A blog post of two halves today, firstly with information about a European initiative to reduce food waste and then a look at how food waste is collected here in the Vale of Glamorgan (Wales).
The European Week of Waste Reduction (EWWR) starts today (22-30
Nov 2014). This initiative aims to raise awareness about sustainable resources
and waste management. In particular, it encourages people, either through a
group (e.g. public authority, NGO, business, educational establishment) or as
individuals, to take actions to promote waste reduction. The annual EWWR was
first launched in 2009 and has been co-funded by the European Commission’s
The EWWR’s Prevention Thematic Days 2014 focus on the issue
of food waste and how to prevent it. Around one third of the food produced
globally is lost or wasted, which makes no sense economically or ethically, and
represents a massive loss of resources: land, water, energy and labour. Over
100 million tonnes of food are wasted annually in the EU (2014 estimate), a
figure that is expected to rise if active measures are not taken.
A number of EWWR food waste factsheets can be downloaded, which cover
areas such as food donation campaigns, gleaning and eco-restaurants: http://www.ewwr.eu/en/support/thematic-days-2014-stop-food-waste
The Eco-Restaurant concept, for instance, aims to optimise a restaurant’s
performance in all environmental aspects, including waste prevention, reducing
energy and water consumption, and reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions. In terms
of food waste, customers are encouraged to take left-over food away in paper
‘doggy bags’, customers should be offered tap water (in preference to bottled
water), and more consideration should be given to different plate sizes on the
The information for a Zero Waste Lunch aims to help you
dramatically reduce the amount of food and packaging that ends up landfilled or
incinerated. Avoiding unnecessary shopping and buying in bulk, making use of
reusable bags and containers, reusing left-overs and composting food waste all
Food can be composted at home or via a local authority food
waste collection scheme. Here in the Vale of Glamorgan, kitchen waste is
collected weekly from the kerbside. Residents in the Vale can go along to the
farm where it is processed near Cowbridge (Cowbridge Compost Ltd) and pick up
some of the compost for free. We spread a load of it around when we established
the Nightingale Community Garden in Dinas Powys.
The recent background paper on Waste Planning, part of the Vale
of Glamorgan Local Development Plan 2011-2026, stated that the Vale handles
59,780 tonnes per annum (2012-13) of municipal solid waste, of which 5,459
tonnes per annum is food composting. It aims to increase the amount of food and
garden waste being processed, and use some of it to generate bioenergy, through
the creation of a new Anaerobic Digestion (AD) Treatment plant, in a joint
venture with Cardiff Council.
In an announcement, unfortunately coinciding with the EWWR,
the Vale of Glamorgan Council have said that it is to ration the biodegradable
green bags they supply to households for food waste (Penarth Times, 20 Nov).
This will make substantial annual savings, they say, because some people
request unfeasibly large numbers of them. Although the local FOE group have
attached the Council for this decision, it does make sense to issue a limited
number of free bag rolls to households with the option of buying more.
kitchen waste system can seem a little overcomplicated. It involves a
small caddy in the kitchen, into which biodegradable bags are inserted and a
larger caddy to put roadside with the sealed bags in it. What I learnt recently
is that you don’t really need the little biodegradable green bags at all,
because you can just line the bigger caddy with newspaper and chuck everything
straight in there. So don’t get too hung up on the little bags, just get as much
kitchen waste recycled as possible!