paper round food waste 1By Harriet Simpson, Marketing Manager, Paper Round

Recycle Week 2015’s theme is ‘recycling around the home’, something we’ve got better and better at as a country.

It’s almost impossible to think that back in 2002 the UK was trailing behind our European neighbours with a paltry 23% recycling rate. Looking back through the mists of time, in the last decade or so we’ve seen so much change, with the dawn of 3d printing, electronic cigarettes, and smart phones, by gosh we’ve even seen the merging of two staple bakery delights, with the birth of the Cronut. But more importantly and, I think you’ll agree, also more excitingly, we hit a 43.9% rate for household recycling in 2012.

WRAP’s hugely successful Recycle Now campaign (the guys behind Recycle Week, as it happens) has created a common language and imagery to help the public and businesses understand how to handle their waste effectively. It’s in part because of this focus by campaigners on areas such as recycling, that today the general public is much more eco-savvy. We’re seeing a demand for more sustainable products and services, and in fact, the SRA’s survey found that 70% of diners would choose a sustainable restaurant given the choice.

As hospitality and food service sector businesses, you will encounter a range of issues affecting the way you handle your waste and the way you go about trying to increase your recycling rates. Compliance with legislation is a key concern for many of Paper Round’s clients. In January 2015, the waste regulations in England and Wales changed slightly and now waste collectors must provide segregated collections of waste materials where it is TEEP (Technically, Environmentally and Economically Practicable) to do so. The purpose of this legislative update is to improve the quality of recycling. Some waste materials, glass and paper, for example, are not compatible for collection in the same container; in this example if the glass breaks in the recycling sack or bin, shards of it contaminate the paper and paper recycling mills won’t accept it because of the risk to their machinery. At Paper Round, we’ve produced this handy one-page guide to help hospitality and food businesses understand their responsibilities with regards to waste legislation.

It’s not all about rules imposed upon you from above, though. There are plenty of exciting opportunities that your business can take advantage of, with the improved service offering from recycling collectors, matched with a demand from your customers stand apart from your competitors when it comes to environmental performance. Hey, you might even find that a shake-up of your waste management system can save you some pennies, too.

One waste stream that Paper Round has seen a lot of interest in from the hospitality sector is rather unsurprisingly food waste. Sending food waste to landfill or incineration makes no sense environmentally, or in terms of your recycling performance and waste expenditure. The UK Government’s preferred approach for dealing with residual food waste (that which can’t be prevented or reduced), is anaerobic digestion, which turns your food waste into fertiliser used to grow crops and energy which goes back into the National Grid to power homes and businesses.

Recycling rates are nearly always calculated by weight; food waste is heavy, so if you’re putting it into your general waste stream your recycling rate is not going to look good. Often waste management firms will consider the weight of your sacks and bins when they’re pricing your collection costs. If you are a food service business and you’re placing food waste into your general waste bin it’s more than likely you’re not getting a good general waste collection price. When it comes to monitoring the volumes of food waste your business is producing, having a different bin for food waste is a great means for making this part of your waste stream more visible to your staff. Once you’re separating your food, there’s a fantastic opportunity to review your processes to try and prevent the waste being created in the first place. What are you overbuying? What are customers not eating?

The waste legislation is there to make sure the waste your business produces has the least impact environmentally, and that where the waste is in fact a resource, it can be used effectively. The recycling sector is there to help your business be compliant with legislation, but also to help you take advantage of the opportunities presented by managing your waste well. Take stock of your current approach and make sure you’re not left behind. 2002 was alright, but we’ve got better pastries nowadays.