Mandatory Food Waste Collections – What Businesses Need To Know

By Cassie Fung on 20th May 2024 (updated: 20th May 2024) in News & Blog

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Getting Ready for the Mandatory Food Waste Collection Plan


Food waste has been back in the news over the past few weeks. Starting with Food Waste Awareness week (18-24 March), followed by Stop Food Waste Day (24 April), food waste awareness is high on the agenda. The issue has also been discussed in Parliament and, on 9th May, Recycling Minister Robbie Moore announced the government’s new approach to simpler recycling in England, to put an end to confusing recycling and excessive bins.


One thing is for sure – mandatory food waste recycling is on its way, for businesses as well as households, so we had all better prepare for the changes, that start to take effect from March 2025.  By 31 March 2027, all recyclable waste streams, including food waste but excluding garden waste, will be required to be recycled by all businesses and non-domestic premises as well as households.


However, considering the waste hierarchy of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, the debate in Parliament, tabled by Jo Gideon MP, focused on food waste reduction and food distribution.  A key line of debate considered food waste reporting by larger food businesses.  It was considered that the first step for food chain operators towards meaningful food waste reduction action is to measure current levels of food waste and publicly report them, so that they can act to eliminate waste.


Evidence shows that 99% of companies that invested in food waste reduction had a positive return on their investment, and that for half the companies a £1 investment in action to reduce food waste yielded a £14 return. Large businesses would have to prevent only 0.25% of the food waste that they create each year to offset any costs of measurement.


The parliamentary debate also credited the work of food redistribution charities, which take edible surplus food from businesses and redistributes it to people in need.  This could be widened to cover the whole redistribution sector, including opportunities for social enterprises and commercial redistributors.  Such organisations have a huge impact on tackling food insecurity in local communities and have a company mission of reducing food waste.


Technology will play a growing role in combating surplus food from local businesses going to waste.  For example, thousands of meals have been saved from the bin by use of the Too Good To Go app.  This social impact company’s mission is to inspire and empower everyone to fight food waste, and their app is the world’s largest marketplace for surplus food, connecting 155,000 local stores, cafes and restaurants with the app’s users to rescue food from going to waste.  This is worth looking into if you’re a food business with surplus edible food looking for a channel to redistribute it.


Although food waste is a significant problem at the post-retail end of the chain, a large amount of wastage exists at the start of the chain, on the farm.  As much as 48% of all food loss occurs pre-harvest, with food left in fields, driven by decisions on standards and specifications beyond the control of farmers, such as for ‘wonky veg’.  MPs called for food waste policy to focus on on-farm food waste reduction.


Jo Gideon, in her introduction to the debate, said “Knowing how we value food, it is an outrage that 4.6 million tonnes of edible food goes to waste every year, which is enough to feed everyone in the country for almost two months. That is just edible food waste, including food waste at the farm gate. We throw away more than 11 million tonnes of food each year, which is valued at £20.8 billion. The overall land use associated with food wasted on UK farms alone amounts to almost the size of Wales.”


Responding to the debate, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Robbie Moore, confirmed the government’s commitment to meeting the target of the UN’s sustainable development goal 12.3, which seeks to halve global food waste at consumer and retail levels by 2030.


Starting by addressing household food waste, which accounts for 60% of food that is wasted in the UK, all local authorities in England will be required to arrange weekly collection of food waste for recycling, collected separately from residual waste and dry recyclable materials, by March 2026.  Non-household municipal premises, such as businesses, hospitals and schools, will also be required to arrange food waste recycling collections.


On Simpler Recycling, the Government’s latest announcement (on 09/05/2024) sets the timetable for implementation of food waste recycling:

  • by 31 March 2025 for non-household municipal premises in England such as hospitals, schools and businesses with 10 or more employees
  • by 31 March 2026 for kerbside collection for domestic properties
  • by 31 March 2027 for microbusinesses


The plans will apply to all homes in England (including flats) and similar measures will apply to non-household municipal premises, including businesses, hospitals, schools and universities.  As well as these developments, the list of premises in scope of these requirements has been expanded.  Places of worship, penal institutes, charity shops, hostels and public meeting places will all come under the scope of the Simpler Recycling regulations.


With the clock now ticking, now could be a good time to explore your food waste and recycling collection options with Yorwaste.  Contact our Customer Services to discuss this.

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