Having first been scrapped due to fears of it being an administrative burden, the Government announced last week that it is reconsidering mandatory food waste reporting. Olleco, one of the UK’s leading food waste collectors, is keen to support and highlight the benefits to businesses of self-policing this process and how measurement is the first step to reducing food waste.
Olleco’s CCO, Adam Baisley, is quick to point out that monitoring and reporting are the cornerstones of food waste reduction strategies of the kind advocated by both the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) and the Waste Reduction and Action Programme (WRAP). He explains: "We believe in giving our customers the tools to understand when and how much food waste they are producing. This enables them to re-evaluate their process and supply chain and take corrective actions to reduce unnecessary wastage. Consistent measurement allows businesses to assess the success of change strategies, and that is why Olleco provides reporting as standard to all customers at no additional charge. We understand every penny counts at a time of rising food inflation and we want to support our customers in reducing their costs."
It is easy to underestimate the true cost of food waste but, when you factor in the energy that goes into growing, transporting, storing and preparing our food, the environmental cost of food waste is huge. The UN estimates that it accounts for between 8 and 10% of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.
In the current climate of escalating costs and global temperatures, addressing the issue of food waste is critical for both the planet and the survival of food businesses. WRAP estimates 75% of the UK food and hospitality sector’s food waste is avoidable and case studies, prepared as part of their Guardians of Grub campaign, report reductions of 50% through monitoring and reduction strategies.
It has been a legal requirement for businesses to segregate food waste in Scotland since 2014 and, from April 2024, new Waste Regulations will come into force for businesses in Wales producing more than 5kg of food waste per week. Similar announcements have been made in England last month with food waste legislation due to be introduced in 2025.
Awareness of the forthcoming Welsh regulations is widely reported to be low and Olleco is urging businesses to start planning their separation strategies ahead of the deadlines and makes a strong economic case for doing so. Food is typically the heaviest component in businesses’ waste streams and escalating landfill tax means it now costs around £140 per tonne to dispose of in general waste. Conversely, it can cost less than one fifth of that to take segregated food waste to an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant. Olleco case studies reveal a 19% saving in waste costs for a supermarket and a 17% saving for a typical country pub when they started segregating their food waste for separate collection.
In addition to the financial savings of diverting food waste from landfill, there are vast environmental benefits. Olleco is the only UK-wide food waste company that operates its own AD facilities. They have estimated that if all UK food waste were processed through systems like theirs, and used to make renewable energy, we would see carbon benefits equivalent to a forest three times the size of Wales.
When asked about the government U-turn on mandatory food waste reporting, Olleco’s Adam Baisley said “I don’t feel that the mandatory aspect of food waste reporting is what’s most important. It just makes good business sense for every resource recovery business to be helping their customers to do it voluntarily. I’m delighted to be able to offer it to our customers at zero cost as an integral part of our food waste collection service. Only by monitoring and measuring food waste can we tackle the existential challenges facing businesses and the wider environment”.
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Olleco is the UK’s leading supplier of premium cooking oils and collector of used cooking oil and food waste. The oil Olleco collects is converted into high-grade biofuels and the food waste collected is transformed into renewable energy and fertiliser. This helps our customers play their part in creating a circular economy. Olleco has grown into one of the nation’s most successful sustainability specialists, employing over 1000 people, at 19 sites strategically located throughout the U.K. and Ireland. These service 50,000 catering establishments in addition to the Royal Household. Olleco’s operations have helped many of the food industry’s most famous names to reduce their environmental impact by hundreds of thousands of tonnes of CO₂e. www.olleco.co.uk