easily.

The equipment can fit easily into a busy kitchen environment and enables staff to dispose of the food waste at the point of production. The equipment grinds the waste - which can include anything from plate scrapings, vegetables and peelings to meat, fish, fruit, bread and even bones - into fine pieces, usually no more than 2mm in size, which are then washed into the main drainage system, eliminating the need for a separate food waste collection service.

Paul Tittle, product manager at food waste specialist IMC, says: "There has been some debate about businesses disposing of their food waste down the drain. However, the Chartered Institute of Water & Environmental Management concludes that regulatory restrictions on the use of FWDs have been the result of prejudiced opinion rather than objective assessment, and where the impact has been assessed objectively there has been shown to be no case for such restrictions."

Once it has been sent down the drain, the waste water treatment works is able to collect the food waste together with all other "sludge" and, in the vast majority of cases (estimated to be 85% by 2015), treat the waste to produce renewable energy and bio-fertiliser.

3 In-vessel composter Composting is a well established method for recycling food waste into a usable product. For an establishment with its own grounds, such as a hotel, restaurant or golf club, this provides a complete recycling solution.

Following maceration to reduce particle size, and dewatering, food waste is mixed with wood pellets and emptied into an in-vessel composter. After six to eight weeks the waste emerges as a high-quality compost which can be used as a soil improver to grow new produce or help cultivate grounds.

Ben Walker is communications manager at the Institute of Hospitality

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