Every year in the UK 10 million tonnes of food post-farm-gate goes to waste. This is equivalent to £20 billion and is associated with more than 25 million tonnes of greenhouse gas, according to WRAP. Whether it be manufacturers, retailers, restaurants or households, everyone contributes to these striking figures. They signal a waste of natural resources, contribution to global warming, social inequality and economic losses, among other problems.
While reducing the amount of food waste is absolutely necessary, the final destination of what does go in the bin is just as important. Unavoidable food waste is actually a valuable resource that should never end up in landfill - yet it is estimated that in the UK 40% of disposed food is decomposing in the ground.
So here are five reasons why separating your banana peels, tea bags and eggshells from the rest of your rubbish should be the next thing you do to save the planet - after all, recycling food waste is the first step towards zero waste recycling!
1. Food waste in landfills is harmful to the environment
If not separated for recycling, food waste often ends up in landfill sites where it is far from harmless. As it breaks down under uncontrolled conditions, it releases methane, which has a global warming potential 23 times greater than carbon dioxide. This is in addition to all the greenhouse gas emissions already accumulated from the food’s production, transportation and preparation, so let’s not add to the pile…
At First Mile, we guarantee that none of your waste goes to landfill by recycling food waste into energy.
2. Food waste can be turned into green energy and fertiliser
Instead of heating up our planet through greenhouse gas emissions, unavoidable food waste can power your home or office, while providing nutrients for agriculture.
This is possible through anaerobic digestion, a technique resembling the biological process in a human stomach. Food waste is put into a giant tank with no oxygen, a lot of pressure and controlled heat where micro-organisms break down the organic material. This biochemical process produces methane, which is collected and turned into electricity, as well as a solid/liquid fraction called digestate, used for bio-fertiliser. To put things into perspective:
- A single recycled banana peel can generate enough electricity to fully charge your smartphone twice.
- One lorry load of food waste would be able to generate enough electricity to power 20,000 TVs for an hour.
- The peelings from six potatoes could be turned into enough compost to grow a brand new potato.
3. It is simply cheaper than not recycling it
Food recycling is not only better for the environment, but also cheaper than a general waste service. This means you can do the right thing and save money at the same time. Good for your pocket and the planet!
4. Prevent contamination of your recyclable materials
Food waste is one of the biggest contaminators of recyclable materials, resulting in lost recycling. Food waste in a sack of recycling can render an entire sack un-recyclable. Having a designated food caddy where all tea bags, apple cores and orange peels go can help significantly reduce the risk of contamination and ensure your recyclable materials go back in the loop.
5. It’s easier than ever!
Whether you are a restaurant, office, or even a florist who wishes to recycle their flower waste, First Mile makes food recycling super easy and convenient for you. We offer daily collections and can provide you with an internal food recycling bin or small caddy to help you start your new environmental habit stress-free.
And if all this isn’t enough to convince you, according to DEFRA’s waste strategy, it’s likely that food waste recycling will become compulsory for businesses and households in the near future. So what are you waiting for? Start recycling your food waste today with First Mile!