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Over 30% of the waste sent for disposal in black bags from west London is food, the largest single material in rubbish bins. Also, more than half of what is thrown away could have been eaten and was avoidable. Wasted food means wasted money and wasted resources that went into production and distribution as well as increasing the cost of disposal.

Impact of Food

Did you know that food production and consumption are responsible for around 30% of global carbon emissions? Agriculture requires space, energy, water, fertiliser, heavy machinery, transporting and packaging etc which all contribute to global warming. And yet surprisingly, around a third of all food in the world is wasted.

What happens to my food waste recycling?

Food waste collected for recycling is taken to a special anaerobic digestion plant in Mitcham where it is turned into fertilizer for local farms and energy for the national grid. A by-product of the process is biogas which is then used to power homes and businesses, as well as the trucks collecting your food waste. In the near future, we will be one of the first boroughs in the country to use trucks fuelled by food waste.

How to recycle it

Food waste should never end up in the bin and you should always use your food caddy.

  1. Place your indoor caddy in your kitchen and use liners or newspaper to line the base of your caddy.

  2. Place food scraps which would have been intended for the bin inside your caddy

  3. Once full, tie up your food waste bag and place it in the large outdoor caddy for collection

What food is accepted for food recycling?

  • Dairy products and eggs
  • Bread, cakes and pastries
  • Raw and cooked meat and fish, including bones
  • Teabags and coffee grounds
  • Grains including rice, pasta and beans
  • Mouldy or out of date ready meals removed from their packaging
  • Leftovers, uneaten food and plate scrapings

Please do not add:

  • Liquids such as milk
  • Oil or liquid fat
  • Packaging of any kind, e.g. plastic bags
  • Garden waste
  • Any material that is not food waste
Ways to reduce your impacts/food
  1. Plan ahead - Check what’s in the cupboard, fridge and freezer before going shopping. Push things to the front that need eating up and think about what you could buy to complement what you already have. Making a shopping list is also a great way to avoid waste and save money.

  2. Know your dates & Store correctly - The only date label that matters is ‘use-by’. Use foods with the shortest use-by date first, and put food that won’t get eaten into the freezer. Store food correctly and you can extend its’ life and keep it fresher for longer

  3. Perfect portions & Love leftovers - Measure portion sizes helps us to avoid cooking too much. But when you do be creative with using up leftovers

  4. Cut down on the meat - reduce your intake, try and use meat alternatives

  5. Shop seasonally – only buy fruit & veg that is in season

  6. Recycle, use your caddy! - Food scraps, peelings & even tea bags can be recycled through your council’s food waste service. By recycling, you can help create green energy & fertilizer.

  7. Keep a short food waste diary - Keeping track of the amount of food going in your food recycling bin or kitchen bin is a great way to identify the items you throw away most often.

What’s the date label trying to tell you?

On some products you can find up to 4 different dates – display until, sell by, best before and use by. To clear up the confusion, here is what the important date labels mean:

Use by

This is the really important one and can be found on fresh foods. It relates to safety as eating food after the use by date increases the likelihood of food poisoning. However, if a food can be frozen, its life can be extended – freeze it on or before the ‘use by’ date. Take a look in your cupboards and fridge regularly and eat, cook or freeze your food before its ‘use by’. Doing this means you don’t end up throwing it away.

Best Before

‘Best before’ dates show how long the food will be at its best quality – it doesn’t refer to safety. Using food after the ‘best before’ means that it will just not be at its best in terms of quality, but you might not even be able to taste the difference. The exception to this rule is eggs – providing the eggs are cooked thoroughly, they can be eaten a day or two after their ‘best before’ date, but not longer than this.

Sell By and Display Until

You can safely ignore this. Both are used by shops you buy food from.

Order a food caddy

Why Should You Care About Food Waste?

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Further reading

West London residents increased the amount of dry recycling by 15% and food waste recycling by 6% since the Coronavirus lockdown
With more residents staying at home since the 23rd of March, more people are making full use of their Council kerbside recycling collection services across London Boroughs of Brent, Ealing, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, and Richmond upon Thames.
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Storing food properly

We throw away around 3 million tonnes of food and drink every year before we even get round to cooking or serving it. Storing food in the right way helps keep it fresh and tasty for longer and means less of the food we buy goes off and gets thrown away. Most packs now have storage information on the front of the pack, rather than the back, making it even easier to spot. There are loads of guides online explaining how to freeze all sorts of food items.

Read more
Waste Less and Eat Well at Uni

Moving away to college or university and learning to fend for yourself is a scary but exciting prospect! There’s a lot to take in – a new home, new friends and new skills – it’s easy to forget about cooking. There are many websites and videos you can find such as the Love Food Hate Waste site that give you tips, advice and recipes to help you make a good start in the kitchen and save your money for other things.

Read more

From household kerbside collections to your local recycling centres, we deal with a number of different types of waste materials.

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