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Commercial Food Waste Disposal: A Guide

February 29th, 2024

Last updated: February 29th, 2024

In the world of commercial food establishments, from restaurants to supermarkets, the issue of food waste can be confusing, so how do businesses deal with their commercial food waste disposal needs?

With sustainability and environmental consciousness on the rise, it’s imperative for businesses to understand and adhere to government guidelines regarding the proper disposal of food waste (as well as other types of waste). In this blog post, we’ll delve into the details of commercial food disposal, explore government regulations, and highlight best practices for responsible waste management.

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 makes businesses responsible for the waste they produce. As such, business owners are responsible for ensuring it is disposed of correctly.

The Importance of Proper Food Waste Disposal

Food waste is a significant environmental issue globally, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and landfill overflow. In the UK alone, millions of tonnes of food are wasted each year, placing strain on resources and exacerbating environmental degradation.

For commercial establishments, managing food waste responsibly not only aligns with ethical and environmental principles but also ensures compliance with legal requirements.

The UK government has established comprehensive regulations to govern the disposal of commercial food waste. The Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011, along with equivalent regulations in Scotland and Northern Ireland, outline the legal framework for waste management. These regulations emphasise the principles of the waste hierarchy, prioritising prevention, reuse, recycling, and recovery over disposal. Commercial waste collection and waste disposal companies have to abide by the hierarchy set out in the Waste Regulations 2011.

Under these regulations, businesses are required to segregate food waste from other types of waste at the source. This segregation facilitates efficient recycling and prevents contamination. Additionally, commercial food waste must be disposed of in a manner that minimises environmental impact and complies with relevant permits and licences.

Animal Products Waste

Foods that contain any animal products that are made for human consumption should be removed from sale in a few instances:

  • They have passed their sell by or use by date
  • They are visually imperfect, or have damaged packaging
  • They are spoiled, mouldy, or decomposing

At this point of withdrawing from sale, in the eyes of the law, the foodstuff becomes an animal by-product (ABP) and this decision can’t be reversed.

Some products can be turned into animal feed, including things like eggs and egg shells, bakery products, cooked meat or fish, and ready meals.

However, there are certain high-risk products that are referred to as Class 1 ABPs (animal by-products).

The government website explains:

“You can only dispose of category 1 ABPs by:

  • incineration or co-incineration at an approved plant
  • processing using processing methods 1-5 followed by permanent marking using GTH, then incineration or co-incineration
  • pressure sterilisation (apart from possible TSE cases or animals killed under TSE eradication laws) followed by permanent marking, then landfill
  • using them as fuel for combustion at an approved combustion plant
  • sending them for burial at an authorised landfill, if they are international catering waste

Best Practices for Commercial Food Disposal

The best ways to deal with commercial food waste include implementing a robust waste segregation system within your establishment, using designated bins or containers for food waste. Engage with licensed waste management companies or local authorities to arrange regular collection services for food waste. Proper storage of food and regular collection can also help to avoid pest issues that many businesses struggle with.

Explore various treatment methods for food waste, including composting, anaerobic digestion, and rendering. Composting involves the natural decomposition of organic matter into nutrient-rich compost, which can be used in agriculture. Anaerobic digestion harnesses microorganisms to break down organic waste, producing biogas and fertiliser. Rendering processes food waste to produce fats, oils, and proteins for industrial use.

Where possible, educate staff about the importance of proper food waste disposal and provide training on waste segregation and disposal procedures. Encourage a culture of sustainability within your establishment by promoting responsible waste management practices.

Ensuring Proper Commercial Food Disposal

Proper disposal of commercial food waste is essential for maintaining cleanliness, preventing contamination, and reducing environmental impact. By adhering to government guidelines and implementing best practices for waste management, businesses in the UK can play a pivotal role in mitigating the effects of food waste on the environment. Together, we can strive towards a more sustainable future by responsibly managing our food waste and embracing eco-friendly practices in our daily operations.

We offer a fast and efficient waste collection service throughout Yorkshire, with expert advice on the types of bins your business might need.

Call 01423 226578 or get in touch to see how Robinsons Facilities Services can help.

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