Report presents strategy for achieving zero food waste in UK by 2020

A new report from a food waste recycler and a charity that promotes sustainable businesses in the UK includes a number of proposals that may help other countries, like Canada, also achieve zero waste food to landfill. The report also suggests that its recommendations will save the UK economy over £17bn a year by 2020 through the reduction of food wastes from households, businesses and the public sector. The data in the report are specific to the UK, though similar data, scaled for population and food consumption differences, likely also apply to Canada.

The recommendations include:

  • By treating food waste separately, it is possible to move it further up the waste hierarchy, reduce treatment costs and ensure that its true potential is realised.
  • Surplus food that is fit for human or animal consumption sits higher in the food waste hierarchy and should be prioritised by businesses ahead of other means of treatment.
  • Food redistribution takes surplus but edible food and redistributes it to people in need.
  • The livestock animal feed industry is a well-established and regulated solution for handling surplus food. Feedstock for animal feed reprocessors is restricted to former foodstuffs that do not contain animal protein, such as clean bread, flour, biscuits, crisps, dough, grains, fruits and vegetables. Depending upon the volume and type of foodstuff, these materials will have a commercial value and therefore, in most cases, represent a more economically viable solution than landfill or incineration.
  • Likewise, the pet food industry is a strong, growing and well-regulated sector.
  • Rendering is the industry standard technology in most western countries applied to handling animal byproducts. The resultant tallow can be used in the production of biodiesel and meat and bone meal (MBM) can be used as a biofuel to generate renewable energy.
  • The use of rendered products can be estimated to reduce GHG emissions by approximately 70,000 tonnes per annum. This is because they can be used as a direct replacement to soybean in the production of pet foods, palm oil in the manufacture of bio-diesel, and fossil fuels in the generation of energy.
  • Unavoidable food waste is a resource. Food, by its very nature, contains nutrients and energy and therefore solutions should seek to maximise the resource potential in the material.
  • Anaerobic digestion is a proven technology solution and has been widely used in the water treatment industry for many years. AD is a biological process. Food waste is first de-packaged, normally by machine, then pasteurised by being heated to 70°C for one hour to kill harmful bacteria, before passing into large digesters. Here good bacteria, in the absence of oxygen, work on the food and produce methane gas and a liquid/solid fraction called digestate, a low-carbon bio-fertiliser.
  • Energy from waste has a role to play in UK waste strategy, but it is important to safeguard against the loss of crucial resources by avoiding treating a large proportion of our waste in this way.

The full report contains many more details and can be found at http://www.vision2020.info/

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